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Roman fort and a section of Roman road 350m north west of Holly House Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Scaftworth, Nottinghamshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.4275 / 53°25'38"N

Longitude: -1.0093 / 1°0'33"W

OS Eastings: 465926.209017

OS Northings: 392752.502853

OS Grid: SK659927

Mapcode National: GBR PXDT.92

Mapcode Global: WHFFV.G3MS

Entry Name: Roman fort and a section of Roman road 350m north west of Holly House Farm

Scheduled Date: 16 February 1953

Last Amended: 24 July 1998

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018529

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29923

County: Nottinghamshire

Civil Parish: Scaftworth

Traditional County: Nottinghamshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Nottinghamshire

Church of England Parish: Everton

Church of England Diocese: Southwell and Nottingham

Details

The monument includes the buried remains of Scaftworth Roman fort and an
adjacent section of Roman road. The site is situated approximately 1.5km to
the east of Bawtry in a field immediately east of the flood barrier bank of
the River Idle.
The monument was first recorded as an earthwork on an early map of
Nottinghamshire dating to 1774. By 1813 the site was no longer visible as an
earthwork, having been levelled as a result of the land being taken into
cultivation. The site was rediscovered from the air in 1944 as a crop mark.
The land is low lying and, until relatively recently when modern agricultural
drainage was installed, was frequently subject to floods although the sub soil
of the site itself is sand and by comparison is much drier.
The crop marks show that the rectangular fort is surrounded by a bank and
triple ditch system, the innermost ditch enclosing an area of just under
0.4ha. The innermost ditch has almost right angled corners while the outer
pair are more gently rounded at the corners. Access to the site would have
been gained through an entrance which is visible on the north east side. The
site is not precisely rectangular, the main deviation being the alignment of
the south west side. The north west side has been degraded by the excavation
of the large drainage ditch which forms the western field boundary.
Excavation of parts of the ditches has shown them to be between 3.04m and
4.57m wide and just under 1.52m deep. The ditches are `V' shaped in section
and had been waterlogged. From the evidence of pottery and a coin the site can
be dated to the second half of the fourth century AD. Fragments of pottery and
tile are still widely scattered over the surface of the site. From the
southern corner of the fort two parallel ditches run for a short distance to
the south east and terminate at an area of lower and probably marshy ground.
These appear to form a small annex but the precise relationship between the
outer ditch of the fort and those of the annex is unclear.
On the aerial photograph a large dark area is visible in the southern half of
the fort interior. Two excavation trenches were cut into this deposit and
found it to contain much occupation debris, confirming that the Roman levels
had been little disturbed by ploughing. A post hole and a number of hearths
were recorded.
The fort lies very close to where the Roman road from York to Lincoln crossed
the River Idle. A stretch of the road is clearly visible on the aerial
photograph as a dark line running north west to south east just north of the
fort. Recent excavations have shown there were two phases of road construction
and has confirmed both the alignment and construction of these. To the west of
the fort, in the river flood plain, the earlier road was built of turf and
timber and provided a `floating road' over the wet ground. This road ran
across the site of the fort and was considerably earlier in date than the
fort. Sometime later the timber and turf road was replaced by a more carefully
constructed gravel road which was 6m wide and flanked by rows of oak pegs. A
single radiocarbon date obtained from an oak post suggests a date in the third
century. It is a section of the later road which survives as a crop mark to
the north of the fort and is included within the scheduling.
The fort is associated with the Theodicean recovery of the northern province
in the mid to late fourth century (Roman Britain in the fourth century was
divided into four provinces for administrative purposes), its position
policing the route from the Trent valley towards Doncaster and then on to the
Vale of York. The site appears to be a purely military post with no evidence
of an associated civil settlement.
All modern fencing is excluded from the scheduling, although the ground
beneath is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Roman forts served as permanent bases for auxiliary units of the Roman Army.
In outline they were straight sided rectangular enclosures with rounded
corners, defined by a single rampart of turf, puddled clay or earth with one
or more outer ditches. Some forts had separately defended, subsidiary
enclosures or annexes, allowing additional storage space or for the
accommodation of troops and convoys in transit. Although built and used
throughout the Roman period, the majority of forts were constructed between
the mid first and mid second centuries AD. Some were only used for short
periods of time but others were occupied for extended periods on a more or
less permanent basis. In the earlier forts, timber was used for gateways,
towers and breastworks. From the beginning of the second century AD there was
a gradual replacement of timber with stone.
Roman forts are rare nationally and are extremely rare south of the Severn
Trent line. As one of a small group of Roman military monuments, which are
important in representing army strategy and therefore government policy, forts
are of particular significance to our understanding of the period. All Roman
forts with surviving archaeological potential are considered to be nationally
important.

Despite the lack of upstanding remains, Scaftworth Roman fort remains clearly
identifiable on aerial photographs. The archaeological documentation of the
site and its environs confirm that below ground remains survive extremely
well. The fill of the ditches has been shown to contain high levels of
organic remains and as such will preserve important environmental evidence
relating to the use of the site and the development of the surrounding
landscape. Taken as a whole, Scaftworth Roman fort will considerably enhance
our understanding of the Roman occupation of the area and the impact it had on
the wider environment.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Peck, W, A Topographical history of Bawtry and Thorne, (1813)
Todd, M, The Coritani, (1973), 127-128
Van de Noort, R, Ellis, S (eds), Wetland Heritage of the Humberhead Levels: An Archaeological Survey, (1997)
Van de Noort, R, Ellis, S (eds), Wetland Heritage of the Humberhead Levels: An Archaeological Survey, (1997), 409-428
Bartlett, J E, Riley, D N, 'Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire' in The Roman Fort at Scaftworth near Bawtry, , Vol. LXII, (1958), 24-35
Van de Noort, , Lillie, M, 'Current Archaeology' in Scaftworth: A TImber And Turf Roman Road, (1997), 272-273
Van de Noort, , Lillie, M, 'Current Archaeology' in Scaftworth: A TImber And Turf Roman Road, (1997), 272-273
Other
AM56 05096, Scaftworth Roman Fort,
DC34-5, EM D14 Special collection A, J.K St Joseph, (1944)

Source: Historic England

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