HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > West Berkshire HER Result
West Berkshire HERPrintable version | About West Berkshire HER | Visit West Berkshire HER online...

West Berkshire HER logo

The West Berkshire Historic Environment Record (HER) is the primary index of the physical remains of past human activity in the unitary authority of West Berkshire Council. Limited elements of the West Berkshire HER are available online via the Heritage Gateway, therefore it is not suitable for use in desk-based studies associated with development, planning and land-use changes, and does not meet the requirements of paragraph 194 of the National Planning Policy Framework (2021: 56). Please read the important guidance on the use of the West Berkshire HER data. For these purposes and all other commercial enquiries, please contact the Archaeology team and complete our online HER enquiry form.

HER Number MWB3557
Record Type Monument
Name Thatcham Newtown - Roman well 1, Bath Road

Grid Reference SU 505 676
Map Sheet SU56NW
Parish Thatcham, West Berkshire
Map:Show location on Streetmap


Roman flint-lined well visible as garden feature in early 21st century, excavated in 1920s with many finds including leather shoes and pewter vessels

Other Statuses and Cross-References

  • Berkshire SMR No. (pre 2000): 01410.01.000

Monument Type(s):

  • WELL (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)

Full Description

A Roman Well is marked on the 4th Epoch Ordnance Survey 25 inch map, with annotations on the Archaeology Map copy <1>. This feature was discovered in 1925 and excavated by W E Harris and assistants over the next four years. Large flints had been found in a garden then at the western end of the village of Thatcham (later numbered 111a Bath Road). The flints almost completed a circle, and the soil within this was black and spongy, whereas that outside was firm gravel. An area 3 feet 6 inches in diameter was excavated; it became W E Harris's feature No 13 in his summary of work on the Roman site of Thatcham Newtown <2>, also referred to as 'Well 1'.

Harris described the deposits and finds revealed <3> in the well:
In 1925
About 18 inches from the surface was a quantity of Romano-British pottery and bones.
Below this was loose clean gravel with occasional large flints; the south side of the well had slipped and flints from that side had therefore mixed with the gravel. At about 3 feet, water came in flowing from the north-west, but the level of flow lowered as the excavation proceeded.
About 4 feet from the surface was a thin layer of muddy black soil. An iron nail and small pieces of brick and pottery including one of Durobrivan ware were recovered. Below this was more clean gravel with loose flints and only one find which was a cleanly broken fragment of red painted ware, lodged in the steining (lining) of the well.
At about 6 feet the circumference of the well was complete, and Harris therefore reconstructed the south side of the well with found flints. Black soil was reached below this, but water came in so fast that operations had to be suspended.
In 1928 (a dry summer) work resumed
Clean gravel was exposed.
At 8 feet from the surface black mud was reached, with two small pieces of leather at its top. An iron bar was put down, and the flint steining could be felt to a depth of 3 feet.
In 1929 (also a dry summer) Mr P Williams offered to meet the expense of completing the excavation
The muddy soil was excavated by a contractor, and was 3 feet 6 inches in depth
Below this the bottom of the well was reached, and was a continuous flint lining.
As the mud was brought up it was sieved and finds were taken out. Larger pieces of leather from shoes were recovered.
About 2 feet from the bottom (ie 9 feet 6 inches from the surface) a bronze coin of Constans was found (AD 337-50). Other finds were a small bowl with beaded rim, an iron object and a bone or ivory spindle-whorl, as well as an oyster shell, nut shell and sections of wood (described as 'bungs'). The largest objects were six pewter and tin vessels, which were a damaged flagon with an incised pattern and frieze, two shallow bowls, a small deep bowl, an oval dish and a small platter or stand. An iron padlock and key was also found.

The metal vessels were examined by Collingwood <3><5>, and a short report on the animal remains noted red deer, Celtic short horn cattle, sheep/goat and small horse bones. The excavators suggested that the vessels were early 4th century in date, perhaps a hoard although Harris fancifully imagined a thief throwing stolen articles down the well, or even children kicking the damaged flagon in.

Sources and further reading

<01>Archaeology Branch of Ordnance Survey & Newbury Museum staff. 1938 onwards. Newbury Museum Archaeology Map XXXV SW.. 35SW. 6 inch. Printed 'ROMAN WELL' and annotated. [Map / SWB11280]
<02>Newbury District Field Club. 1937. TRANS NEWBURY DISTRICT FIELD CLUB 1937 VOL 7 NO 4. P225 FIG 43 NO 13, p232-235. [Article in serial / SWB10479]
<03>Newbury District Field Club. 1931. TRANS NEWBURY DISTRICT FIELD CLUB 1931 VOL 6 NO 2. p92-101 The Excavation of the Romano-British Well at Thatcham Newtown by W E Harris. [Article in serial / SWB10576]
<04>Newbury District Field Club. 1932. TRANS NEWBURY DISTRICT FIELD CLUB 1932 VOL 6 NO 3. P127-135 Thatcham Newtown Explorations 1930-1 by W E Harris. [Article in serial / SWB6934]
<05>1931. ANT J 1931 VOL 11. XI. p37- 46 Roman Objects from Stanwix and Thatcham by R G Collingwood. [Article in serial / SWB8232]
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/antiquaries-journal ()

Related Monuments

MWB3556Thatcham Newtown - Roman settlement general location (Monument)

Associated Excavations and Fieldwork

EWB238Thatcham Newtown - general location of investigations of Roman archaeology, 1920s-30s
EWB273WBHS Monitoring 2002-2003