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Historic England Research Records

Cawthorn C

Hob Uid: 917059
Location :
North Yorkshire
Ryedale
Cropton
Grid Ref : SE7830090000
Summary : Earthwork remains of a Roman temporary camp of irregular plan and probably dating to the late 1st and early 2nd century AD. It forms part of a group of four earthworks known collectively as 'Cawthorn Camps' comprising two forts, one with a later annexe, and a camp. Camp C is of unusual coffin-shaped design; it has three gates, with external clavicula entrances, located on its eastern side. The origin of a gap in the defences on its north-western side is uncertain. On its western side, the defences of the camp have been partially cut by the outer ditch of Fort D (SE 79 SE 67). Within the camp, there are numerous embanked features. These include a band of sub-rectangular enclosures located up the central spine of the camp. The best preserved of these is recorded separately in SE 79 SE 57. These enclosures bear some resemblance to a group of structures located in the south-western quadrant of Annexe B (SE 79 SE 65). Excavation of one of the structures in Annexe B in 2000 produced evidence of a multi-phased building and an archaeo-magetic date of late 1st and early 2nd century date. However, none of the internal features in Camp C have yet been excavated. There is also evidence for possible post-Roman activity in the Camp including a group of embanked pits located in its north-western 'shoulder' , and a number of pits associated in or close to its outer defensive ditch.
More information : This camp has been re-assessed in connection with RCHME's survey and publication of Roman Camps in England. The following descriptive account is taken from the published text. SE 7830 9000 (FCE). Previously recorded with SE 79 SE 45; now assigned unique identity.
The earthworks consist of four major elements. A camp, C, of unusual polygonal design, is partly overlain by a slightly later fort, D, which is probably datable to the late 1st century (NAR SE 79 SE 45; Jones 1975, 140-1 (1a)). To the E of the camp are two structures which have often been classified as camps; on balance, however, the more westerly of the two is best regarded as a fort, A, which was subsequently provided with an annexe on its E side, thus forming a much larger defended area, B.
The earthworks were excavated between 1923 and 1929 (Simpson 1926 (1b)); Richmond 1926 (1c); 1929 (1d); 1932 (1e)). The identifying letters A-D usually ascribed to the earthworks are retained here, but most of the highly speculative functions and relationships put forward by Richmond have now been discarded. Certainly there seems to be no overriding reason to consider the sites as practice works. The few finds suggested that occupation may not have continued later than c AD 120.
The position chosen for the unusual camp C is almost level, sloping only very gently to the E and S. There is no evident topographical reason for its odd, coffin shaped plan, which was probably determined by earlier phases of activity in the immediate vicinity which have not survived as earthworks.
The whole camp is very well preserved: internally it measures 260 m from N to S by a maximum of 95 m transversely, and encloses an area of 2.1 ha (5.2 acres). The defences consist of a bank which stands 0.8 m high internally and up to 1.2 m high above the bottom of a slightly ragged external ditch up to 0.8 m deep. The depth of the ditch is emphasised by the unusual provision of a broad, low counter-scarp bank, about 3 m across and 0.3 m high. Richmond's excavations (1932, 40-2 (see auth 1e) revealed that the inner bank was made of turf; there was no berm between the bank and the ditch which was found to be about 1 m deep and which apparently had a narrow basal channel. The loose material upcast from the ditch formed thecounterscarp bank.
On the short side that faces NE the defences are now fragmentry; short lengths of the inner bank survive but the ditch has been almost entirely levelled. The whole of this area seems to have been affected by quarrying. From his excavations, Richmond (1932, 40(see auth 1d)) suggested that the ditch incorporated in its line the three pits, which he considered to be earlier in date, visible between the N and central gates on the E side of the camp. Throughout the rest of the perimeter the banks are relatively featureless, although just to the S of the southernmost of the three gates on the E side of the camp the foot of the inner side of the turf bank extends 1.5 m westward from its normal line. It is conceivable that this is an ascensus, although such a provision would hardly have been necessary.
Each of the three gates, regularly spaced along the E side, is defended by an external clavicula; the dimensions of the bank are unchanged around the arc of the clavicula, although the ditch is now nowhere more than 0.3 m deep. In each case the gap in the line of the turf bank is about 8.5 m wide; this is further restricted to about 5 m by the clavicula itself, which is an arc of more than 45 degrees. The N gate is at the point where the defences are realigned sharply to the NW. It is possible that the gaps at the NW and SW angles also served as entrances, although there is no direct evidence for this. The interior of the camp was not investigated by Richmond, although he noted (1932, 40 (see auth 1e) that it contained pits and turf-built structures; these may be contemporary with the defences, although this has not been demonstrated. Most of the structures in the interior are subrectangular and are formed of banks no more than about 0.3 m high; apparently open-ended, some measure up to 6 m across internally. These structures are visible only in a band up the centre of the camp and towards the NW angle. The interior is crossed by what appears to be a packhorse track, said to be the medieval Portergate; 3 m wide at the top but only 1 m wide at the base, it is cut down to a depth of 0.8 m.
Richmond's excavation (1932,49(see auth 1e)) showed that the fort, D, immediately to the W, was constructed later than camp C, the SE angle of the former overlying the defences of the latter. This is surprising, for the fort occupies the better position, on a slight knoll on the crest of the escarpment. That being so, unless the visible earthworks of fort D had some form of predecessor in the same general position, thus restricting the choice of site available to the builders of camp C, it is unclear why the site of the camp was chosen at all. The postulated existence of a predecessor to the fort would go some way to explain why the NW angle of the camp is cut off in such an unusual way. Further, the dead ground to the N of the lip of the escarpment begins only 30 m from the N defences of camp C, an exceptional arrangement, whether or not the camp had serious defensive intent. The construction of fort D would not seriously have undermined the effectiveness of the defences of camp C, and thus its continuing occupation. The agger of a lightly metalled road (Richmond 1932, 21, 51 (see auth 1e)), linking forts D and A, curves round the N side of camp C; if this road is of Roman date it may suggest that the camp remained in use at the same time as the forts were occupied. If fort and camp were contemporary in use, at least in part, the gap in the defences at the NW angle would have provided ready access to the camp. Further excavation is required to resolve these questions. Full information is included in the NMR Archive. (1)

Published reference. (2)

Additional reference. (3)

An air photographic evaluation (4-5) was undertaken by the EH Aerial Survey section, in conjunction with the Metric Survey section, as part of a wider research project investigating Cawthorn Camps from 1998-2002. In addition to the air photographic work, this research has included geophysical survey, topographic survey of Fort A and Annexe B, and two seasons of excavation. (6-7)

Photogrammetric survey using specially commissioned, large scale air photographs has enabled the production of a detailed plan of the earthwork remains at a scale of 1:500 and an accuracy of 10cm or below. Rectification of this plan with other photographs for the site has enabled further interpretation of the earthworks. In particular, use of photographs taken in 1925 of the excavations undertaken by Simpson, Kirk and Richmond in the 1920s (see sources 1b and 1e), has enabled the positive identification of many extant earthworks on site as remains of the 1920s trenches and spoil heaps. These excavations were particularly extensive in Fort A and Annexe B, but also occurred in Fort D and Camp C. Similarly, features attributable to World War II activity have been identified from photographs dating to 1945 and 1946. New earthwork features, some as little as 10cm in height, have been recorded in the interior of the forts, camp and annexe. Within the camp, there are numerous embanked features. These include a band of sub-rectangular enclosures located up the central spine of the camp. The best preserved of these is recorded separately in SE 79 SE 57. These enclosures bear some resemblance to a group of structures located in the south-western quadrant of Annexe B (SE 79 SE 65). There is also evidence for possible post-Roman activity in the Camp including a group of embanked pits located in its north-western 'shoulder' , and a number of pits associated in or close to its outer defensive ditch. (5)

However, the date of most of the earthworks located in the interiors of the forts, camp and annexe is yet to be proven. Richmond (source 1e) considered them to be Roman in date, military in nature and contemporary with the main defensive earthworks. More recent research (8-9) has proposed a post-Roman date for some of the features, in particular, the system of streets and enclosures in the south-east of Annexe B, also certain of the pits excavated by Richmond which he termed as 'officers' dugouts'; these latter features are now considered to represent possible sunken featured buildings of early medieval date.

The excavations undertaken in 1999-2000 by Dr P.Wilson (EH) comprised ten trenches one of which was located where the defences of Fort D overlap those of Camp C. This investigation revealed a two-phase construction for the rampart of Fort D, with the outer ditch, which cuts the defences of Camp C, probably belonging to the second phase. It is suggested that phase 1of Fort D pre-dated and possibly overlapped with the construction of Camp C. If an overlap of use did occur, this could partly explain the odd plan of the camp at its north-western extent which would have allowed for continued access to the east gate of fort D. One other trench located on the east rampart of Fort A included the re-excavation of one of Richmond's 'dugouts', which is now proven to be a probable early medieval sunken featured building as suspected. The group of embanked pits in Camp C, mentioned above, require further investigation in the light of the presence of SFBs on site. Three trenches investigated internal turf structures in Fort A and Annexe B which appear to be, in all probability, Roman in date; two of the three trenches produced finds of Roman date (pottery and melon beads), the third structure produced an archaeo-magnetic date of late 1st and early 2nd century AD. This structure is part of a group of structures in the south-western quadrant of Annexe B which bear a resemblance to the structures located up the central spine of Camp C. However, as yet, there has been no excavation investigating any of the structures within the interior of Camp C. (10-11)


Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Humphrey Welfare and Vivien Swan/1994/RCHME: Roman Camps in England Project.
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Source Number : 1a
Source : Roman fort-defences to A.D. 117, with special reference to Britain
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Vol(s) : 21
Source Number : 6
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Wilson, P. and Lee, G. 1999. 'Cawthorn Camps, North Yorkshire. Project Design for Trial Escavations'
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Source Number : 7
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Wilson, P. and Lee, G. 2000. 'Cawthorn Camps, North Yorkshire. Assessment and Revised Project Design'
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Source Number : 8
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details : Lee, G. 1997. 'Cawthorn Roman Military Complex'
Page(s) : 260-7
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Vol(s) : 54
Source Number : 9
Source : Annexe B, Cawthorn Camps, Pickering, North Yorkshire : earthwork survey, interim report
Source details :
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Source Number : 10
Source : Ryedale historian
Source details : Wilson, P. and Lee, G. 2000-1. 'Cawthorn Camps; Trial Excavations 1999'
Page(s) : 05-Aug
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Plates :
Vol(s) : 20
Source Number : 11
Source : Ryedale historian
Source details : Wilson, P. and Lee, G. 2002-4. 'Cawthorn Camps 2000 - Interim Report'
Page(s) : 30-Mar
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Vol(s) : 21
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Source : Cawthorn, 1992, added detail/pencil survey
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Source : Cawthorn/contour survey
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Source : Cawthorn, 1975-77/ink survey
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Source : Cawthorn Camps, North Yorkshire: Air Photograph Evaluation
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Source Number : 1b
Source : The Yorkshire archaeological journal
Source details : Simpson F G `The Roman Camps at Cawthorn, near Pickering
Page(s) : 25-33
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Vol(s) : 28, 1925-6
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Source : Cawthorn, Camp C/profiles
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Source : Cawthorn, 1992, additional detail within Camp C/ink survey
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Source : Cawthorn, 1975-77/pencil survey
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Source : Cawthorn/profiles key
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Source Number : 1c
Source : The Yorkshire archaeological journal
Source details : Richmond I A `The Roman camps at Cawthorn, near Pickering'
Page(s) : 332-9, 421-6
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Vol(s) : 28, 1925-6
Source Number : 1d
Source : The Yorkshire archaeological journal
Source details : Richmond I A `The Roman camps at Cawthorn, near Pickering'
Page(s) : 90-6, 225-31, 327-31
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Vol(s) : 29, 1927-9
Source Number : 1e
Source : The Archaeological Journal
Source details : Richmond I A `The four Roman camps at Cawthorn, in the North Riding of Yorkshire'
Page(s) : 17-78
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Vol(s) : 89, 1932
Source Number : 2
Source : Roman camps in England : the field archaeology
Source details :
Page(s) : 137-42
Figs. : 9, 115-8
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Source Number : 3
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 08-Feb-94
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Source Number : 4
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Stone, J. 1999. 'Cawthorn Camps, North Yorkshire. Air Photograph Evaluation' (Phase I)
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Source Number : 5
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Stone, J. 2002 'Cawthorn Camps, North Yorkshire. Air Photograph Evaluation' (Phase II)
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Roman
Monument End Date : 410
Monument Start Date : 43
Monument Type : Temporary Camp, Building
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : NY 518
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 24436
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SE 79 SE 66
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: CAWTHORN ROMAN CAMP, FORTS AND ANNEXE
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1975-01-01
End Date : 1992-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: CAWTHORN CAMPS AIR PHOTOGRAPH EVALUATION, PHASE I
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 1999-08-01
End Date : 1999-11-01
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: CAWTHORN CAMPS AIR PHOTOGRAPH EVALUATION, PHASE II
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2000-01-01
End Date : 2002-12-31