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Section of Rykneld Street Roman road and remains of Bronze Age cemetery at Littleover

A Scheduled Monument in Littleover, Derby

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Latitude: 52.9039 / 52°54'13"N

Longitude: -1.5184 / 1°31'6"W

OS Eastings: 432487.010109

OS Northings: 334154.067358

OS Grid: SK324341

Mapcode National: GBR P8N.8D

Mapcode Global: WHCFV.N84P

Entry Name: Section of Rykneld Street Roman road and remains of Bronze Age cemetery at Littleover

Scheduled Date: 31 January 1975

Last Amended: 8 March 2004

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021321

English Heritage Legacy ID: 23287

County: Derby

Electoral Ward/Division: Littleover

Built-Up Area: Derby

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Littleover St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Derby


The monument includes a section of Rykneld Street Roman road and remains of a
Bronze Age cemetery at Littleover, 4km south west of Derventio, the Roman
fort at Little Chester. Further remains were believed to survive to the north
east where modern development overlies the original line of the Roman road and
beneath what was once the car park of the Forte Posthouse Hotel. However, this
area has been the subject of extensive development activity and is not
included in the scheduling.

Visible remains consist of, a raised embankment, approximately 5m wide
surviving to a height of approximately 0.75m. This is now believed to be a
medieval headland and field boundary. The buried remains of the Roman road are
slightly offset to the east of the headland, but are not visible above
ground. They include drainage features and construction pits flanked by
shallow boundary ditches. These remains form part of the Roman road between
Wall, near Lichfield, and the fort at Little Chester, and were probably
constructed during the mid-first century AD although they would subsequently
have been repaired and resurfaced several times during the period of Roman
occupation. Plough scars cutting the Roman road surface indicate that in the
post-Roman period the site was used for arable land. The road may have served
as a boundary or headland, indicated by earthwork remains of medieval ridge
and furrow ploughing which exist to the north east of the area of scheduling.
It may also have remained in use as a road. In the 18th century, it formed
part of the Birmingham to Derby turnpike. However, it is also possible that by
this time, the main road had been diverted onto the present course of the A38
at Pastures Hill.

Archaeological excavation in 2003 by the Birmingham University Field
Archaeology Unit identified the presence of a Bronze Age cremation cemetery in
the area between the road and Pastures Hill. Artefacts recovered included a
near complete Bronze age cremation urn as well as evidence for Iron Age
occupation. The scheduling includes an alignment of prehistoric pits which may
have formed part of a prehistoric land division. One pit, which falls outside
the scheduled area, has been securely dated to the late Iron Age after
recovery of pottery of this date from the pit's primary fill. Excavation led
to the identification of other cremations of possible Bronze Age date,
indicating the area may have served as a long lived ritual landscape,
including Bronze Age to Roman activity in the Roman road's alignment. It has
been suggested that the Bronze Age cremations could have been laid out along
the line of a Bronze Age trackway which continued in use into, or was returned
to use, during the Roman period.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Roman roads were artificially made-up routes introduced to Britain by the
Roman army from c.AD 43. They facilitated both the conquest of the
province and its subsequent administration. Their main purpose was to
serve the Cursus Publicus, or Imperial mail service. Express messengers
could travel up to 150 miles (241km) per day on the network of Roman roads
throughout Britain and Europe, changing horses at wayside `mutationes'
(posting stations set every 8 miles (12.87km) on major roads) and stopping
overnight at `mansiones' (rest houses located every 20-25 miles
(32km-40km). In addition, throughout the Roman period and later, Roman
roads acted as commercial routes and became foci for settlement and
industry. Mausolea were sometimes built flanking roads during the Roman
period while, in the Anglian and medieval periods, Roman roads often
served as property boundaries. Although a number of roads fell out of use
soon after the withdrawal of Rome from the province in the fifth century
AD, many have continued in use down to the present day and are
consequently sealed beneath modern roads.
On the basis of construction technique, two main types of Roman road are
distinguishable. The first has widely spaced boundary ditches and a broad
elaborate agger comprising several layers of graded materials. The second
usually has drainage ditches and a narrow simple agger of two or three
successive layers. In addition to ditches and construction pits flanking
the sides of the road, features of Roman roads can include central stone
ribs, kerbs and culverts, not all of which will necessarily be
contemporary with the original construction of the road. With the
exception of the extreme south-west of the country, Roman roads are widely
distributed throughout England and extend into Wales and lowland Scotland.
They are highly representative of the period of Roman administration and
provide important evidence of Roman civil engineering skills as well as
the pattern of Roman conquest and settlement. A high proportion of
examples exhibiting good survival are considered to be worthy of

The section of Rykneld Street Roman road and remains of Bronze Age cemetery
at Littleover is well-preserved and represents one of the few surviving
stretches of the Roman road that ran between Wall and Little Chester. The
Bronze Age cremation urn and other artefactual evidence will provide, after
detailed analysis, an excellent chronological framework for interpreting the
site. They also add evidence to the suggestion that the high ground could
have been settled during prehistory.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Dodd, A E, Dodd, E M, Peakland Roads and Trackways, (1980)
Cockerton, R W P, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in On the Development of the Roman Street System, Derbyshire, , Vol. 73, (1953)
Title: Map of Roman Britain
Source Date: 1978

Source: Historic England

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