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Historic England Research Records

Monument Number 45517

Hob Uid: 45517
Location :
North Yorkshire
Long Preston
Grid Ref : SD8388058020
Summary : Excavations in 1924 uncovered an Iron Age enclosed settlement or possibly a Roman fort/temporary camp. However this site has now been descheduled and later excavations in 1993 have found no evidence for Roman military activity.
More information : [SD 8388 5802] Roman Forts. [GS] (Site of) (1)

Two earthworks were discovered by Villy just north of the Beck at Long Preston, after the discovery of Queen Street (RR 722 ) had 'made it advisable to search for a military post between Ilkley and Overborough'. The works (see plan) comprised only ditches, except on the west side of the larger one where there was also a low broad bank. Surface indications were slight. Only enough work was done to 'outline the fortifications with approximate accuracy and to prove their Roman origin'. The proof amounted to:-
a. Recovery of the plan from the surface indications and by excavation.
b. The 'typical Roman' nature of the ditches of the larger work. These were double, except on the south side where a single ditch followed the edge /of of a steep slope to the beck; each element of the double ditches was about 10 ft across and 3 ft. deep; all of V section with a square gutter at the bottom. The ditches of the smaller work, which was only 'touched' by excavation, were apparently stronger - 11 ft. across and 3 ft. 9 ins. deep.
c. The discovery by excavation of a double entrance in the middle of the western side of the larger work, with rather small and irregularly placed post-holes.
d. Finds of several pieces of coarse pottery, too fragmentary for certain identification except in one case (a mortarium of c. 300 AD) and a piece of what appeared to be window-glass - all 'from the surface soil hereabouts'.
e. The proximity of the Roman Road (also discovered by Villy). The paucity of the finds, the irregularity of the plan and the slightness of the defences, were taken as meaning that the larger work had been 'an exceptionally strong temporary camp', but the smaller work was thought to have been possibly a regular fort which if excavated might produce considerable finds. (2)

No surveyable outline of these forts survives, as existing features, which roughly accord with Villy's slight surface indications', can, in the main, be dismissed. See sketch-plan. The site as a whole is good, both topographically and strategically, but certain ambiguities exist.
1. Villy's excavation findings cannot be deemed conclusive as much of his Roman work is suspect. (This is confirmed by Dr. A. Raistrick, and is illustrated by the dubious Conistone camp [SD 96 NE 22] which bears some resemblance to the situation at Long Preston).
2. Villy's original typescript and photographs (a) are less conclusive than the published account suggests as the following points illustrate.
(a) The gateway was dug 'in thin mud between thunder showers' (typescript).
(b) The square gutter to the ditches was every where identified from 'indications', whilst the filling 'closely resembled the natural sub-soil' and 'there was often great difficulty in exactly defining the limits of the fosses at their lower parts'. (typescript)
c) The lack of finds, or substantiating evidence for RR722 also seem obvious weaknesses.
Villy's interpretation, therefore, appears to be questionable unless supported by further excavation.
Large scale specially flown APs inspected; no indications of the Roman Fort were found. (3)

"I think we must accept that Villy did excavate a ditch and that with I A Richmond's confirmatory evidence, he did find a timber gateway. But his plan must be suspect and the question whether he found part of a Roman military site rather than an Iron Age or native homestead, left open. There were no finds. The safest course is to omit from the new RB map". (4)

Site of Roman forts near St Mary's Church, descheduled. (5)

Excavations uncovered no evidence for Roman military activity. (6)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 6" 1955
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : The Yorkshire archaeological journal
Source details : (F. Villy)
Page(s) : 410-2
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 27, 1924
Source Number : 3
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 ECW 11-MAR-64
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3a
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Typescript and Photos. A note on the Roman Forts at Long Preston (F. Villy) (Possession of Yorkshire Archaeol Soc)
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : Oral information, correspondence (not archived) or staff comments
Source details : Letter (HG Ramm RCHM 13.2.75)
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 15.2.95
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Gazetteer of archaeological investigations in England, 1993
Source details :
Page(s) : 333
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 4

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Iron Age
Display Date : Iron Age
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -800
Monument Type : Enclosed Settlement
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Roman
Monument End Date : 410
Monument Start Date : 43
Monument Type : Fort
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 : NY 697
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SD 85 NW 4
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, LONG PRESTON FORT
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1924-01-01
End Date : 1924-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SD 85 NW 4
Start Date : 1964-04-10
End Date : 1964-04-10
Associated Activities : Primary, ST MARY'S CHURCH
Start Date : 1992-01-01
End Date : 1992-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ST MARY'S CHURCHYARD, LONG PRESTON
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1993-12-31