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Roman piers and revetment in the River Itchen

A Scheduled Monument in Portswood, Southampton

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Latitude: 50.9203 / 50°55'13"N

Longitude: -1.384 / 1°23'2"W

OS Eastings: 443396.92754

OS Northings: 113612.119446

OS Grid: SU433136

Mapcode National: GBR RTG.5T

Mapcode Global: FRA 76ZN.YFX

Entry Name: Roman piers and revetment in the River Itchen

Scheduled Date: 29 April 2015

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1425731

County: Southampton

Electoral Ward/Division: Portswood

Built-Up Area: Southampton

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hampshire

Church of England Parish: Swaythling, Southampton St Alban

Church of England Diocese: Winchester


Three groups of wooden piles comprising two piers and a revetment in the tidal mud of the River Itchen.

Source: Historic England


Two piers and a riverside revetment on the N side of the River Itchen, one pier at right angles to the N bank, the other at a slightly different alignment.

The site is located within the intertidal mudflats of the River Itchen between Clausentum and St Denys, to the rear of 140-150 Priory Road, Southampton. It lies on alluvium over River Terrace Deposits 1-11 (mainly gravel).

The total number of wooden elements recorded were 179 piles, 4 horizontal planks and 3 braces. It was thought likely that further timbers survive around the recorded timbers, but the deep soft mud prevented further investigation. The majority of piles protrude up to 200mm from the mud and have tapered tops due to decay.

Analysis of the alignments indicates three different structures:

A pier aligned at right angles to the N river bank. This is the larger and more clearly defined of the three structures and includes a group of 57 mostly square piles. It is aligned NNE-SSW and lies at right angles to the present river channel. It comprises a regular grid of eight rows of seven piles, with two piles forming a row at the far S end. Its maximum dimensions are 15.5m by 7.5m. To the W of the pier were three horizontal timbers with squared edges interpreted as braces.

A second pier to the E of the first is set on a slightly different alignment. It includes an original group of 48 piles which are repaired and reinforced by a further 50 smaller piles. Its alignment is NE-SW. It includes both square and rounded piles in seven rows of varying numbers of piles at irregular intervals. Its maximum dimensions are 12m by 7.5m. Four planks lay among the piles of the pier and were thought to be associated with it.

Further NE and closest to the shore a riverside revetment is aligned to the river bank. The revetment comprises a group of 11 very large and almost square piles. The piles, each about 300mm square, run in two irregular rows some 2m apart, aligned NW-SE to run along what must have been the Roman shore line at that time. There is a possibility that they could be the end of a third pier which continued to the NE since the E-W measurement is 7.5m which is the same as the other two piers.

Some of the remaining piles of the 179 total which form a triangular area between the revetment and the second pier appear to form part of a different structure, the rest, and a brace, lie to the S and E of the first pier but do not form a regular pattern and, as yet, are of unknown function.

The scheduling aims to protect the known extent of the piles and planks which comprise the two piers and the revetment. The maximum extent of the monument is about 28.5m N-S by about 21.5m E-W.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The Roman piers and revetment in the River Itchen are scheduled for the following principal reasons:
* Rarity: the revetment is a very rare site type with very few examples surviving outside London; the find of a Roman pier not associated with a bridge structure is perhaps unique in this country;
* Potential: the piers in the River Itchen have the potential for further study for the structures themselves, for the pottery associated with the structures and for the information which can be gained about Roman activity in Southern England at this time;
* Survival: as waterlogged deposits the piles of the revetment and piers survive well;
* Documentation: these Roman structures are well documented through survey with individual sizes of piles and location recorded;
* Group value: the piers and revetment have group value with other Roman sites in the vicinity including those on the west bank in St Denys and Clausentum on the east bank of the River Itchen.

Source: Historic England


Dr AD Russel, GL Elliott and EL McDonald, Southampton Archaeology Unit Report 1077, Survey of Roman structures in the River Itchen between Clausentum and St Denys, Southampton, 2013
PR Cottrell, Southampton Archaeology Unit Report 1035, Archaeological desk-based assessment of Bitterne Manor Park, Southampton, 2011

Source: Historic England

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