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Historic England Research Records

Clausentum

Hob Uid: 230258
Location :
City Of Southampton
City Of Southampton
City Of Southampton
Grid Ref : SU4342013340
Summary : Slight remains of a small fortified Roman town, possibly Clausentum; it occupies a promontory caused by a bend in the River Itchen. The site was occupied from circa 70 AD, excavations uncovered a hut site and possible wharves; lead pigs, now lost, were also found. A ditch cut off the promontory enclosing an area of 27.5 acres. During the early second century timber houses were built and circa 150 AD a palisade was put across the promontory inside the ditch reducing the area enclosed to eight acres. The first stone buildings, including a bath-house, were erected circa 170-80 AD. In about 350-70 AD the palisade was replaced by a stone wall which seems to have enclosed the whole settlement. At this time the bath-house was also rebuilt and the other stone buildings demolished. This late 4th century phase has been interpreted as a possible Saxon Shore fort, replacing Portchester, though it could be just a small fortified town. Bitterne is recorded as a Saxon burh and presumably the stone defences were utilised during the Anglo-Saxon period.
More information : (SU 4340 1331) Clausentum Roman Town (R) (Site of)
(SU 4348 1336) Ditch (R) (SU 4370 1352) Vallum (R)
(SU 4333 1337) Roman Building (Remains of) (R)
(SU 4335 1338) Wall (Remains of) (R)
(SU 4348 1326) Roman Well (Site of) (R)
(Name centred SU 4322 1328) Roman Pigs of Lead found AD 1918 (NAT) (1)

Some 3 miles above its junction with Southampton Water, the River Itchen takes an almost semi-circular bend and encloses a promontory of land on which is situated a Roman site. In Md times the area became the Manor of Bitterne. Bitterne is mentioned by Leland and Camden, but it remained to a local antiquary Dr John Speed to demonstrate the identification of Bitterne with the Clausentum of the Antonine Itinerary. Following the RO. conquest, Bitterne assumed importance as the site of a small port which was probably not founded before c AD 70., the Flavian period. A few rubbish pits and occupation levels, a hut site and perhaps wooden wharves and some lost lead pigs of Vespasianic date represent the present evidence. Possibly the outer earthwork is of this date. Traces of timbered houses of the Trajanic period have been uncovered, and c 150 AD or later, a wooden stockade was built across the neck of the promontory inside and parallel to the outer earthwork, reducing the defended area from 27 1/2 acres to less than 8 acres. The inner ditch may be contemporary with the stockade. c AD 170/180 the first stone buildings appeared, of which a bath house and the W wall of an important building now beneath the manor house, have been located. These buildings were altered some time before c AD 350/370, at which time the bath house was rebuilt and the other buildings demolished. At this time also, the inner area within the stockade was provided with a stone wall. There was a renewal of building activity c AD 390, but over this last occupation is a debris level which shows no structural activity until Md times. The first recording of existing remains was in 1779-1801 when Northam Bridge and the road across the area were constructed, and in 1804-5 during work in the grounds of the Manor house. The area was extensively developed c 1900, but the first excavations were in 1935-7 by Messrs Waterman and Maitland Muller, continued until the outbreak of war, and resumed by Muller in 1946. In the same year, Mrs A Cotton commenced excavations, which were continued in 1951. A further rescue excavation was carried out by P W Gathercole in 1954 prior to land development in Steward Road. (2)

The sole visible structural remains at Clausentum comprise the restored foundations of the bath house and a fragment of the town wall on the N side, now reduced to an overgrown bank. (See Map Diagram)
Published 1/1250 survey revised. (3)

Richmond, Frere and Cunliffe subscribe to the view that Bitterne/Clausentum was a Saxon Shore fort, which replaced Portchester in the Theodosian reorganisation. The evidence being (i) that the coin sequence at Portchester, in marked contrast to that at other forts such as Pevensey and Richborough, shows a sharp decline in numbers after 367 AD, and (ii) that the wall at Clausentum has been proved by excavation to date to approximately that same year, and has the round ballistaria towers typical of the period. But this is hardly more than a hypothesis:-
a The thought did not occur to the excavators (6-7).
b The 'promontory' - type fort would be very unusual.
c The dating evidence for the wall at Clausentum is decidedly slender. It rests on the wall being later than, but immediately following on, an occupation layer containing late New Forest pottery and a single badly corroded coin of Valens; this last in the lowest part of the layer at a place where it was some 6" thick. But such a coin is surely likely to be at least 10 years old when deposited, and another few years ought to be allowed for accumulation of the layer. So that the wall is likely to be later than Theodosian, and might be very much later, even Medieval. Nothing categorically Roman was found in the wall structure, and Waterman does not venture on any closer dating than 'Valens +'.
d The wall turrets are not well authenticated, and depend entirely on a note and sketch of 1804. None were located in the modern excavations.
e) In the Richborough Report Cunliffe argues (against his later opinion) that as the relevant part of the Notitia Dignitatum is considered to derive from post-Theodosian military lists, Clausentum, if replacing Portchester, should be mentioned, but Portus Adurni (if Portchester) should not. And that as the contrary is the case, Clausentum could never have been more than a fortified town. And he takes this to imply that the south coast west of Pevensey was left undefended after about 370 AD. In the present state of knowledge, it is perhaps best to assume that the wall at Clausentum was Roman, and Theodosian or sub-Theodosian. But what it defended may have been a sea-port cum garrison town rather than a purely military base. (4-9)

Four Roman milestones and three possible milestones were found at Bitterne between 1800 and 1850. Four of them had apparently been built into the Roman wall. Two are in the Tudor House Museum, Southampton; the remainder are lost. (10)

(Name 'CLAVSENTVM'? accepted for 4th. edition R.B. Map.)

Antonine Iter VII begins at Chichester but the identity of "CLAUSENTUM' has still to be established. Although it is recorded as 20 Roman miles from Chichester and 10 from Winchester. Clausentum has been attributed, since the 18th century, to the Roman town and naval base at Bitterne, but there is no corroborative evidence for this. The actual mileage from Bitterne to Winchester is about 10 Roman miles, but to Chichester is more like 30, rather than the 20 Roman miles mentioned in the Iter. A site which more readily agrees with the Iter mileages is the suggested settlement at Wickham (see SU 51 SE 18) lying just 20 Roman miles from Chichester but 14 1/4 from Winchester. (11)

The fort at Bitterne can be tentatively accepted as a Saxon Shore fort. It is very like one in situation and style of building although its plan has been dictated by its topographical situation. The fort is omitted from the Notitia Dignitatum (c400) which lists Portchester but this may signify no more than the absence of a garrison or that it was not, then, under the command of the Count of the Saxon Shore. It certainly superseded Portchester, its wall being built about 367, but this may have been due to eustatic changes in sea level from the 3rd century which may have made Portchester useless. The Saxon burgh recorded in the Burghal Hidage of about 920 AD probably utilized the defences of the Roman fort at Bitterne which were not taken down until Elizabethan times. The stated number of hides, 150, gives an estimate of the length of the defences which is within a few feet of the known length of the Roman wall. (12-15)

Roman Remains Bitterne (Clausentum) Roman station Monument 143. (16)

A Roman altar to Ancasta (a), a bronze Hercules with Celtic hair-style and a pipe-clay Venus, all from Clausentum, and an ithyphallic lead figurine probably from Clausentum, are in Southampton Museum (which one is not stated). (17)

Two Roman milestones, Nos, 2222 and 2223 (a), apparently lost since 1805, have been rediscovered built into a wall in a Bitterne garden. (exact site not mentioned). (18)

SU 433321332. A gravel surface and possible wall footings were uncovered at 28 Hawkeswood Road. Pottery ranged from the early 2nd century to the 4th century. A mid-3rd century coin was also found. (19)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1:1250 1962?
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Source Number : 2
Source : Excavations at Clausentum, Southampton, 1951-1954
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : no.2
Source Number : 12
Source : The Saxon Shore
Source details :
Page(s) : 1, 3, 6
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 18
Source Number : 13
Source : Roman Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 59
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 14
Source : The archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England
Source details :
Page(s) : 127
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 15
Source : Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society
Source details : (D Hill)
Page(s) : 59
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 24, 1967
Source Number : 16
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : DOE (IAM) List of Ancient Monuments 2 South England 1978
Page(s) : 101
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 17
Source : A corpus of religious material from the civilian areas of Roman Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 193
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 24
Source Number : 17a
Source : The Roman inscriptions of Britain, 1. Inscriptions on stone
Source details :
Page(s) : 28
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 18
Source : South Hampshire Archaeological Rescue Group newsletter
Source details : (D Johnston)
Page(s) : Dec-13
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 20, 1977
Source Number : 18a
Source : The Roman inscriptions of Britain, 1. Inscriptions on stone
Source details :
Page(s) : 692-3
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 18b
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : A walk through Southampton 1801 pp124-5 (Englefield)
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 ASP 03-OCT-1969
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 19
Source : Archaeology in Hampshire, annual report
Source details : (D F Devereux)
Page(s) : 15
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1979
Source Number : 20
Source : The Roman forts of the Saxon Shore
Source details :
Page(s) : 141-2
Figs. : 77
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number :
Source : SU 43 SW 1 and 3 (SU 4313) (1969)
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : The archaeology of Roman Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 52
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Britannia : a history of Roman Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 356
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : The Regni
Source details :
Page(s) : 127
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : The Antiquaries journal : journal of the Society of Antiquaries of London
Source details : 'Excavations at Clausentum 1937-8' (D M Waterman)
Page(s) : 152-71
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 27, 1947
Source Number : 9
Source : Fifth report on the excavations of the Roman fort at Richborough, Kent
Source details :
Page(s) : 269-70
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : no.23
Source Number : 10
Source : The Roman inscriptions of Britain, 1. Inscriptions on stone
Source details :
Page(s) : 692-4
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : The place-names of Roman Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 166-7,308
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Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Later C4
Monument End Date : 399
Monument Start Date : 350
Monument Type : Bath House, Saxon Shore Fort, Town, Town Defences, Milestone, Altar
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit, Conjectural Evidence
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : From 70AD
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date : 70
Monument Type : Settlement, Bath House
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit, Find
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Saxon
Monument End Date : 1066
Monument Start Date : 450
Monument Type : Burh
Evidence : Documentary Evidence

Components and Objects:
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Bath House, Saxon Shore Fort, Town, Town Defences, Milestone, Altar
Object Type : FIGURINE
Object Material : Bronze
Period : Roman
Component Monument Type : Settlement, Bath House
Object Type : INGOT
Object Material : Lead

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : HA 143
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Roman Inscriptions of Britain (RIB)
External Cross Reference Number : 2222
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Roman Inscriptions of Britain (RIB)
External Cross Reference Number : 2223
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Unified Designation System UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1005538
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SU 41 SW 1
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : CLAUSENTUM
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1700-01-01
End Date : 1799-12-31
Associated Activities : BITTERNE MANOR, CLAUSENTUM
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1935-01-01
End Date : 1935-12-31
Associated Activities : BITTERNE MANOR, CLAUSENTUM
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1936-01-01
End Date : 1936-12-31
Associated Activities : BITTERNE MANOR, CLAUSENTUM
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1937-01-01
End Date : 1938-12-31
Associated Activities : CLAUSENTUM
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1939-01-01
End Date : 1939-12-31
Associated Activities : BITTERNE MANOR, CLAUSENTUM
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1946-01-01
End Date : 1946-12-31
Associated Activities : BITTERNE MANOR, CLAUSENTUM
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1951-01-01
End Date : 1951-12-31
Associated Activities : CLAUSENTUM
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1954-01-01
End Date : 1954-12-31
Associated Activities : BITTERNE PUMPING STATION, RAMPART ROAD, CLAUSENTUM (SOU 206)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1958-01-01
End Date : 1958-12-31
Associated Activities : FIELD OBSERVATION ON SU 41 SW 1
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1969-10-03
End Date : 1969-10-03
Associated Activities : QUAYSIDE ROAD, BITTERNE MANOR (SOU 333)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1988-01-01
End Date : 1988-12-31
Associated Activities : 25 VESPASIAN ROAD
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1988-01-01
End Date : 1988-12-31
Associated Activities : HAWKESWOOD ROAD (SOU 414)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1989-01-01
End Date : 1990-12-31
Associated Activities : BITTERNE MANOR OLD SCHOOL (SOU 456)
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1991-01-01
End Date : 1991-12-31
Associated Activities : OLD BITTERNE MANOR SCHOOL
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1992-01-01
End Date : 1992-12-31
Associated Activities : BITTERNE MANOR SEWER TRENCH (SOU 541)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1993-12-31
Associated Activities : HAWKESWOOD ROAD LIGHTING (SOU 629)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : 37 RAMPART ROAD (LAND ADJACENT) (SOU 658)
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1994-12-31
Associated Activities : 37 RAMPART ROAD, BITTERNE MANOR (SOU 707)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1995-01-01
End Date : 1995-12-31
Associated Activities : BITTERNE ROAD GAS MAIN (SOU 733)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1995-01-01
End Date : 1995-12-31
Associated Activities : 16 BITTERNE ROAD
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1995-01-01
End Date : 1995-12-31
Associated Activities : BURSLEDON ROAD ELECTRICITY TRENCH (SOU 722)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1995-01-01
End Date : 1995-12-31
Associated Activities : H A FOX, HAWKESWOOD ROAD
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1996-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31
Associated Activities : BITTERNE MANOR FIRST AND MIDDLE SCHOOL, STUART ROAD/QUAYSIDE ROAD (SOU 755 & 765)
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1996-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31
Associated Activities : VESPASIAN COURT, VESPASIAN ROAD, BITTERNE MANOR
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1996-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31
Associated Activities : 108 BITTERNE ROAD (SOU 830)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : CLAUSENTUM QUAY, HAWKESWOOD ROAD
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1998-01-01
End Date : 1998-12-31
Associated Activities : HAWKESWOOD ROAD PARTS CENTRE (SOU 857)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1998-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : 32 HAWKESWOOD ROAD (SOU 911)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1998-01-01
End Date : 1998-12-31
Associated Activities : RIVER ITCHEN (SOU 881)
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1998-01-01
End Date : 1998-12-31
Associated Activities : FORMER BITTERNE MANOR SCHOOL, STEUART ROAD/QUAYSIDE ROAD (SOU 897)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1998-01-01
End Date : 1998-12-31
Associated Activities : VESPASIAN COURT, VESPASIAN ROAD
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1998-01-01
End Date : 1998-12-31
Associated Activities : 'TOMMY HOLDEN'S SCRAPYARD', QUAYSIDE ROAD
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1999-01-01
End Date : 1999-12-31
Associated Activities : NORTHAM TO BITTERNE GAS TRENCH
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2000-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : 3 QUAYSIDE ROAD, BITTERNE MANOR
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2000-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : 10 RAMPART ROAD/36 VESPASIAN ROAD, BITTERNE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2000-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : NORTHAM GASWORKS-BITTERNE MANOR-PEARTREE AVENUE (SOU 1042)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2000-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : 17 NORTH WALLS
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 2001-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31
Associated Activities : BITTERNE ROAD, BITTERNE MANOR
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2001-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT 42 BITTERNE ROAD
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31
Associated Activities : QUAYSIDE ROAD, BITTERNE MANOR
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31
Associated Activities : 71 BITTERNE ROAD WEST
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31
Associated Activities : 73 BITTERNE ROAD WEST
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31
Associated Activities : 38 BITTERNE ROAD WEST
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2007-01-01
End Date : 2007-12-31
Associated Activities : FORMER BRIDGE INN, 109 PRIORY ROAD, ST. DENYS
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2012-01-01
End Date : 2012-12-31