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Name:CROPMARKS & ROMAN OCCUPATION, north of Pegsdon Common
HER No.:1841
Type of Record:Monument


A complex agglomeration of irregular enclosures including a broad-ditched circular enclosure with central feature adjacent to the stream. The enclosures are thought to represent Iron Age, Roman and medieval field systems. Iron Age & Roman sherds, tile and quernstones have been found during fieldwalking. Metal detecting has found a late Iron Age mirror, two silver brooches and two groups of Roman coins, one hoard of 127 gold coins deposited c.80 AD, and a group of silver coins dating from the reign of Hadrian (117-138 AD). The gold coins have been interpreted as evidence of payment to a local client chief or king, and the mirror and brooches are thought to have come from a high-status burial.

Grid Reference:TL 125 312
Map:Show location on Streetmap

Full Description

<1> Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs (CUCAP), Cambridge AP: Index, AJI 13-15 (26/6/1964) (Aerial Photograph). SBD10593.

Cropmarks 1½ miles south of Shillington TL 125 313

<2> Helen Porter, Notes, Comments and Observations, December 1974 (Observations and Comments). SBD11071.

Probably held boundaries - one similar ring ditch? Many rectangular enclosures.

<3> Bedfordshire & Luton Archives and Records Service Documents, BLARS: L33/13/4, pre-enclosure map, 1777; MA43, Enclosure map, c.1816 (Unpublished document). SBD10551.

Area shown as part of Aspley End Common or Cow Common on pre-enclosure and enclosure maps.

<4> Rob White, Comments (Observations and Comments). SBD11101.

Mr Franklin informed that when they first ploughed the field (20 years ago?) it had not previously been ploughed. Various level differences and soil colours were exposed as well as at least 2 puddingstone rotary quernstones. One of these was probably removed to Walnut Tree Farm, Pirton but has since been lost. Field is still in arable use - slight level changes and soil colour differences being apparent. Little pot observed in plough surface during rapid traverse of field on 6/10/1978, 2 sherds of Samina ware being noted in the area of the circular cropmark in the eastern part of the field. Cf. SMR 9298 Stream straightened on enclosure to east of cropmark complex.

<5> Angela Simco, 1984, Survey of Bedfordshire: Roman Period, p. 117 (Bibliographic reference). SBD10650.

Two quernstones were found in the 1950s when a field was turned from pasture to arable, and some Samian pottery was collected from the surface in 1978. Enclosure cropmarks have also been recorded.

<6> Stephen R. Coleman, Comments, December 1997 (Observations and Comments). SBD10779.

Some information from Ren Hudspith with a letter of 3/13/97 reporting finds of late Iron Age and Roman sherds, stone and tile fragments covering large area. (Includes samian). See attached sketch map from independent fieldwalking.

<7> North Herts District Council Museum Service, Press releases, Feb 1999 (Unpublished document). SBD11464.

A hoard of 123 First century AD Roman Gold coins found by metal detectorists on farmland in south Bedfordshire. This is the largest hoard of first century Roman gold coins from Britain or anywhere else in the Roman Empire. The Bedfordshire hoard contained coins of the emporers Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and Vespasian, amongst others. Numerous design types are represented showing emperors and deities. Many of the coins are in near mint condition and much may be learnt from them.

<8> British Archaeology, No 48, Oct 1999, p. 5; Roman gold mixed with native religion (Article in serial). SBD11465.

The largest 1st century gold coin hoard in Britain, found recently by two metal detectorists in Bedfordshire, has shed new light on the continuation of Iron Age religious practices in early Roman Britain. The hoard of 123 gold coins, which received some publicity when it was acquired by Luton Museum last month, is one of only a handful of large early Imperial Roman hoards known anywhere in Europe. The coins, or aureii, were issued by the emperors Tiberius, Caludius, Bero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian, and represent a huge sum of money. Many are in mint condition. A smaller hoard of seven silver denarii, including Republican and early Imperial issues (the latest being one of Vespasian), was found nearby. Both hoards are thought to have been buried in the 80s AD.
According to Robin Holgate of Luton Museum, the hoards bear a striking resemblance to late Iron Age votive deposits of gold and silver items, such as those from Essenden in Hertfordshire, Snettisham in Norfolk and elsewhere. Metalwork hoards of this date are now typically interpreted as religious deposits - rather than 'burials for safekeeping' - and in this instance may indicate the site of an important Roman temple or cult site.
The findspot lies close to a spring and a prehistoric barrow, and scattered finds from surrounding fields include quantities of Roman pottery and tile, as well as the handle of a Roman knife, and a mortar for grinding cosmetics or incense. Rectilinear cropmarks in the field where the coins were found may suggest a temple precinct, although they remain undated.
The presence of the barrow is regarded as significant, following a number of recent discoveries of Roman (nad later) religious monuments (see BA, November 1997). Other sites where Iron Age votive practice appears to have continued in the Roman period include the cult site ar Essenden, the Romano-Celtic temple at Harlow in Essex, and at Bath.
The hoards were declared treasure by a coronor's court earlier this year and valued at £200,000. They will go on display at Luton Museum early next year.

<9> Angela Simco, Comments, April 2000 (Observations and Comments). SBD10509.

Cropmarks show a complex agglomeration of irregular enclosures, with a broad-ditched circular enclosure with central (?) pit adjacent to stream.

<10> DCMS, Treasure Annual Report, 1998-1999, pp. 109-111 (Article in serial). SBD11466.

<11> DCMS, Treasure Annual Report, 2000, pp. 15-16 (Article in serial). SBD11466.

Iron Age silver brooch, bronze mirror and pottery fragments. All these objects were found in close proximity and probably came from a disturbed grave. Cremation burials became a common way to bury the dead in parts of south-east England in the 1st century BC. Msot graves contain pottery vessels used for eating or drinking. The richer graves sometimes contain decorated bronze mirrors. Silver brooches are very rare finds from Iron Age Britain, and only about nine or ten others are known. They all appear to have come from burials and are very similar in shape to this brooch. Dated to the middle of the 1st century BC (the archaeological period known as La Tène D2), these safety-pin type brooches all have a decorative collar or boss in the middle of the bow, and are often called Knotenfibula. The Shillington brooch is very similar to the two pairs of silver brooches found at Great Chesterford, Essex.
The mirror is one of the finest exapmles of a decorated Iron Age bronze mirror found in recent years. It is constructed from three parts; the circular mirror plate, the handle and decorative ring on the bottom of the mirror plate near the handle. The back of the mirror was decorated with an abstract curving La Tène or 'Early Celtic' design. The design consists of repeated circular ovals and arches of similar sizes in-filled with a fine basket-weave of engraved or chased marks to make the design stand out. The front of the mirror would be plain and polished for seeing the reflection in. This mirror is well preserved, except for the major tear in the top made when it was found. Decorated Bronze mirrors are a uniquely British object. About thirty examples are known. Many are stray finds, but those found in archaeological investigations usually come from burials.
Decorated Bronze mirrors were made and used for at least 150 years from about 100 BC to AD 50. This is one of the earliest dating mirrors so far found.

<12> Albion Archaeology, 2003, Land north of Pegsdon Common Farm, Shillington; Aerial photograph analysis and fieldwalking, 2003/6, pp. 8-12 (Archaeological Report). SBD12624.

All aerial photographs of the Study Area were consulted. Those taken before the 1950s show the land to be under pasture, while those taken after 1956 show the land under arable cultivation. Of the photographs consulted, only those taken in the summer of 1964 show the cropmark complexes described below:
- possible barrows: two putative long barrows and two putative round barrows

- large, linear, landscape boundaries such as field, stock, trackway or settlement enclosures:
Complex A forms a series of three linear boundaries, running to the south from what appears to be a double ditched trackway, itself aligned on an east-west axis. These boundaries are bisected, halfway down their observed length, by an east-west running ditch. The central area, defined by these boundaries, is sub-divided into three linear strips, of approximately the same area, the central strip being slightly larger. These boundaries seem to show two superimposed field systems, possibly Roman fields, superimposed onto a less enclosed Iron Age landscape, though they may also represent medieval strip fields.
Complex B, to the north & northwest of Complex A, is characterised by the northern boundary o fthe possible trackway which bounds Complex A. The main landscape elements represented by Complex B appear to fall into two categories: Field systems associated with and a continuation of, the field system represented in Complex A, probably of Roman date; A sub-rectangular enclosure at the northern edge of this complex, which appears to overlie to round barrow to the east and is itself overlain, to the east, by a ditch representing a continuation of Complex A to the south. Given this speculative chronology, it is likely that this large enclosure is Iron Age (800BC - AD 43) in date and may form a low lying, possibly palisaded, enclosure.
Complex C, to the east of Complex B, is characterised by a series of discontinuous boundaries, which seem to form a series of enclosures to the west and east of a possible trackway heading from the north towards the long barrow. A rectangular ditched enclosure, also putatively described as a barrow, seems to overlie the southeastern extent of the long barrow. A further series of linear, rectangular enclosures lie to the west and appear to articulate the putative trackway, which enters this complex from the north. At the northwest extreme of Complex C, another track or droveway appears to lead up to the large enclosure of complex B from the south, the linear boundaries of which seem to respect this enclosure.
Complex D, to the north of Complex C, is bounded to the west by the southern terminus of the trackway present in Complex C and to the east by the modern line of the watercourse. As with Complex C, the eastern edge of Complex D comprises a series of discontinuous boundaries which are, nevertheless, more coherent than those immediately to the south. These discontinuous boundaries seem to both respect and form the eastern extent of the eastern trackway, which appears to diverge into two separate paths, one to the southwest and one to the southeast. A further, east-west aligned offshoot of the western trackway seems to define the southern extent of a large enclosure, which extends towards Complex E to the north. This complex would appear to represent two, broadly contemporary, enclosed fields divided by one or two phases of trackway. A further possible east-west aligned trackway appears to bound the most western of the enclosures to the south. The eastern enclosure appears to be partially subdivided. These enclosures may represent outfields, accessed by a trackway, to a settlement concentration to the north.
Complex E lies immediately to the north of Complex D and represents continuation of it. It is characterised to the northwest by the northern limit of a ditched enclosure. The latter is defined to the north by an east-west aligned trackway, which seems to be an extension of the trackway that divides the western enclosure in Complex D form the eastern enclosure. However, to the north of this western enclosure the trackway seems, at one time, to either have bene superimposed on, or blocked by, a further north-south aligned linear boundary. The large western enclosure is also subdivided by two east-west orientatted boundaries, which may represent sub-divisions corresponding with settlement enclosure. This enclosure is also bounded to the west by a north-south aligned linear boundary, which continues to the borth beyond the Studay Area in to Complex G.
To the east a further enclosure, which like the enclosure to the west is also subdivided by an east-west aligned boundary, seems to have been superimposed on anearlier, discontinuous, 'L'-shaped boundary. At the northeast corner of Complex E a wide and possibly deep cropmark is aligned NNW-SSE. This is related to an elliptical section of cropmark, which forms the northwest corner of an enclsoure, the northern extent of which appears to extend into the southeast corner of Complex G. At least two phases of enclosure are present in Complex E most visible in the articulation of the trackway, to the north of the area and the superimposition of the most eastern of the large enclosures onto possibly earluer, discontinuous enclosures.
Complex F lies immediately to ther west of Complex E and is separated from it by the northern extent of a possible trackway, described in Complexes B and D. This complex seems to be defined by three separate landscape elements: The large ditch contiguous with and part of the large re-cut enclosure described in Complex B; Broadly linear boundaries, which seem to curve from the west to the northeast; Linear boundaries aligned on a southwest - northeast axis, which articulate with a rectilinear enclosure clearly visible in the northwest corner of the complex. The multiphase nature of the site is attested, once again, by the cropmarks present in Complex F. The large, sub-rectangular enclosure, which overlay the round barrow seems to have been overlain by the rectilinear enclosures and associated cropmarks which may be contemporary with the rectilinear enclosures of Complexes A, D and E.
- possible structure enclosures, such as house or small stock enclosures
- possible pits
- possibe medieval and later field boundaries and land drain runs.

<13> Albion Archaeology, 2003, Land north of Pegsdon Common Farm, Shillington; Aerial photograph analysis and fieldwalking, 2003/16-22 (Archaeological Report). SBD12624.

Field artefact collection recovered a total of 1244 sherds of pottery representing 1232 vessels, the majority from the Roman period, although the Late Iron Age was also well represented. 160 fragments of ceramic building material were recovered, fifteen of which were Roman, although sixty-seven fragments could not be dated at all, the majority of the brick and flat roof tile fragments were of the late medieval period. One hundred and thirty five other artefacts were recorded, including quern fargments, remains of at least one glass bottle dated to the Roman period, post medieval clay popes, horseshoes and slag.

<14> Archaeological Services WYAS, 2002, Land north of Pegsdon Common Farm, Shillington; Geophysical Survey (Archaeological Report). SBD12625.

The survey has been largely unsuccessful in identifying anomalies correlating with the cropmarks, a single linear anomaly defining the northern edge of an enclosure being the sole exception. Other spatailly disparate discrete, linear and curvilinear areas of enhancement have also been identified. It is thought that these anomalies and the surrounding area where the background magnetic response is enhanced, could locate areas of archaeological activity despite the lack of correlation with any cropmarks. The overall lack of success in identifying more coherent anomalies indicative of occupation or settlement is attributed to either possible truncation by modern deep ploughing or the lack of magnetic contrast between the fill of any features and the surrounding matrix in an area of deep soils.

<15> Manshead Archaeological Society of Dunstable, The Manshead Magazine/Journal of the Manshead Archaeological Society of Dunstable, Vol 38, 1998, pp. 24-26 (Article in serial). SBD10788.

Late Iron Age sheds were found in large quantities with some stone scatters, pot boilers and burnt clay fragments overalpping a large Romano-British site to the north of Common Farm. Sherds (including samian) and tile fragments were found scattered (with stones) over several hundred square metres, suggeting areas of domestic settlement and cultivation.

<16> Council for British Archaeology, South Midlands Archaeology, Vol 29, 1999, pp. 11-12 (Serial). SBD10576.

Details as per Ref 15

<17> NMR/AMIE, HE NRHE Monument Inventory, 1510339 (Index). SBD12367.

Multi-phased settlement extending over circa 1 square kilometre of late Iron Age and Romano-British date. At least four barrows have been identified, as well as a large ditched sub-rectangular enclosure, field boundaries, and pennanular ditches , possibly for round houses. Following the discovery of a Roman hoard in 1998, further detection found an Iron Age mirror made of bronze and a 1st century BCE silver brooch, both of which came from a disturbed cremation burial pit.

<18> The Society of Antiquaries of London, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of London, pp. 109-140 (Serial). SBD10753.

[No info]

<19> NMR/AMIE, HE NRHE Monument Inventory, 1302313 (Index). SBD12367.

A Roman coin hoard was found in Shillington in 1999. It consisted of 127 gold aurei ranging in date from Tiberius (AD 36-7) to Vespasian (AD 78-9); the hoard was probably deposited in the early 80s AD. 18 silver denarii were also recovered from the site ranging in date from ?31 BC to Hadrian (AD 117-38); some of these may also have formed part of a hoard deposited around the same time with a few later coins. There is also evidence for votive offerings. The coins are now in Luton Museum.

Protected Status:

  • Archaeological Notification Area
  • Archaeological Notification Area (AI) HER1841: CROPMARKS & ROMAN OCCUPATION, north of Pegsdon Common
  • SHINE: Complex cropmark enclosures site north of Pegsdon Common Farm (Iron Age/Roman)

Monument Type(s):

  • FIELD SYSTEM (Late Bronze Age to Late Iron Age - 800 BC to 42 AD)
  • LINEAR FEATURE (Late Bronze Age to Roman/Romano-British - 800 BC? to 409 AD?)
  • FIELD SYSTEM (Roman/Romano-British - 43 AD to 409 AD)

Associated Finds

  • FBD7047 - NAIL (Unknown date)
  • FBD7048 - SLAG (Unknown date)
  • FBD7033 - BLADE (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • FBD7034 - FLAKE (Prehistoric - 500000 BC to 42 AD)
  • FBD7028 - SHERD (Late Bronze Age to Middle Iron Age - 1000 BC to 101 BC)
  • FBD6876 - COIN (Middle Iron Age to 2nd Century - 128 BC to 138 AD)
  • FBD6878 - BROOCH (Late Iron Age - 100 BC to 42 AD)
  • FBD6877 - MIRROR (Late Iron Age - 100 BC to 42 AD)
  • FBD907 - QUERN (Late Iron Age to Roman/Romano-British - 100 BC to 409 AD)
  • FBD6875 - SHERD (Late Iron Age - 100 BC to 42 AD)
  • FBD4043 - COIN (1st Century - 14 AD to 79 AD)
  • FBD13048 - COIN HOARD (1st Century - 14 AD to 79 AD)
  • FBD7039 - GOAD (Roman/Romano-British to Medieval - 43 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FBD15781 - HOARD (Roman/Romano-British - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FBD15783 - HOARD (Roman/Romano-British - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FBD7041 - PAPERCLIP (Roman/Romano-British - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FBD7029 - SHERD (Roman/Romano-British - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FBD7040 - SPINDLE WHORL (Roman/Romano-British - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FBD7032 - TEGULA (Roman/Romano-British - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FBD6874 - VESSEL (Roman/Romano-British - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FBD7036 - CLAY PIPE (SMOKING) (Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FBD7030 - SHERD (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FBD7035 - HORSESHOE (15th Century to 19th Century - 1400 AD to 1899 AD)
  • FBD7044 - BUTTON AND LOOP FASTENER (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FBD7043 - CROTAL (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FBD7042 - PRONG (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FBD7031 - SHERD (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FBD7045 - SPOON (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FBD7046 - THIMBLE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FBD7038 - VESSEL (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FBD7037 - WHETSTONE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Events

  • EBD218 - Land north of Pegsdon Common Farm, Shillington: Aerial photograph analysis and fieldwalking (Ref: 2003/6)
  • EBD416 - Land north of Pegsdon Common Farm, Shillington, Bedfordshire: Geophysical Survey (Ref: 1062)
  • EBD1534 - Fieldwalking in Pegsdon & Shillington, 1997

Sources and Further Reading

[1]SBD10593 - Aerial Photograph: Cambridge University Collection of Aerial Photographs (CUCAP). Cambridge AP: Index. AJI 13-15 (26/6/1964).
[2]SBD11071 - Observations and Comments: Helen Porter. Notes, Comments and Observations. December 1974.
[3]SBD10551 - Unpublished document: Bedfordshire & Luton Archives and Records Service Documents. BLARS: L33/13/4, pre-enclosure map, 1777; MA43, Enclosure map, c.1816.
[4]SBD11101 - Observations and Comments: Rob White. Comments.
[5]SBD10650 - Bibliographic reference: Angela Simco. 1984. Survey of Bedfordshire: Roman Period. p. 117.
[6]SBD10779 - Observations and Comments: Stephen R. Coleman. Comments. December 1997.
[7]SBD11464 - Unpublished document: North Herts District Council Museum Service. Press releases, Feb 1999.
[8]SBD11465 - Article in serial: British Archaeology. No 48, Oct 1999, p. 5; Roman gold mixed with native religion.
[9]SBD10509 - Observations and Comments: Angela Simco. Comments. April 2000.
[10]SBD11466 - Article in serial: DCMS. Treasure Annual Report. 1998-1999, pp. 109-111.
[11]SBD11466 - Article in serial: DCMS. Treasure Annual Report. 2000, pp. 15-16.
[12]SBD12624 - Archaeological Report: Albion Archaeology. 2003. Land north of Pegsdon Common Farm, Shillington; Aerial photograph analysis and fieldwalking. 2003/6. 2003/6, pp. 8-12.
[13]SBD12624 - Archaeological Report: Albion Archaeology. 2003. Land north of Pegsdon Common Farm, Shillington; Aerial photograph analysis and fieldwalking. 2003/6. 2003/16-22.
[14]SBD12625 - Archaeological Report: Archaeological Services WYAS. 2002. Land north of Pegsdon Common Farm, Shillington; Geophysical Survey. 1062.
[15]SBD10788 - Article in serial: Manshead Archaeological Society of Dunstable. The Manshead Magazine/Journal of the Manshead Archaeological Society of Dunstable. Vol 38, 1998, pp. 24-26.
[16]SBD10576 - Serial: Council for British Archaeology. South Midlands Archaeology. Vol 29, 1999, pp. 11-12.
[17]SBD12367 - Index: NMR/AMIE. HE NRHE Monument Inventory. 1510339.
[18]SBD10753 - Serial: The Society of Antiquaries of London. Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of London. pp. 109-140.
[19]SBD12367 - Index: NMR/AMIE. HE NRHE Monument Inventory. 1302313.