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Roman settlement remains immediately south of Westland Road

A Scheduled Monument in Yeovil, Somerset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.9389 / 50°56'19"N

Longitude: -2.6437 / 2°38'37"W

OS Eastings: 354868.02718

OS Northings: 115687.849836

OS Grid: ST548156

Mapcode National: GBR MN.P41Z

Mapcode Global: FRA 56BM.KVZ

Entry Name: Roman settlement remains immediately south of Westland Road

Scheduled Date: 9 February 1981

Last Amended: 24 April 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020547

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35302

County: Somerset

Civil Parish: Yeovil

Built-Up Area: Yeovil

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

Details

The monument includes the below ground remains of several Roman town
houses and at least two minor roads. These formed part of a Roman town,
which once stood astride a major road linking Lindinis (Ilchester) to
Durnovaria (Dorchester); the Roman name for Yeovil is not known.

The monument survives in the form of buried features which were revealed
by partial excavation, and includes the sites of houses, evidence of a
planned street layout with at least two roads, and a planned drainage
system.

A partial excavation, which was undertaken in 1927-8, exposed a series of
buildings grouped around a paved courtyard of approximately 62m by 52m.
These buildings are considered to represent at least four separate town
houses, each having a number of rooms; also exposed was a large open
structure which was possibly used for an agricultural or perhaps an
industrial function. The buildings were constructed to a high standard;
one was of bascilican form and most of the rooms were floored with either
mosaic or a yellow cement. A substantial building with an `L'-shaped plan,
located on the north west side of the courtyard displays several internal
features, which suggests that it was the house of a person of high status.
It includes a small apse containing a stone base which may indicate the
site of an altar or shrine and also a room with a white tessellated floor
which has a walled stone basin set into it. The remains of a possible
bath suite were uncovered in a building on the south east side of the
courtyard which contained a plastered plunge bath and drain. Auxiliary
buildings were also revealed, including a furnace room located in a
building on the north east side which housed the remains of a channelled
hypocaust (a below floor heating system), and a cellar located beneath a
four-roomed house on the south side of the courtyard with traces of steps
leading to it from above.

Sections of two roads, contemporary in date with the town houses, were
also identified during the same excavation, one located along the south
side and the other on the west. The course of the road identified on the
west side runs virtually parallel with the course of the major Roman road
from Ilchester to Dorchester, which is located approximately 200m to the
west. The roads are recorded as 3.3m wide with a slight camber and laid
with flat slabs of local stone approximately 0.3m deep. Both roads extend
beyond the partially excavated limits of the site. A series of drainage
channels which extend from the buildings into a further channel flank the
road on the west side. These run in the direction of a stream, thus
confirming the presence of a planned drainage system.

A further partial excavation undertaken in 1980 located a wall and an
additional stone-lined drain on the north east side of the site and this
is thought to be associated with the bath suite buildings previously
exposed. Dating evidence recovered suggests a first century AD foundation
for the town and a continued occupation throughout the Roman period until
at least the fourth century, and possibly later.

Several earlier finds recovered from beneath the Roman levels,
specifically from a building on the south west side of the courtyard,
indicate that the site was occupied for a while at some stage during the
Iron Age. Three iron arrowheads, together with flint and pottery were
found, although there is no evidence to support continual occupation from
this period through to the Roman occupation.

A number of items are excluded from the scheduling. These are: all
fencing and fence posts, all gates and gate posts, all fixed-post
litter bins, all telegraph poles, all concrete service markers and all
tarmac play areas; the ground beneath all these features is, however,
included.

MAP EXTRACT
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 Roman settlement remains immediately south of Westland Road are known
from partial excavation to contain the below ground remains of several
Roman buildings, some with impressive internal features. There is
additional evidence of Roman town planning in the form of streets and
planned drainage. The settlement remains have the potential to provide
further valuable information on the wealth, status, and lifestyle of the
town's occupants during the period between the first and the fourth
centuries AD.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Leech, R H, Romano-British Settlement in S Somerset and N Dorset, (1977), 13-20
Other
Leach, P and Burrow, I, Westalnds Roman Villa, Yeovil, 1981, Trial Excavations - Interim Report

Source: Historic England

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