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Historic England Research Records

Metchley Roman Fort

Hob Uid: 329307
Location :
Birmingham
Non Civil Parish
Grid Ref : SP0428983629
Summary : The site of a Roman campaign fort excavated in 1934-6, 1954 and during the 1960s and 1990s. These investigations have identified four main phases of Roman activity on the site. The earliest fort was constructed circa AD 40 and was defended by double ditches and a rampart. Within these defences, the structures uncovered include a pair of barrack blocks, part of a granary and a workshop and store. The second phase involved the addition of ditched annexes on the northern and eastern sides of the fort and the clearance of the interior buildings, which were replaced by temporary timber framed structures. It is thought the fort served as a stores depot during this phase. Following a period of abandonment a smaller fort was constructed within the earlier defences. This fort was enclosed within a ditch and rampart and its interior buildings included a small granary and a cookhouse. The fort was abandoned again circa AD 75 but evidence suggests sporadic occupation continuing until about AD 120. Excavations undertaken between 1999-2001 have identifed a vicus to the west of the fort. The remains include timber framed buildings, hearths, ovens and trackways. Fieldwalking, test pits and excavation have also revealed three Bronze Age burnt mounds and road surfaces within the fort.
More information : [SP 04308365] Roman Forts [GSC] (Sites of) (1)

Two first century campaign forts excavated in 1934 & 1954. The
north-west corner of the larger fort (at SP 04138376) was
reconstructed and a timber turret erected in 1949.
The larger and earlier fort occupied c.14 1/2 acres and was
defended by a double ditch and bank. The smaller work, which lay
completely within the larger, enclosed c.6 1/4 acres and had a
single bank and ditch beneath which were found remains of timber
buildings belonging to the early fort.
Pottery evidence indicates that both forts belong to the earliest
years of the Roman occupation. the length of tenure is suggested
as being not much longer than a few seasons as the upper limit.
'A few weeks' might suffice for the amount of broken pottery
accumulated.

Dr. St.Joseph suggests that the large fort held a force of
perhaps half legionary strength - possibly taking part in the
northern advance c.AD 64-60. The smaller fort shows that the
site was again thought suitable for military occupation at a later
stage - possibly of double cohort strength. The general
uniformity of pottery suggests that it was not long subsequent,
perhaps at the most within 20 years. (2-3)

Published survey of reconstruction defences (1/1250, 1958)
revised.
It is impossible to detect any original engineering. The remains
are fenced for protection but vandalism is evidence. See
photograph. (4)

Excavations completed in 1969 established the following probable
chronological history of the fort:
1. The original fort on the site was 10 1/2 acres with a double
ditch and rampart. Large Claudian timber structures were
associated with this phase.

2. During the second phase the original fort was extended by the
addition of a 4 acre annexe to the north.

3. The final phase saw the abandonment and back-filling of the
earlier defences and the construction of a 6 1/4 acre fort inside
the Claudian fort in the late 1st century. The fort was bounded
by a single ditch and rampart. Smaller regular buildings belonged
to this period.

Final conclusions can be summarised as follows:

1. There were three major phases to the defences and at least
three separate phases of interior timber buildings; occupation
appears to extend from the mid-40's AD to circa 120-130 AD.

2. The timber buildings at Metchley do not conform to the normal
pattern found on this type of site, possibly because of the
extremely marshy nature of the ground and possibly because troops
of a mixed nature were garrisoned here.

3. The continued Roman military presence at Metchley and at other
Midland forts now indicates a protracted and unsettled period of
occupation in the Midlands.

4. There was no occupation on the site before the Roman
occupation or later. (5)

The site is largely developed with hospital buildings and
associated roads and a roundabout, and a railway line and canal
cut across the south east quadrant.

The reconstructed defences, in the north west quadrant which is
largely wasteland awaiting development, have been reduced in
area by the construction of a new hospital block, and by a
footpath to it.

MSD (1:1250 scale) correct. (6)

Noted as having been short-lived in its stategic importance, and as a site where no certain civil settlement has been located. (7)

Note on excavation. A trench dug at right-angles to the defences (SP 943 836) located a road running N-S and cut by wheel-ruts; a series of post holes cut into the gravel suggests encroachment by timber-framed buildings, but no dating evidence was found. (8)

Fieldwalking, test pits and excavation (1988) revealed three burnt mounds and road surfaces within the Roman fort. (9)

The site of a Roman campaign fort excavated in 1934-6, 1954 and during the 1960s and 1990s. These investigations have identified four main phases of Roman activity on the site. The earliest fort was constructed circa AD 40 and was defended by double ditches and a rampart. Within these defences, the structures uncovered include a pair of barrack blocks, part of a granary and a workshop and store. The second phase involved the addition of ditched annexes on the northern and eastern sides of the fort and the clearance of the interior buildings, which were replaced by temporary timber framed structures. It is thought the fort served as a stores depot during this phase. Following a period of abandonment a smaller fort was constructed within the earlier defences. This fort was enclosed within a ditch and rampart and its interior buildings included a small granary and a cookhouse. The fort was abandoned again circa AD 75 but evidence suggests sporadic occupation continuing until about AD 120. Excavations undertaken between 1999-2001 have identifed a vicus to the west of the fort. The remains include timber framed buildings, hearths, ovens and trackways. Fieldwalking, test pits and excavation have also revealed three Bronze Age burnt mounds and road surfaces within the fort. Scheduled . (10)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1:1250 1958
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : Birmingham and Midland Institute, Birmingham Archaeological Society transactions, excursions and reports
Source details :
Page(s) : 68-83
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 58, 1934
Source Number : 3
Source : Birmingham and Midland Institute, Birmingham Archaeological Society transactions, excursions and reports
Source details : (G.Webster)
Page(s) : 01-Apr
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 72, 1955
Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 FDC 11-JUL-67
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Council for British Archaeology Group 8: West Midlands newsletter
Source details : (T Rowley)
Page(s) : 24-May
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 12, 1969
Source Number : 6
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F2 ASP 16-JUN-76
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 7
Source : Romano-British urban settlements in the West Midlands
Source details :
Page(s) : 38
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 127, 1984
Source Number : 8
Source : Britannia : a journal of Romano-British and kindred studies
Source details : (SS Frere)
Page(s) : 288
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 20, 1989
Source Number : 9
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Excavation Index
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : EH Scheduling amendment, 10-MAR-2003
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Bronze Age
Display Date : Bronze Age
Monument End Date :
Monument Start Date :
Monument Type : Burnt Mound
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : c AD40
Monument End Date : 50
Monument Start Date : 43
Monument Type : Ditch, Fort, Rampart, Barracks, Granary, Workshop, Storehouse
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Roman - until AD 120
Monument End Date : 120
Monument Start Date : 43
Monument Type : Fort, Vicus, Timber Framed Building, Storehouse, Stable, Stablehands Lodgings, Granary, Cookhouse, Hearth, Oven, Trackway
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : WM 1
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (West Midlands)
External Cross Reference Number : 2005
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (West Midlands)
External Cross Reference Number : 2005
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 35120
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SP 08 SW 4
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, METCHLEY ROMAN FORTS, EDGBASTON
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1934-01-01
End Date : 1934-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, METCHLEY ROMAN FORTS, EDGBASTON
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1954-01-01
End Date : 1954-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, METCHLEY ROMAN FORTS, EDGBASTON
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1963-01-01
End Date : 1964-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, METCHLEY ROMAN FORTS, EDGBASTON
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1964-01-01
End Date : 1964-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, METCHLEY ROMAN FORTS, EDGBASTON
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1967-01-01
End Date : 1969-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SP 08 SW 4
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1967-07-11
End Date : 1967-07-11
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SP 08 SW 4
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1976-06-16
End Date : 1976-06-16
Associated Activities : Primary, METCHLEY, (BURNT MOUNDS)
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1988-01-01
End Date : 1988-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, METCHLEY ROMAN FORT
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1994-01-01
End Date : 1995-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, WEST CAR PARK, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM (METCHLEY ROMAN FORT)
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1996-01-01
End Date : 1996-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, WEST CAR PARK, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM (METCHLEY ROMAN FORTS)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, GENETICS FIELD, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM (METCHLEY ROMAN FORT)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1998-01-01
End Date : 1999-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, GENETICS FIELD, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM (METCHLEY ROMAN FORT)
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1998-01-01
End Date : 1999-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL (AREAS A, B & C)
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1999-01-01
End Date : 1999-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, METCHLEY ROMAN FORTS, THE UNIVERSITY
Activity type : DESK BASED ASSESSMENT
Start Date : 1999-01-01
End Date : 1999-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL, METCHLEY
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2000-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, VINCENT DRIVE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2001-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BIOPROCESS CENTRE & FORMULATION ENGINEERING, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM, METCHLEY
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, METCHLEY ROMAN FORTS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2003-01-01
End Date : 2003-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL, METCHLEY
Activity type : DESK BASED ASSESSMENT
Start Date : 2003-01-01
End Date : 2003-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, METCHLEY ROMAN FORT (WESTERN DEFENCES)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2004-01-01
End Date : 2004-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, METCHLEY ROMAN FORT (VICUS)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2004-01-01
End Date : 2004-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, METCHLEY ROMAN FORT
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2004-01-01
End Date : 2004-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, METCHLEY ROMAN FORTS (AREA 18)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2004-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, METCHLEY ROMAN FORT (AREA 20)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2005-01-01
End Date : 2005-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, HEALTH SERVICES RESEARCH CENTRE, METCHLEY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2008-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BOILER HOUSE DRIVE, METCHLEY
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2008-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, METCHLEY ROMAN FORTS
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL FOOTPATH
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, NEW HOSPITAL PLAZA, METCHLEY LANE, EDGBASTON
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2012-01-01
End Date : 2012-12-31