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Historic England Research Records

Rhyn Park Roman Fortress

Hob Uid: 66831
Location :
Shropshire
St. Martin's
Grid Ref : SJ3050036900
Summary : A large Roman 1st century military site, including a legionary or vexillation fortress, and a smaller temporary camp/fort surviving as a cropmark
More information : SJ 305370. A Roman "campaign base" of 48 acres, overlying
an earlier temporary camp or fort, has been identified by Prof G D B
Jones at Rhyn Park situated on a flat plateau overlooking the River
Ceiriog. (1)

The main camp measures circa 515 m by 360/410 m over the double
ditches, there being a third ditch on the weak southern side. The
four entrances are marked by tituli. The size of the site compares
closely with that of a legionary fortress.
The smaller enclosure occupies approximately 14.5 acres, the only
clearly defined entrance taking the form of two offset ditches. (2)

The smaller fort may have been constructed during Ostorius Scapula's
campaign in AD 48. The larger fortress which superseded it probably
dates from the campaign of Suetonius Paulinus against the Deceangli
in AD 60. This fortress is not served by any surviving part of the
Roman road system and may have been superseded by the later legionary
base at Chester.

Of the smaller fort, the whole of the west side is visible, together
with 200 m of the north side and 245 m of the south side. Nothing is
visible of the east side. The two ditches are widely spaced (about
30 m), with an entrance in the centre of the west side.

All four sides of the larger fortress are visible with the exception
of the north-west corner which has been eroded by the river Ceiriog.
The two ditches are 7 to 8 m apart and a section of the outer ditch,
exposed in a drainage trench in September 1975, showed it to be 2.5 m
wide and at least 1 m deep. The inner ditch was only small and may
have been a trench for palisading or a seating for timbers forming
part of a rampart. (3)

Trial excavations of the defences of the large fort and its eastern
gateway in August 1977 revealed a series of ovens near the east
gateway and the plan of the gateway itself. No clear dating evidence
came to light and the site could have been used for and of the
campaigns of AD 48, AD 60 of AD 77 & 78. (4)

Excavations began along the east side of the 17.5ha fortress and on
the later 5.9ha fort where the two intersect. The defences of the
larger fortress appeared to be of unusual type and may have
incorporated the defences of an earlier marching camp. The defences
of the smaller fort were of two phases: a rampart and two ditches
followed by an extension of the rampart over the inner ditch and the
digging of a new double ditch. From the whole site a little mid-first
century pottery was recovered. (5)

Brief description - no further information. (6)

The site occupies undulating farmland upon a terrace, above the
confluence, to the north east of the River Ceiriog and Morlas Brook.
To the south of the site, the ground rises gently.
Nothing was found on the ground to account for the cropmarkings seen
on air photographs.

The trapezoidal form of the larger fortress appears to have been
dictated by the topography, the eastern and western sides following
relatively high ground either side of a central depression. The
southern side lies along a gentle north facing slope. Rapid erosion
of the very steep, boulder clay slopes abovr the River Ceiriog, has
taken away the north west corner, and some 130m of the north side. A
narrow terrace along the head of these slopes, and about 1.5m below
the fields above, is probably a modern feature associated with
afforestation of the slopes below, some 30 years ago. (7)

Geophysical survey and excavation were carried out in 1978 on the 46
acre fortress. Survey confirmed the existence of titula outside the
main ditch and also the additional outer ditch on the south. Internal
and external ditches were located on the west side. The west rampart
still survives in places as a slight mound between these ditches.
Excavation continued around the east gate. Two ditches ran upto the
gate. The outer ended 15m from it apparently allowing for the
existence of the titulum ditch which was V-shaped and 17m long: the
titulum bank lay outside its ditch. Three ovens had been cut into the
outer lip of the titulum ditch after the disuse of these defences and
presumably before the construction of the 14 acre fort. The ovens
found on the east defences in 1977 were assigned to this intermediate
phase as were the more closely-spaced ovens located along the inner
edge of the outer ditch of 1977. The post-holes previously thought to
belong to the end of a timber building were shown to be the rear
revetment of a box rampart. Seventy metres to the west within the NE
part of the larger site a N-S line of ovens was found. Investigation
on the presumed line of the via principalis showed that any metalling
would have been ploughed out, but a gully was located on its presumed
north side. Another running at a slight angle was found to the North
and a third to the south of the street-alignment; a further oven
was found near the latter. Pottery from this area seemed to be similar to military wares from Wroxeter. The large site was still thought to be an aestiva (campaign base). (8)

The 'campaign base' at Rhyn has been described as a vexillation
fortress by Frere and St Joseph. (9)

Defensive outworks of Roman forts and fortresses. The ditch at Rhyn echoes the plan of the fort so accurately that it must have been laid out, even if not necessarily constructed, at the same time as the remainder of the fort. (10)

SJ 306370: Rhyn Park fortress; an aerial survey shows the promontory northeast of the fortress was excluded by a broad ditch running from scarp to scarp c.80m north of Rhyn Farm. (11)

SJ 307367 & SJ 304368. Roman military site at Rhyn Park. Scheduled. (12)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Off print - G D B Jones 22.10.76
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : AP's (RAF 106G/UK/1517 4393-4 17.5.46)
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 9
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Roman Britain from the Air 1983 pp51-4 photo 6 illust (S S Frere & J K St Joseph)
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Source Number : 10
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Britannia 15, 1984, 51-61 (D.R Wilson)
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 11
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Britannia 15, 1984, 291 (S.S Frere)
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Source Number : 12
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : English Heritage SAM List Salop March 1994 8
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 3
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Antiquity 51 201 March 1977 pp55-60 plans (J K St Joseph)
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Source Number : 4
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : CBA Group 8 NS 20 1977 pp45-52 illusts (G D B Jones)
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Source Number : 5
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Britannia 9 1978 p436
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 6
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Salop Sites & Mons SA 645 (I Burrow 4.11.76)
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Source Number : 6a
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Inf: J K St Joseph
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Source Number : 6b
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : APs (NMR SJ 3036/1-3 St Joseph undated)
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Source Number : 7
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 ASP 14-SEP-79
Page(s) :
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Source Number : 8
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Britannia 10 1979 pp296-7 (R Goodburn)
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Roman
Monument End Date : 410
Monument Start Date : 43
Monument Type : Fort, Vexillation Fort, Legionary Fortress, Temporary Camp
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit, Conjectural Evidence, Cropmark

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : SA 349
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Shropshire)
External Cross Reference Number : 645
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SJ 33 NW 3
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, RHYN PARK
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1977-01-01
End Date : 1978-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON SJ 33 NW 3
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1979-09-14
End Date : 1979-09-14
Associated Activities : Primary, RHYN PARK
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1984-01-01
End Date : 1984-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT RHYN PARK
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31