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Brockley Hill Romano-British pottery and settlement

A Scheduled Monument in Canons, Harrow

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.6326 / 51°37'57"N

Longitude: -0.305 / 0°18'18"W

OS Eastings: 517406.705684

OS Northings: 194002.606494

OS Grid: TQ174940

Mapcode National: GBR 6T.ZPY

Mapcode Global: VHGQ9.N7L9

Entry Name: Brockley Hill Romano-British pottery and settlement

Scheduled Date: 25 January 1974

Last Amended: 20 August 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018006

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29396

County: Harrow

Electoral Ward/Division: Canons

Built-Up Area: Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Lawrence Whitchurch Lane

Church of England Diocese: London

Details

The monument includes buried remains of an extensive Romano-British pottery
manufacturing site, a contemporary and later Romano-British settlement and
part of the Roman road (Watling Street) alongside which both industry and
settlement developed. Also included is a section of the later roadway which
perpetuated the route of the Roman road into the medieval and post-medieval
period, prior to the formalisation of the present A5. The remains are in two
areas of protection.

The centre of pottery manufacture originated near the summit of Brockley Hill
(which must have provided all the necessary elements of suitable clay sources,
natural springs and an abundant supply of wood for fuel) and developed along
both sides of Watling Street around the area now occupied by the older part of
the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. Evidence for the manufacturing site
cannot be seen on the ground, although numerous small-scale excavations since
1937 have revealed well-preserved remains extending across the grounds of
Brockley Hill House (the former nurses' home) on the western side of the road,
and along the eastern side of the road opposite the frontage of the hospital.
Although the pottery manufacturing site and associated settlement almost
certainly extended along the road frontage and into the area of the
Orthopaedic Hospital, the remains in this area are not sufficiently understood
to be included in the scheduling.

The earliest discoveries were located on the eastern side of the modern road
opposite the junction with Wood Lane. Between 1947 and 1971 further areas were
investigated within the grounds of Brockley Hill House and in the fields to
the south and east, revealing the remains of kilns and workshops, clay
extraction pits, puddling hollows, wells, preparation floors and large
accumulations of kiln waste. Fourteen kilns have been discovered to date,
demonstrating a variety of forms and a sequence of activity which began around
AD 60 and reached a peak of production towards the end of the first century.
The kilns produced a range of bowls, flagons and jars for use as everyday
cooking, storage and table wares. Most significantly, the site has been
identified as a principal production centre for mortaria (mixing bowls with
granular interior surfaces) during the first century - a product which, prior
to the early excavations at Brockley Hill, was thought to have been
exclusively manufactured on the continent. At least 14 individual potters, or
their workshops, have been identified from names stamped on vessels. Among
these is the potter `Doinus', whose mortaria kiln was discovered immediately
to the south of Brockley Hill House in 1971 and whose products have been
unearthed on Roman sites as far north as Cumbria and lowland Scotland.

Pottery production declined from AD 120 and finally ceased around AD 160 as
other centres, particularly in Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and the Nene Valley
expanded. The area continued to be settled however, and there is evidence in
the form of coins and pottery (not manufactured on the site) to suggest that
occupation of a more domestic nature continued until the fourth century. The
potter's workshops and huts appear to have been fairly flimsy structures,
perhaps in keeping with the seasonal nature of the industry. Later buildings
may have been more substantial. Excavations in the area around Brockley Hill
House showed that some of the potters' waste dumps were levelled in the late
third or early fourth century and overlain by cobbled floors. The remains of
several buildings were found to the north of the tennis courts in 1950-51
accompanied, in one instance, by a tiled surface and fragments of rotary
querns which indicate grain processing on the site. It has been suggested that
this settlement was synonymous with `Sulloniacis', the estate of the family of
Sulonios, which was noted in the third century Antonine Itinerary as lying 12
miles from London and 9 miles from Verulamium (St Albans). If this were so,
then in order to merit inclusion in the Itinerary (which was intended as an
official route map) the settlement is likely to have possessed still more
substantial buildings, perhaps including a posting station or mansio.

The road alongside which the potteries and settlement developed was one of the
principal routes within Roman Britain. Built for the use of the military and
government officials (but immediately used for all manner of trade),
construction is thought to have begun in the period AD 43-49, shortly after
the Claudian invasion. The road ultimately linked the channel ports of Kent to
London and continued northward through the West Midlands to North Wales, and
the general route (now perpetuated by the A2 and A5) has remained in use ever
since. Excavations at Brockley Hill have determined that the earliest version
of the Roman road lay slightly to the west of the present carriageway, in part
overlain by a later, medieval road which continues down the hillside to the
south east (outside the area of the scheduling) in the form of a hollow way. A
later road, constructed in the third century incorporating potters' waste, has
been identified on the southern slope of the hill and is thought to continue
along the eastern side of the present carriageway.

All standing buildings, walls, fences, gates and made surfaces are excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Roman pottery production in Britain started soon after the Roman conquest c.AD
40-50 and continued into the fifth century. The peak of production was during
the second century AD, after which the number of production centres began to
diminish. Pottery made in Britain was supplemented by a wide range of ceramics
imported into Britain from elsewhere in the Roman Empire. Early examples of
Roman potteries are concentrated in the south and east, principally in the
Nene Valley and Kent areas. In the second century potteries became more
widespread, with rare northern examples being restricted to sites with
military associations. In the third and fourth centuries the main focus for
pottery production was along the navigable rivers of the central southern and
south and east of the country. By the end of the fourth century production was
restricted to parts of North Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and limited areas of the
south east.
All of the nearly 400 known potteries in England are located with ready access
to markets, and all are situated close to necessary raw materials such as
suitable clay, water and fuel. Potteries are often found in clusters, in both
urban and rural areas. Although there was some variation throughout the
country, all Roman potteries broadly included the same elements: kiln drying
chambers and associated structures such as worksheds, preparation floors,
stores and sometimes accommodation for the workforce. Some potteries had fewer
than five kilns, others upwards of 35. The pottery site may also be situated
within a larger industrial complex which accommodated other crafts with
similar technological needs, such as iron smelting.
Roman pottery making sites in Britain provide important information about the
technology of pottery manufacture and its development and, more generally, the
economic structure of the Roman province. They also offer scope for
understanding trade patterns and how they related to the political and
military situation. Roman pottery sites are rare nationally and all examples
which are known to survive in good condition and still retain most of their
components are considered to be of national importance.

The pottery manufacturing site at Brockley Hill is one of the earliest known
examples in Roman Britain which, at its zenith in the late first century AD,
was also one of the most successful ventures of its kind. Pottery from
Brockley Hill supplied London and the south east and even reached into
northern England, North Wales and the lowlands of Scotland. Small-scale
excavations have demonstrated the presence of a wealth of archaeological
evidence, often well-preserved, which provides significant information
concerning the scale of production, the range of products and the technology
involved in their manufacture. Of particular importance is the evidence for
the major production of mortaria and the indications, provided by the potters'
stamps, of a technological migration from Romanised Gaul shortly after the
Roman Conquest. Sections of Watling Street, one of the most important roads
within the Roman province, are preserved alongside the site of the pottery.
These provide evidence for the means of transportation which allowed the
pottery's products to reach such a large market. The later settlement, perhaps
identified as the `Sulloniacis' mentioned in the Antonine Itinerary, may also
have relied on the trade and transport afforded by the Roman road.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Rivet, A L F, Smith, C, The Place Names of Roman Britain, (1979), 463
Swan, V G, The Pottery Kilns of Roman Britain, (1984), 97-8
Applebaum, S, 'Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeology Society' in 1950 Excavations at Brockley Hill, , Vol. 10, (1951), 201-228
Braithewaite, G, 'Hendon and District Archaeology Society Report' in Report on a Month's Excavation and Fieldwalking, (1987)
Braithewaite, G, 'Hendon and District Archaeology Society Report' in Report on a Month's Excavation and Fieldwalking, (1987)
Braithwaite, G, 'Hendon & District Archaeological Society Report.' in Brockley Hill: Excavations and Fieldwalking, (1987)
Castle, S, 'Arch J' in Kiln of the Potter 'Doinus', , Vol. 129, (1972), 69-88
Castle, S A, 'Trans London and Middlesex Archaeology Society' in Excavations at Brockley Hill 1970, , Vol. 23 pt 2, (1972), 148-151
Castle, S A, 'Tran London and Middlesex Archaeology Society' in Roman Pottery from Brockley Hill 1966 and 1972-74, , Vol. 27, (1976), 206-227
Castle, S A, 'Tran London and Middlesex Archaeology Society' in Roman Pottery from Brockley Hill 1966 and 1972-74, , Vol. 27, (1976), 206-227
Castle, S A, 'Tran London and Middlesex Archaeology Society' in Roman Pottery from Brockley Hill 1966 and 1972-74, , Vol. 27, (1976), 206-227
Castle, S, 'London Archaeologist' in Trial excavations in Field 410, Brockley Hill, , Vol. 2, (1973), 36-39
Castle, S A, Warbis, J H, 'Trans London and Middlesex Archaeology Society' in Excavations on Field No.157, Brockley Hill. 1968, (1973), 85-110
Castle, S A, Warbis, J H, 'Trans London and Middlesex Archaeology Society' in Excavations on Field No.157, Brockley Hill. 1968, (1973), 148-159
Castle, S, 'London Archaeologist' in Trial Excavations at Brockley Hill, , Vol. 2, (1973), 78-83
Castle, S, 'Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeology Society' in Excavations at Brockley Hill 1970, , Vol. 23, (1971), 148-159
Richardson, K, 'Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeology Society' in Excavations at Brockley Hill 1947, , Vol. 10 (1), (1948)
Suggett, P, 'Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeology Society' in Excavations at Brockley Hill 1953-4, , Vol. 19, (1956), 65-75
Suggett, P, 'Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeology Society' in Excavations at Brockley Hill March 1952 - May 1953, , Vol. 11, (1954), 263-5
Suggett, P, 'Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeology Society' in Excavations at Brockley Hill August-September 1951, , Vol. 11, (1954), 188
Other
discussion with SMR Officer, Whytehead, R, Field 157, (1997)

Source: Historic England

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