HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Historic England research records Result
Historic England research recordsPrintable version | About Historic England research records

Historic England Research Records

Abona

Hob Uid: 198200
Location :
City Of Bristol
City Of Bristol
City Of Bristol
Grid Ref : ST5510075800
Summary : Sea Mills is the location of the ferry crossing, trading centre and small Roman town of Abonae. Excavations revealed some evidence of Iron Age occupation, as well as 1st century timber buildings and a later street pattern with narrow plots and stone foundation buildings extant by the late 2nd century. It is thought that occupation continued into the latter half of the 2nd century but as Sea Mills was exposed to attack the settlement probably did not continue much into the 5th century.Among the settlement evidence is a cremation cemetery dating to the later 1st century, over 100 Roman coins and the presence of military equipment. Although originally it was thought there could have been an early Roman fort at the site, there is little evidence for this and the presence of the military equipment has been reinterpreted as evidence of stores. Spanish amphorae shows extensive trading and it is therefore feasible that stores of military equipment were kept for shipping to other areas.
More information : (ST 55027572) Roman Remains found here (NAT). (1)

(ST 55127576) Roman Building (R) (Remains of). (2)

(ST 55257558) Roman Sepulchral Stone found AD 1873 (NAT). (3)

(ST 551758) Abonae (R). (4)

Portus Abonae was a ferry terminal on the route between Silchester and Caerleon, and a local trading centre, using the mouth of the River Trym as a harbour. The settlement probably began as the vicus of a Claudian fort, the site of which must lie under the Portway and the houses of Hadrian's Close. Foundation trenches of timber buildings dating from the 1st century have been found, followed later by a street pattern; and at the end of the 2nd century by buildings with stone foundations including typical shops with narrow street frontages. Occupation has been proved into the second half of the fourth century, but the position of Sea Mills was exposed to sea attack, and it is unlikely that the settlement survived long into the 5th century. (For further details see the accompanying map diagram). (5-8)

(ST 553756) "Excavations in 1972, at Nazareth House, revealed more of Abonae. Traces of IA occupation were found followed by an AD 70 cremation cemetery. Quarry scoops suggest town rebuilding after AD 90 and the linear pattern of the quarries suggests a northward extension of the town. Finds included brooches from La Tene II onwards and three later burials (ritualistic?) post AD 150 but otherwise undateable".

Name 'ABONA' accepted for 4th. edition R.B. Map. (9-10)

From the considerable body of material evidence, including more than 100 Claudio-Neronian coins and over 15 items of military equipment, it is certain that a military force was resident at Sea Mills about the mid 1st century. With the absence of definite structural evidence it is not clear whether the presumed military post was a garrison fort or an installation connected with the harbour.

The military gear has been found on the low ground close to the confluence of the Avon and Trym which is more likely to have been occupied by quays and storehouses than by a fort. It is possible that Sea Mills was a stores or supply depot served by a naval detachment operating in the Bristol Channel area. The length of occupation is not known, but a number of stamped tiles and a brick of 'Legio II Augusta' hint strongly that a unit was still here in the 2nd century.

See plan of find sites (11).

A bronze figurine of Jupiter found at Sea Mills is in Bristol City Museum and an altar also dedicated to this god has also been found there (14).(11-14)


Full reports of 1965-8 excavations. (15)

and 1972 excavations. (16)

List of remains found since 1712, with sub references. (17)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1938
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 1:1250 1952
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : The Roman West Country
Source details :
Page(s) : 102-104
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 12
Source : Avon Archaeological Council newsletter
Source details : Autumn 1976
Page(s) : 6
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 13
Source : Early fine wares in Roman Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 324-367
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 57
Source Number : 14
Source : A corpus of small cult-objects from the military areas of Roman Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 70
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 52
Source Number : 15
Source : Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society
Source details :
Page(s) : 15-108
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 105
Source Number : 16
Source : The Roman town of Abonae : excavations at Nazareth House, Sea Mills, Bristol, 1972
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : no.3
Source Number : 17
Source : Bristol and Avon Archaeological Research Group bulletin
Source details :
Page(s) : 18, 23, 24-25
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 3
Source Number : 3
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 6" 1955
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 1" 1967
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Bristol Archaeological Research Group (B.A.R.G.) bulletin
Source details :
Page(s) : 15-16
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 2
Source Number : 6
Source : Bristol Archaeological Research Group (B.A.R.G.) bulletin
Source details :
Page(s) : 64-66
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 5
Source Number : 7
Source : Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society
Source details :
Page(s) : 193-201
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 45
Source Number : 8
Source : Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society
Source details :
Page(s) : 258-295
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 66
Source Number : 9
Source : Bristol Archaeological Research Group (B.A.R.G.) bulletin
Source details :
Page(s) : 201
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 04:07
Source Number : 10
Source : Council for British Archaeology Group 12: Newsletter
Source details :
Page(s) : 29
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 7

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Iron Age
Display Date : Iron Age
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -800
Monument Type : Settlement
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Latter half C2
Monument End Date : 200
Monument Start Date : 151
Monument Type : Building
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : C1
Monument End Date : 100
Monument Start Date : 43
Monument Type : Timber Framed Building
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : To late C4
Monument End Date : 400
Monument Start Date : 43
Monument Type : Settlement, Town, Ferry Crossing, Storehouse, Fort
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit, Find, Conjectural Evidence
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : c70 AD
Monument End Date : 80
Monument Start Date : 60
Monument Type : Cremation Cemetery
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit, Find

Components and Objects:
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Building
Object Type :
Object Material : Stone
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Settlement, Town, Ferry Crossing, Storehouse, Fort
Object Type : COIN, WEAPON, AMPHORA
Object Material : Pottery
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Cremation Cemetery
Object Type : HUMAN REMAINS
Object Material :

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : ST 57 NE 33
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : REAR OF SEA MILLS STATION
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1912-01-01
End Date : 1913-12-31
Associated Activities : THE PORTWAY, SEA MILLS
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1922-01-01
End Date : 1922-12-31
Associated Activities : ROMAN WAY/PORTWAY, SEA MILLS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1923-01-01
End Date : 1923-12-31
Associated Activities : ROMAN WAY/PORTWAY, SEA MILLS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1934-01-01
End Date : 1934-12-31
Associated Activities : EAST OF PORTWAY, SEA MILLS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1937-01-01
End Date : 1938-12-31
Associated Activities : NORTH SIDE PORTWAY, SEA MILLS
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1940-01-01
End Date : 1940-12-31
Associated Activities : HADRIAN CLOSE, SEA MILLS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1945-01-01
End Date : 1946-12-31
Associated Activities : HADRIAN CLOSE, SEA MILLS
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1945-01-01
End Date : 1945-12-31
Associated Activities : 75 ROMAN WAY, SEA MILLS
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1950-01-01
End Date : 1950-12-31
Associated Activities : 31 HADRIAN CLOSE, SEA MILLS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1954-01-01
End Date : 1954-12-31
Associated Activities : 65 ROMAN WAY, SEA MILLS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1962-01-01
End Date : 1962-12-31
Associated Activities : ABON HOUSE, ROMAN WAY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1965-01-01
End Date : 1966-12-31
Associated Activities : 75 SEA MILLS LANE
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1965-01-01
End Date : 1965-12-31
Associated Activities : 74 ROMAN WAY, SEA MILLS
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1965-01-01
End Date : 1965-12-31
Associated Activities : 21 HADRIAN CLOSE, SEA MILLS
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1965-01-01
End Date : 1965-12-31
Associated Activities : 43-49 ROMAN WAY, SEA MILLS
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1965-01-01
End Date : 1965-12-31
Associated Activities : 20-23 HADRIAN CLOSE, SEA MILLS
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1965-01-01
End Date : 1965-12-31
Associated Activities : 18 HADRIAN CLOSE, SEA MILLS
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1965-01-01
End Date : 1965-12-31
Associated Activities : 7-9 HADRIAN CLOSE, SEA MILLS
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1965-01-01
End Date : 1965-12-31
Associated Activities : 5 HADRIAN CLOSE, SEA MILLS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1965-01-01
End Date : 1965-12-31
Associated Activities : 28 HADRIAN CLOSE, SEA MILLS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1965-01-01
End Date : 1965-12-31
Associated Activities : 87 SEA MILLS LANE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1967-01-01
End Date : 1967-12-31
Associated Activities : 9 HADRIAN CLOSE, SEA MILLS
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1967-01-01
End Date : 1967-12-31
Associated Activities : 51 ROMAN WAY, SEA MILLS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1968-01-01
End Date : 1968-12-31
Associated Activities : NAZARETH HOUSE, SEA MILLS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1972-01-01
End Date : 1972-12-31
Associated Activities : 38 AVON WAY, SEA MILLS
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1991-01-01
End Date : 1991-12-31
Associated Activities : 75 SEA MILLS LANE, SEA MILLS
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2005-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : 31 HADRIAN CLOSE, SEA MILLS
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2005-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : 31 HADRIAN CLOSE, SEA MILLS
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2006-01-01
End Date : 2006-12-31
Associated Activities : 8 HADRIAN CLOSE, SEA MILLS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2009-01-01
End Date : 2009-12-31
Associated Activities : 17-19 HADRIAN CLOSE, SEA MILLS
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2012-01-01
End Date : 2012-12-31