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Historic England Research Records

Magnis Roman Town

Hob Uid: 108086
Location :
County of Herefordshire
Kenchester
Grid Ref : SO4400042800
Summary : The building remains of a walled Roman town, of probable military origins. Defences were built in earth from the mid-2nd century, and a later stone wall, gateways, bastions and ditches were built by the mid-4th century. There is also evidence for 5th century occupation of the site.
More information : (SO 440428) Magna (Roman Station) (R) (1)

The site has been known since Leland's time, and for long was believed to be Ariconium. Various diggings have been made in it, and organised excavations in 1912-13 and 1924-25 by G H Jack and A G Hayter. (2)

The area of the town, is approximately 22 acres. It was surrounded by a wall, of which some is stilll visible in NW corner, backed by a bank. A section dug in 1925 showed that the wall was "about 7 ft wide and consisted of rough cobbles set in clay": no trace of a ditch. Stukeley showed four gates - one near each of the NE and W corners and one in each of the S. sides, but none in the E wall, where the owner (Mr Hardwick) told Jack he had found one. Inside the walls two streets and possibly a third have been identified, also a number of buildings, mainly in the eastern half. The streets were well metalled and drained. On the evidence of coins and pottery occupation began under Vespasian (Frontinius); the coins, included a hoard of 51 in a hypocaust, end with Gratian (ob.383); "one indistinct coins only of Arcadius or Theodosius or Valentinian II may be as late as 392". "Mr. W.H. Stevenson has suggested that the name 'Magonsetum', the oldest recored form (811 AD) of the English Magesaetas .... may enshroud the name of Magni ...". Full report of 1912-13 and 1924-25 excavations in (3), with plans, ills. and c. Plan in (2). (3)

Finds of pendants for military horse trappings suggest a military origin for Magnis (4). Excavations in 1956-62 by F.G. Heys and M.J. Thomas revealed substantial occupation in the 1st and 2nd centuries along the line subsequently taken by the rampart. Not earlier than the middle of the 2nd century an earth rampart and ditch were constructed, and a stone wall was added in front of the rampart between then and the mid-4th century, when the west gateway was built, bastions added at intervals along the wall, and a new ditch made. Occupation continued into the 5th century (5).
MAGNIS accepted for RB 4 (8). (4-8)

A piece of walling at SO 43844287 and a stretch 20.0m long centred at SO 44104261 are all that remain of the Roman town wall. Elsewhere the perimeter is marked by a scarp slope 2.1m high inplaces, the south-west side of which has been destroyed by the modern road. There is no trace of any building or roads inside the banks.
Published survey (25") revised. (9)

Description of the layout of the Roman town. (10)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1905
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Source Number : 2
Source : An inventory of the historical monuments in Herefordshire. Volume II: east
Source details :
Page(s) : 93-95
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Source Number : 3
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : The Romano-British Town of Magna Vol 1 1916 Vol 2 1926 passium (G H Jack and A C K Hayter)
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Source Number : 4
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Civitas Capitals of Roman Britain 1966 pp41, 62 (J S Wacher)
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Source Number : 5
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Trans Woolhope Nat Field Club 37 1962 pp149-178 (F G Heys and M J Thomas)
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Source Number : 6
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Trans Woolhope Nat Field Club 9 1882 241-249 (Illust)
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Source Number : 7
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Trans Woolhope Nat Field Club 38 1966 pp192-195 Illust Photos (A Baker)
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Source Number : 8
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Map of Roman Britain (OS) 1956
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Source Number : 9
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 DRB 06-FEB-69
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Source Number : 10
Source : Roman Britain from the air
Source details :
Page(s) : 169-70
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : C2-C4
Monument End Date : 400
Monument Start Date : 101
Monument Type : Town, Town Defences
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit, Structure, Find
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : C5
Monument End Date : 500
Monument Start Date : 410
Monument Type : Settlement
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit

Components and Objects:
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Town, Town Defences
Object Type : HORSE TRAPPING
Object Material :

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : HE 29
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Hereford & Worcestershire)
External Cross Reference Number : 121
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SO 44 SW 3
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, MAGNIS ROMAN TOWN - KENCHESTER
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1912-01-01
End Date : 1913-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, MAGNIS ROMAN TOWN - KENCHESTER
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1924-01-01
End Date : 1925-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, MAGNIS ROMAN TOWN - KENCHESTER
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1956-01-01
End Date : 1956-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, MAGNIS ROMAN TOWN - KENCHESTER
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1956-01-01
End Date : 1962-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SO 44 SW 3
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1969-02-06
End Date : 1969-02-06
Associated Activities : Primary, OLD WEIR, KENCHESTER
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, NEW WEIR, KENCHESTER
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2005-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT MAGNA CASTRA FARM
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2011-01-01
End Date : 2011-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, MAGNIS ROMAN TOWN
Activity type : SALVAGE RECORDING
Start Date : 2014-01-01
End Date : 2014-12-31