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Name:Ancaster Roman Settlement
HER Number:30324
Type of record:Monument

Summary

Ancaster Roman settlement.

Grid Reference:SK 983 436
Map Sheet:SK94SE
Parish:ANCASTER, SOUTH KESTEVEN, LINCOLNSHIRE

Full description

A Roman town, eventually with defences covering 9.1 acres, although there are a series of buildings outside the defended area. Ermine Street passes through a walled area further to the west side than the east of Ancaster. Excavations revealed defences which consisted of an earthern rampart with a contemporary wall 7.5 feet wide on the outside. The rampart is 25-33 feet wide. The town was in existence before AD280 although not earlier than AD255. Extended towers were added in the 3rd century AD. Internal excavations revealed extensive building both on and away from the frontages of Ermine Street. The scheduled area was extended to enclose the cemetery in 1972. {1}{2}{3}{4}{5}{6}{7}{8}

A watching brief was carried out on works for water mains replacement along Ermine Street within the scheduled area of the Roman town in 1996. Several zones of archaeological deposits were identified. In the northern end of the site two ditches were identified which were on an east-west alignment and were situated approximately on the projected line of the outer and larger inner ditches of the Roman walled town. South of the inner ditch the foundations of a substantial east-west wall were exposed in the base of the trench. They consisted of three roughly cut limestone blocks, each one 800mm long, set end to end. They were sealed beneath 80mm of compact yellow sandy mortar, which appeared to be in situ, with this being the bonding for the superstructure. From this, a fragment of 3rd century pottery was recovered, providing a terminus post quem for the wall. It seems that the wall was robbed from the external face, pulling the limestone blocks and rubble core into the ditch behind. The resulting void has not been backfilled and from the section it would appear that the foundations were gradually covered by the unsupported and eroding rampart over a period of time. In zone D, a pit was identified which contained a fragment of red and white tessellated mosaic floor, which is an indicator of the scale and status of the Roman buildings which must have stood in the area. The deposits in zone F comprised two phases of Roman building, probably contemporary with the walled town. They may have been destroyed by fire. Both phases have an identical alignment which could probably reflect the position of the buildings to the true Roman road. Modern Ermine Street does not, however, seem to be the focus for their alignment. The major walls are slightly offset from 90 degrees and continue into, if not under, the present road surface. A large earthwork within Castle Close appears to line up with the phase II building, which could survive to a height in excess of 1m in the scheduled area. No evidence for Ermine Street was identified during the watching brief. It is possible that the Roman road lies a short distance to the west of the present road, not far from its present line. {9}{10}

Small trenches were excavated at SK 9821 4363, slightly to the west of the scheduled area in 1961. Romano-British material was revealed, which included 1st to 3rd century pottery, several amphora sherds of Antonine date (late 2nd century), a mortar rim of the same period, a few sherds of colour-coated ware and coarse pottery ranging in date from the 1st to the early 3rd century. The excavation also yielded a brooch of Langton Down type. {11}{12}

In 1959 to 1960 emergency excavations were carried out by the Ministry of Works. The town wall and portions of Ermine Street near the north gate of the Roman town were located. {13}

There was excavation prior to building operations in 1960 and 1961. Five levels of superimposed gravel bedding of the west edge of Roman Ermine Street were located, as well as footings of the Roman town wall and the west edge of the north gateway. {14}

A dupondius of Vespasian was found near the Maltings in 1965 (R.I.C. 740). {15}

Resistivity survey and trial trenching on land at 5 Paddock Close revealed a Roman defensive ditch and part of a Roman limestone building. Numerous Roman finds including tesserae, pottery, hypocaust tile, roof tile and painted wall plaster were recovered. Several of these finds, e.g. the tesserae, hypocaust tile and painted wall plaster, indicate a structure of considerable status. It fell out of use by the late 3rd century AD. {16}{17}

A watching brief undertaken in March 2008 at The Old Vicarage, Ermine Street revealed a redeposited layer which contained Romano-British pottery (PRN 30324a - SK 9825 4353). A separate deposit within the trench was found to contain residual 3rd century pottery and two sherds of post-medieval tile, clay pipe, metalwork and glass. {18}{19}

In 1969, fragments of Romano-British grey ware pottery were found on the Wilsford housing estate site, just opposite the north-east corner of the Roman town (PRN 30324b - SK 9849 4370). They were from two vessels; a large jar and a small beaker. They were reported at the Heckington Show, were drawn by Hilary Healey and are in the possession of SLAU. {20}

A programme of archaeological monitoring and recording was undertaken in 2013, during groundworks for extensions to 10 Ermine Street, Ancaster (PRN 30324c - SK 9838 4365). No definite Roman deposits were encountered due to the shallowness of the foundation trenches, but a possible 'dark earth' layer, thought to seal the remains of the Roman town, was recorded. Finds recovered from the deposit included a Roman coin and pottery, Roman or later tile, medieval to post-medieval pottery, glass and clay pipe, and undated animal bone. {21}{22}

The remains of a former Roman road were identified in September 2001, during the investigations of the Roman Town and Cemetery at Ancaster (PRN30324d - SK 983 435). The former road was visible as an earthwork causeway, branching off to the east from Ermine Street, from approximately where St Martin's church now lies. The road was cut by the construction of the town's defences, and must therefore have pre-dated their construction. {23}{24}

A buried soil and the remains of a wall of likely late Roman date were recorded in March 2012, at the junction of Ermine Street and Wilsford Lane, during the monitoring of groundworks for the installation of a new electrical cable at Ancaster (PRN30324e - SK 9839 4382). An assemblage of 4th century Roman material was recovered from the deposit, which overlaid a further buried soil of unknown date. The wall was comprised of three courses of roughly hewn limestone blocks, aligned on a rough north-east to south-west axis, and appeared to be cut into the buried soil, indicating a late-Roman date for its construction. A small quantity of redeposited late Roman material was also recovered in the medieval deposit immediately overlying these features.
Further structural remains of likely Roman date were exposed near to the junction of Ermine Street and Paddock Close (PRN30324f - SK 9835 4372). The remains comprised a stone slab bonded with mortar, and a nearby wall of limestone blocks, aligned on a rough north to south axis, and also with traces of mortar. The stone slab was overlain by a sequence of buried soils, from which fragments of Roman pottery and animal bone were recovered. The wall, however, cut into this sequence of soils, and could potentially be later than the Roman period, though this still remains the likeliest date, given its similarity to other remains in this area.
Further Roman material was recovered from the fill of a possible ditch or pit, recorded at the north-west corner of Castle Close (PRN30324g - SK 9833 4365). The feature had moderately steep sides, though its full extent could not be determined, and was overlain by layers of modern made-ground. Fragments of Roman greyware pottery, animal bone and a tile fragment were recovered from its fill, with a further find of Roman pottery being recovered from an underlying buried soil layer. An additional assemblage of redeposited Roman material was recovered from the fill of a nearby medieval buried soil layer.
A small quantity of redeposited Roman material was also recovered from a late post-medieval made ground layer, from the area opposite St Martin's Church (PRN30324h - SK 9830 4356). The assemblage included pottery and tile fragments, and two iron nails of likely Roman date. A single left humerus bone from a pre-natal infant was also recovered from this area, though this could not be confidently dated, and could well represent a later intrusion. {25}{26}


<1> RODWELL, W. AND ROWLEY, R.T., 1975, SMALL TOWNS OF ROMAN BRITAIN, - (Bibliographic reference). SLI1095.


<2> TODD, M., 1981, THE ROMAN TOWN AT ANCASTER, - (Bibliographic reference). SLI1103.


<3> BARLEY, M.W. ET AL, 1963-68, PARISH FILE, Interim Report, p.3 (Unpublished document). SLI4611.


<4> PARISH FILE, - (Correspondence). SLI1213.


<5> HBMC, AM 7, SAM 105 (Scheduling record). SLI4155.


<6> SMR FILE, SK 94 SE:S - (Index). SLI2876.


<7> ST JOSEPH, J.K.S., 1945-1979, CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY COLLECTION, EA037; VK68; AWW92; J94 (Aerial Photograph). SLI175.


<8> 1945-84, CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY COLLECTION, BDF68, 1970 (Aerial Photograph). SLI173.


<9> Pre-Construct Archaeology, 1997, Archaeological Watching Brief Report: Ermine Street, Ancaster, ESA96 (Intervention Report). SLI5140.


<10> Pre-Construct Archaeology, 1997, Archaeological Watching Brief: Ermine Street, Ancaster, LCNCC 166.96 (Excavation archive). SLI1510.


<11> PETCH, D.F., 1962, 'Archaeological Notes for 1961' in Lincolnshire Architectural and Archaeological Society Reports and Papers, vol.9 part 2, p.103 (Article in serial). SLI661.


<12> South Kesteven records, SK 02.42; 02.47 (Index). SLI6072.


<13> 1960, EAST MIDLANDS ARCHAEOLOGICAL BULLETIN, vol.3 (Index). SLI2230.


<14> 1961, EAST MIDLANDS ARCHAEOLOGICAL BULLETIN, vol.4 (Index). SLI2231.


<15> South Kesteven records, SK 02.70 (Index). SLI6072.


<16> Northamptonshire Archaeology, 2004, An Archaeological Trial Trench Evaluation at 5 Paddock Close, Ancaster, - (Intervention Report). SLI10742.


<17> Northamptonshire Archaeology, 2004, An Archaeological Trial Trench Evaluation at 5 Paddock Close, Ancaster, LCNCC 2004.13 (Excavation archive). SLI10743.


<18> Archaeological Project Services, 2008, Archaeological Watching Brief at The Old Vicarage, Ermine Street, Ancaster, Lincolnshire, ANOV08 (Intervention Report). SLI12182.


<19> Archaeological Project Services, 2008, Archaeological Watching Brief at The Old Vicarage, Ermine Street, Ancaster, Lincolnshire, LCNCC 2008.42 (Excavation archive). SLI12183.


<20> South Kesteven records, SK 02.59 (Index). SLI6072.


<21> Archaeological Project Services, 2014, 10 Ermine Street, Ancaster, APS site code: ANES 13 (Intervention Report). SLI14543.


<22> Archaeological Project Services, 2014, 10 Ermine Street, Ancaster, LCNCC 2013.227 (Excavation archive). SLI14544.


<23> Time Team, 2008, Ancaster Roman Town and Cemetery, - (Intervention Report). SLI8710.


<24> Time Team, 2008, Ancaster Roman Town and Cemetery, LCNCC 2001.257 and LCNCC 2001.258 (Excavation archive). SLI8712.


<25> Allen Archaeology Ltd, 2013, Ermine Street, Ancaster, AAL site code: ANER 12 (Intervention Report). SLI14801.


<26> Allen Archaeology Ltd, 2013, Ermine Street, Ancaster, LCNCC 2012.43 (Excavation archive). SLI14802.

Monument Types

  • ARTEFACT SCATTER (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • SETTLEMENT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • STRUCTURE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • TOWN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • WALL (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • WALL (Roman - 300 AD? to 409 AD?)

Associated Finds

  • HUMAN REMAINS (Unknown date)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • BROOCH (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • KNIFE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • NAIL (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • NAIL (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • NAIL (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • NAIL (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • SHERD (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • SHERD (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • SHERD (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • SHERD (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • SHERD (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • SHERD (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • SHERD (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • SHERD (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • SHERD (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • TEGULA (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • TESSERA (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • TILE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • TILE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • WALL PAINTING (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • SHERD (Roman - 200 AD to 399 AD)
  • COIN (Roman - 365 AD to 378 AD)

Associated Events

  • 1961 excavation, west of Ancaster
  • Excavations in north of Ancaster
  • A casual find from Wilsford Housing Estate
  • Resistivity survey on land at 5 Paddock Close, Ancaster
  • Trial trenching on land at 5 Paddock Close, Ancaster
  • Watching brief at Ermine Street, Ancaster
  • Excavations at Ancaster
  • Watching brief at The Old Vicarage, Ancaster
  • 10 Ermine Street, Ancaster
  • Landscape Survey at Ancaster Roman Town and Cemetery
  • Ermine Street, Ancaster

Protected Status

  • Conservation Area
  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

<1>Bibliographic reference: RODWELL, W. AND ROWLEY, R.T.. 1975. SMALL TOWNS OF ROMAN BRITAIN. -.
<2>Bibliographic reference: TODD, M.. 1981. THE ROMAN TOWN AT ANCASTER. -.
<3>Unpublished document: BARLEY, M.W. ET AL. 1963-68. PARISH FILE. ANCASTER. Interim Report, p.3.
<4>Correspondence: PARISH FILE. ANCASTER. -.
<5>Scheduling record: HBMC. AM 7. SAM 105.
<6>Index: SMR FILE. ANCASTER. SK 94 SE:S -.
<7>Aerial Photograph: ST JOSEPH, J.K.S.. 1945-1979. CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY COLLECTION. EA037; VK68; AWW92; J94.
<8>Aerial Photograph: 1945-84. CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY COLLECTION. BDF68, 1970.
<9>Intervention Report: Pre-Construct Archaeology. 1997. Archaeological Watching Brief Report: Ermine Street, Ancaster. ESA96.
<10>Excavation archive: Pre-Construct Archaeology. 1997. Archaeological Watching Brief: Ermine Street, Ancaster. LCNCC 166.96.
<11>Article in serial: PETCH, D.F.. 1962. 'Archaeological Notes for 1961' in Lincolnshire Architectural and Archaeological Society Reports and Papers. vol.9 part 2, p.103.
<12>Index: South Kesteven records. Ancaster. SK 02.42; 02.47.
<13>Index: 1960. EAST MIDLANDS ARCHAEOLOGICAL BULLETIN. vol.3.
<14>Index: 1961. EAST MIDLANDS ARCHAEOLOGICAL BULLETIN. vol.4.
<15>Index: South Kesteven records. Ancaster. SK 02.70.
<16>Intervention Report: Northamptonshire Archaeology. 2004. An Archaeological Trial Trench Evaluation at 5 Paddock Close, Ancaster. -.
<17>Excavation archive: Northamptonshire Archaeology. 2004. An Archaeological Trial Trench Evaluation at 5 Paddock Close, Ancaster. LCNCC 2004.13.
<18>Intervention Report: Archaeological Project Services. 2008. Archaeological Watching Brief at The Old Vicarage, Ermine Street, Ancaster, Lincolnshire. ANOV08.
<19>Excavation archive: Archaeological Project Services. 2008. Archaeological Watching Brief at The Old Vicarage, Ermine Street, Ancaster, Lincolnshire. LCNCC 2008.42.
<20>Index: South Kesteven records. Ancaster. SK 02.59.
<21>Intervention Report: Archaeological Project Services. 2014. 10 Ermine Street, Ancaster. APS site code: ANES 13.
<22>Excavation archive: Archaeological Project Services. 2014. 10 Ermine Street, Ancaster. LCNCC 2013.227.
<23>Intervention Report: Time Team. 2008. Ancaster Roman Town and Cemetery. -.
<24>Excavation archive: Time Team. 2008. Ancaster Roman Town and Cemetery. LCNCC 2001.257 and LCNCC 2001.258.
<25>Intervention Report: Allen Archaeology Ltd. 2013. Ermine Street, Ancaster. AAL site code: ANER 12.
<26>Excavation archive: Allen Archaeology Ltd. 2013. Ermine Street, Ancaster. LCNCC 2012.43.

Related records

30328Related to: Iron Age Settlement, Ancaster (Monument)
30323Related to: Possible Roman Camp, Ancaster (Monument)
30330Related to: Roman Cemetery, Ancaster (Monument)
30325Related to: Roman Coin Hoard, Ancaster (Find Spot)
30332Related to: Roman Settlement Remains, Ancaster (Monument)
30329Related to: Romano-British Cemetery, Ancaster (Monument)
30333Related to: Romano-British Cemetery, Ancaster (Monument)
30327Related to: Romano-British Cemetery, Ancaster (Monument)