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Bourton Bridge Roman settlement

A Scheduled Monument in Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.8856 / 51°53'8"N

Longitude: -1.7692 / 1°46'9"W

OS Eastings: 415982.8716

OS Northings: 220807.8588

OS Grid: SP159208

Mapcode National: GBR 4QD.PKC

Mapcode Global: VHB1W.9V2W

Entry Name: Bourton Bridge Roman settlement

Scheduled Date: 24 July 1948

Last Amended: 11 January 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018608

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31930

County: Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Bourton-on-the-Water

Built-Up Area: Bourton-on-the-Water

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Lower Slaughter St Mary

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester


The monument, which falls into six areas of protection divided by the lines of
the A429 and A436, as well as a housing estate and the River Windrush,
consists of the largely buried remains of a Roman settlement stretching along
both sides of the Foss Way, 800m to the west of the village of Bourton-on-the-
Water. The monument lies in areas of open ground to the east and west of the
A429, and to the west of the A436 which joins the Foss Way at Bourton. The
Roman settlement is thought to have grown up between the crossing point of the
Foss Way over the River Windrush, and the junction of the Foss with Buckle
Street 150m to the north of the ford.
Material recovered from the area of the settlement indicates that the site was
founded during the late first to early second century AD and continued to be
occupied into the early fifth century. Excavations along both sides of the
Foss Way have revealed evidence for a number of structures and other features,
including the Roman ford, which lay beneath the modern road bridge. In 1959 H
O'Neil's investigations to the west of the road in the area of the 19th
century railway embankment revealed what is thought to have been a posting-
house (mansio or mutatio), while to the east of the road evidence for three
other structures was also revealed and interpreted as a wayside shrine, a
bakehouse and a `transport cafe'.
To the south of the bridge there is further evidence for Roman occupation and
activity. To the east of the Foss Way, excavations by Renfrew in the 1970s
revealed a number of circular structures, a wall, a ditch and the remains of
what is thought to have been an industrial area. To the west of the road
evidence for occupation has been found in the form of a building excavated by
O'Neil in the late 1950s, along with numerous finds of coins and pottery
and a hoard of 2,707 Constantinian folles discovered in 1970. Work during the
1970s and 1990s has also indicated the lines of two roads, one on either side
of the river, running east from the ford towards Salmonsbury Camp. Evidence
for structures lining the northern road was also found, but as this area has
been developed, it is not included in the scheduling.
A number of features are excluded; these are all wooden and post and wire
fences, gates and gateposts, telegraph poles and associated supports, road
signs, modern service boxes, the motoring organisation emergency telephone
box, all tarmac and gravel surfaces and modern stuctures associated with
Whiteshoots Garage, culverts and water management features along the course of
the River Windrush and brick revetting and earthworks associated with the
19th century railway embankment, the ground beneath all these features is,
however, included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Five types of town are known to have existed in Roman Britain: coloniae,
municipia, civitas capitals, Roman provincial capitals and Roman small towns.
The first four types can be classified as `public towns' because each had an
official status within the provincial administrative system.
Roman small towns are settlements of urban character which lack the
administrative status of public towns, but which are nevertheless recognisably
urban in terms of morphology, features and function. They tend to lack the
planned rectangular street grids, public buildings and well-appointed town
houses of the public towns and instead are generally characterised by mainly
insubstantial timber or half-timbered structures. Some small towns possess an
enclosing wall, while others have masonry or earthwork defences. Additional
features include temples, bath houses, ovens, kilns and cemeteries.
Roman small towns began to emerge in the mid-first century AD. However, the
majority of examples appeared in the later first and second centuries, while
the third and fourth centuries saw the growth and development of existing
establishments, together with the emergence of a small number of new ones.
Some small towns had their origins in earlier military sites such as fort-vici
and developed into independent urban areas following the abandonment of the
forts. Others developed alongside major roads and were able to exploit a wide
range of commercial opportunities as a result of their location. There are a
total of 133 Roman small towns recorded in England. These are mainly
concentrated in the Midlands and central southern England. Some examples have
survived as undeveloped `greenfield' sites and consequently possess
particularly well-preserved archaeological remains.

The settlement at Bourton Bridge is known from excavations to survive well. It
lies almost halfway between Cirencester and the Roman town at Dorn, and is
likely to have had an official function from the date of its foundation. The
earliest material recovered from the site indicates that the settlement had
been established by the late first century AD, and continued to be occupied
into the early fifth century. Further buried remains will provided valuable
evidence for the development of this settlement and its place in the regional
settlement hierarchy.
Bourton-on-the-Water was the subject of an archaeological assessment by
Gloucestershire County Council Archaeological Service in 1997. This provided
information on the development of Bourton from the 1st century AD to the

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Timby, J R, Kingscote: A Romano-British Estate Centre in the Cotswolds, (1998), 456-466

Source: Historic England

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