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Romano-Celtic temple 590m south east of St James's Church

A Scheduled Monument in Wicklewood, Norfolk

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.5837 / 52°35'1"N

Longitude: 1.081 / 1°4'51"E

OS Eastings: 608825.229722

OS Northings: 302885.350826

OS Grid: TG088028

Mapcode National: GBR TFD.439

Mapcode Global: WHLSL.KBZ4

Entry Name: Romano-Celtic temple 590m south east of St James's Church

Scheduled Date: 11 June 1975

Last Amended: 28 January 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020862

English Heritage Legacy ID: 30628

County: Norfolk

Civil Parish: Wicklewood

Traditional County: Norfolk

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Norfolk

Church of England Parish: High Oak

Church of England Diocese: Norwich

Details

The monument includes the buried remains of a Romano-Celtic temple, situated
in an elevated position with commanding views to the north, south and east.
The site was discovered in 1959, when crop marks (lines of differential crop
growth above wall foundations) were observed, and a partial excavation of the
site was carried out in August of the same year. The site is marked on the
ground surface by fragments of tile and large flints. Evidence that there was
a settlement in the vicinity is provided by numerous fragments of Roman
pottery, coins and metal work, dating from the first to the fourth century AD,
which have been found in ploughsoil around and to the north of the site. Finds
of Late Iron Age coins and metalwork within the same area indicate that the
site was already a focus of activity in the period preceding the Roman
occupation of Britain.

The crop marks recorded in aerial photographs show the outline of the buried
wall footings very clearly, and further details were established during the
excavation. The building was rectangular in plan, with overall dimensions of
approximately 15m north-south by 17m east-west. A square inner chamber, known
as a cella, measuring about 8.5m on each side, was surrounded by an ambulatory
(passageway) around 3.5m wide on the north, west and south sides and 5m wide
on the east side, where the entrance would have been situated. The walls
exposed by excavation were between 0.75m and 0.9m thick and constructed of
mortared flint rubble with traces of a tile bonding course. Those of the cella
were faced internally with the remains of plaster painted with a design in
yellow and black on a red ground, and fragments of fallen plaster were found
in the interior. At the centre of the cella was a massive foundation of
mortared flint about 1.8m in diameter, which was perhaps the base for an altar
or cult statue, and to the west of this there were remains of a clay hearth.
Evidence for a mosaic floor was also found, in the form of chalk and fired
clay tesserae.

The temple building would have stood within an outer enclosure, called the
temenos. Temenoi were normally surrounded by a ditch, stockade or wall, but
the recorded crop marks on this site have not shown any feature corresponding
to such a boundary, and its precise extent is therefore unknown.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 10 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Romano-Celtic temples were built to meet the spiritual needs of the
communities they served by venerating the god or spirit considered to dwell in
a particular place. The temple building was regarded as the treasure house of
its deity and priests rather than as a congregational building and any
religious activities, including private worship, communal gatherings,
sanctuary and healing, took place outside.
Romano-Celtic temples included the temple building and a surrounding sacred
precinct or temenos which could be square, circular, rectangular or polygonal
in ground plan. The temple building invariably faced due east and was the
focus of the site, although it did not necessarily occupy the central position
in the temenos. It comprised a cella, or inner temple chamber, an ambulatory
or walkway around the cella, and sometimes annexes or antechambers. The
buildings were constructed of a variety of materials, including stone, cob and
timber, and walls were often plastered and painted both internally and
externally. Some temenoi enclosed other buildings, often substantial and built
in materials and styles similar to those of the temple; these are generally
interpreted as priests' houses, shops or guest houses.
Romano-Celtic temples were built and used throughout the Roman period from the
mid first century AD to the late fourth/early fifth century AD, with
individual examples being used for relatively long periods of time. They were
widespread throughout southern and eastern England, although there are no
examples in the far south west and they are rare nationally with only about
150 sites recorded in England. In view of their rarity and their importance in
contributing to the complete picture of Roman religious practice, including
its continuity from Iron Age practice, all Romano-Celtic temples with
surviving archaeological potential are considered to be of national
importance.

The Romano-Celtic temple 590m south east of St James's Church is one of only
four sites of this type to have been identified with certainty in Norfolk, and
is a good example of one of the characteristic forms of such temples. The
limited excavations carried out in 1959 confirmed that substantial remains hav
survived the ploughing of the site and clarified some details of the central
building, but the monument will retain additional archaeological information
concerning the date of construction of the temple, the duration of its use and
the ritual practices of those who used it. The temple evidently served the
inhabitants of an adjacent settlement, whose existence and local importance is
demonstrated by numerous finds of Roman artefacts in the surrounding area and
which, on the evidence of the finds of Iron Age coins and metalwork probably
had its origins in the pre-Roman period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Howlett, D, 'CBA Group 7: Bulleting of archaeological discoveries' in , , Vol. 6, (1959), 3
Other
8897 Crownthorpe Roman Temple: 18111 Field N of temple site,
Edwards, D, Norfolk Landscape Archaeology TG 0802/AG, AH, (1993)
Edwards,D, Norfolk Landscape Archaeology TG 0802/AX, (1996)

Source: Historic England

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