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Wickwar Roman small town 680m WNW of Hall End Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Wickwar, South Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.5845 / 51°35'4"N

Longitude: -2.4263 / 2°25'34"W

OS Eastings: 370556.706579

OS Northings: 187376.019783

OS Grid: ST705873

Mapcode National: GBR JY.CJC0

Mapcode Global: VH884.WFNP

Entry Name: Wickwar Roman small town 680m WNW of Hall End Farm

Scheduled Date: 28 September 2005

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021404

English Heritage Legacy ID: 36042

County: South Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Wickwar

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Wickwar Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Gloucester


The Roman small town at Wickwar comprises an area of approximately 16
hectares and lies 2km to the south west of Wickwar village. The site is
situated on a slight crest which drops away at the northern end of the site
towards the Ladden Brook.

The town has been identified through extensive geophysical survey and a
number of small trial excavations undertaken by Avon Archaeological Unit
between 2001-2004. It is believed to date from the 2nd to 4th centuries AD.
The remains are concentrated along a length of Roman road which runs across
the site on a north-south axis through the fields Little and Great
Blacklands. Although there is no evidence of a continuation of the metalled
Roman road immediately across the Ladden Brook, it is known to exist from
aerial photography further to the north of the site.

Geophysical survey results clearly show that the central area of the town
comprises a considerable number of stone buildings fronting the road, likely
to be of both domestic and commercial function. Beyond these buildings there
is evidence of a number of dispersed small enclosures, particularly in the
western part of the site. Trial excavations in the north eastern part of the
site have demonstrated the presence of shallow and well-preserved
archaeological deposits including the remains of timber structures, a series
of small lanes and ditches running at right angles to the central road, and
evidence of industrial activity; substantial amounts of iron working debris
were also recovered suggesting the presence of a smithy or iron furnace.

Numerous contemporary small finds have been reported from this area including
metal objects, pottery and dressed stone. Geophysical survey also revealed
the presence of a curved feature in the north eastern part of the site which
may represent a corner of the defensive ditch of a Roman fort. It is of the
characteristic `playing card' shape associated with such features and it is
certainly common for a town to be founded on the site of an earlier fort.

All post and wire fences, gates and gateposts and animal troughs are excluded
from the scheduling. The ground beneath all these features is, however,

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 small town at Wickwar survives well and is a good example of its
type. Geophysical survey and trial excavations have indicated the remains of
the small town are extensive, comprising a variety of features. These include
a number of buildings, enclosures, roads and ditches as well as a central
Roman road running through the site on a north-south axis. In addition, there
is also evidence for some industrial activity at the site. The area to the
north bounded by the Ladden Brook is waterlogged and therefore will contain
particularly rich deposits of preserved organic materials.

Source: Historic England

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