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Roman fort, Saxon church and medieval hospital at Dodderhill

A Scheduled Monument in Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.2715 / 52°16'17"N

Longitude: -2.1446 / 2°8'40"W

OS Eastings: 390228.822467

OS Northings: 263710.292

OS Grid: SO902637

Mapcode National: GBR 1F8.JMN

Mapcode Global: VH92G.S53J

Entry Name: Roman fort, Saxon church and medieval hospital at Dodderhill

Scheduled Date: 13 April 1983

Last Amended: 12 March 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020621

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30094

County: Worcestershire

Civil Parish: Droitwich Spa

Built-Up Area: Droitwich

Traditional County: Worcestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Worcestershire

Church of England Parish: Droitwich Spa

Church of England Diocese: Worcester

Details

The monument includes the known extent of the buried and earthwork remains of
the Roman fort at Dodderhill, as well as the remains of the early medieval
church lying beneath St Augustine's Church and the buried remains of the
medieval hospital of St Mary's located in the south eastern angle of the
fort.

The Roman fort was located in a prominent position on rising ground to the
north of the site of the Roman town known as Salinae (modern Droitwich)
above the River Salwarp and adjacent to a Roman road running north from the
town. Excavations in the 1970s recovered evidence for Iron Age activity,
followed by the establishment of a Roman fort. The fort is believed to have
been constructed in the first century AD with occupation ending in AD 70,
followed by a second period of occupation during the mid-second century.
Outer defences were located on the west, east and north sides, whilst on the
southern side the defences are believed to have been provided by the steep
natural topography. In profile the outer ditch was vertical on the outer face
and steep sided on the inner, with a small V-shaped channel at the base. It
measured up to 5m wide and 3.5m deep and is one of the standard ditch forms
employed by the Roman army. The northern gateway was located centrally along
the northern defences. Artefactual evidence including pottery, building
materials, metal work, and animal and human bones relating to the Roman
occupation were also recovered. Excavations of the interior of the fort
located cobbled roads, ditches and rubbish pits in the area of the modern
churchyard. The buildings of St Augustine's Church date from the mid-12th
century and documentation for the parish survives from the mid-16th century.
Excavations in the 1990s in advance of the construction of a new building
demonstrated the survival of an earlier church lying beneath the present one.
This earlier building, constructed of massive sandstone blocks on a different
alignment to the later church, is believed to be pre-Norman in date and is
thought to represent a minster, an early church ministering to a large
area supported by a community of canons.

In 1285 a hospital dedicated to St Mary was founded and endowed with rents,
land and salt, a valuable commodity in the Middle Ages. The hospital was
located in the south eastern angle of the earlier Roman fort. It survived the
Reformation but was closed during the later 16th century. Later it was used
for St Augustine's vicarage which was itself demolished in the 19th century,
although some of the medieval buildings of the hospital may have been
converted into charity cottages belonging to the church; others were
demolished in 1845 when the railway cutting was constructed. St Augustine's
Church is a Listed Building Grade B.

The school buildings and the area of grounds immediately to the west of the
main buildings are not included in the scheduling as the archaeological
deposits in these areas have been removed by 18th century landscaping and
gardening and by the construction of the modern school buildings.

The Church of St Augustine and all modern surfaces and fences are excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included. The
area of churchyard to the north and east of the church is totally excluded
from the scheduling, both above and below ground.

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.

The remains of Dodderhill Roman fort survive well despite some disturbance
caused by continuous use and development of the area. Its prominent location
will add to the understanding of Roman military strategy during the earliest
period. In addition, its position above the salt springs and adjacent to the
Roman road will provide information about Roman exploitation of the salt
deposits in Salinae. Artefactual evidence will illustrate the variety of
activities carried out in and around the Roman fort and the relative wealth of
its occupants, whilst environmental evidence will provide information about
the diet and standard of living within the fort and about the natural
environment immediately surrounding it.

The importance of the location continued after the Roman occupation ended and
is demonstrated by the successive use of the site for a Saxon church, followed
by a medieval church and hospital. The remains of these will demonstrate the
changing building techniques and ritual practices of religious houses from the
Saxon to the late-medieval period, whilst artefactual evidence will illustrate
the wealth and connections of the people who used the church and hospital. The
survival of human remains from the Saxon church and the medieval hospital
cemeteries, together with other environmental evidence, will illustrate the
diet, health and living conditions of the local population throughout the
Middle Ages.

Source: Historic England

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