Record Details

NHER Number:1001
Type of record:Monument
Name:Branodunum Roman 'Saxon Shore' fort

Summary

This Roman 'Saxon Shore' fort was probably constructed 225 to 250 AD, replacing an earlier fort on the same site. It was one of a chain of eleven forts between Brancaster on The Wash and Portchester in Hampshire which were under the command of the 'Count of the Saxon Shore', a military commander whose forts and units are listed in the 'Notitia Dignitatum', a document compiled around AD 395. These forts were built at different times, and the earliest forts (Brancaster, Caister-on-Sea and Reculver) may have been more to do with trade than defence. In the late 200s, further forts were built (e.g. Burgh Castle) and these probably had a more defensive role, protecting the coastline against barbarian raiders. The garrison at Brancaster included units from Gaul (France) and Dalmatia (Croatia/Bosnia). The fort originally had stone walls which were demolished in the 18th century. Cropmarks indicate the locations of internal buildings, whilst finds indicate occupation during the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. These finds include a finger ring featuring early Christian symbols. Excavations were carried out here in 1846, 1935 and 1985. The name 'Branodunum' may mean 'Fort of the crow'.

Images

  • A Roman gold finger ring set with a cornelian intaglio depicting a portrait bust from Brancaster Roman fort.  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service
  • Brancaster Roman fort from the air in 1976  © Norfolk County Council

Location

Grid Reference:TF 78232 44021
Map Sheet:TF74SE
Parish:BRANCASTER, WEST NORFOLK, NORFOLK

Full description

Roman fort of the 'Litus Saxonicum' or 'Saxon Shore', the walls of which stood until the 18th century.

1829.
Finger ring found. See photos.

1846. Excavation.
Excavation produced Roman finds.

1935. Excavation.
Excavation produced further Roman material, including a bronze bracelet.

1955.
Bracelet found (S3). Donated to Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 1960.4).

1956.
Coin found.

1957.
Coin found.

1958.
Coins found.

1964-66.
A colour-coated sherd of Romano-Saxon pottery of Myres class I was found inside the walls of the Saxon-shore fort. Metalwork was also found, inlcuding a medieval strap distributor (S15).
Information taken from (S14).

1969.
Roman ring found. See drawing (S16)

1971.
Roman ceramics (S17, S18, S19 and ?S23), a comb (S18, S20, S21 and S22) and a spindle whole (S19). See also rubbings of samian ware stamps (S24)-(S25).

Before 1974.
Roman pottery sherds, iron hammer head and a coin.

1974-75.
Roman metalwork found.

1980.
Roman artefacts found.

1985. Excavation.
Excavation in ditch of fort.

See (S1), (S2) and (S4) and other details in file.

19 July 1996. NLA air photography.
Eastern edge of fort defences visible on photographs taken of vicus.
S. Massey (NLA), 30 April 2001.

2001.
For a note on building materials, see (S5).
D. Gurney (NLA), 22 January 2002.

March 2001. NMP.
Brancaster Roman fort is visible as a cropmark/parchmark on 1974 aerial photographs (S6 and S7), on 1975 aerial photographs (S8) and on 1976 aerial photographs (S9).

A feature which would have been made up of banks can be seen as a cropmark within the fort at TF 7821 4398 on 1974 Aps (S10). Another feature inside the fort to the northeast of this one can be seen at TF 7823 4404 on 1976 aerial photographs (S11). The function of these features is not clear, but they are probably contemporary with the fort.

To the east of the fort, a linear ditch feature with an associated second ditch can be seen at TF 7833 4405 on 1976 aerial photographs (S12). This would appear to be the most westerly part of the vicus (NHER 1003) which stood to the east of the fort.
A. Hunt (NMP), 21 March 2001.

January 2004. Watching brief on water-pipe trench.
Possible pit containing pottery, possible grave cut, human bones and pottery.
D. Holburn (HES), 22 September 2011.

March 2005. Watching Brief.
Watching brief on refurbishment of the Norfolk Coast Path.
No damage was caused to any archaeological deposits and no artefacts were recovered.
See report (S26) for further details.
H. Paterson (A&E), 20 April 2005.

2006.
Scheduled monument consent granted concerning new strip foundations, re-routing of exisiting drainage and the creation of a new manhole. Consent was also granted regarding arrangements to carry out a magentometer survey and a metal-detecting survey.
See (S13) for details
H. White (NLA), 3 April 2009.

15 August 2007. A small sherd of Nene Valley ware and a bone die were found in scrapings from a rabbit hole by a group of Young Archaeologists Club members visiting the site.
See description in file.
E. Darch (NLA), 11 September 2007.

Before 30 April 2008. Casual find from mole hill(s).
Two Romano-British sherds, a Romano-British tile fragment and a post-medieval sherd.
See list in file.
A. Rogerson (NLA), 1 September 2008.

16 April 2008.
Scheduled monument consent granted regarding demolition of existing garage and the building of a new boathouse.
See (S13) for more information.
H. White (NLA), 9 January 2009.

12 May 2009.
Scheduled monument consent granted regarding the construction of a new porch to an existing house.
See (S13) for more information.
H. White (NLA), 4 February 2010.

Before 12 August 2010.
One sherd of Roman Nene Valley Colour Coated ware.
See description in file.
E. Darch (HES), 24 September 2010.

August 2012. Geophysical Survey.
Magnetometer and ground penetrating radar surveys to inform subsequent work by Time Team.
Report awaited.
P. Watkins (HES), 3 July 2017.

8 June 2013
Field visit. The site is in very good condition with good grass cover. Currently being grazed by sheep with a few tracks visible. NT Interpretation panels in good order.
K. Powell (HES), 23 December 2013.

September 2013. Stray Find. [1].
1 Roman pottery sherd.
Information from PAS import.
P. Watkins (HES), 2 October 2013.

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Roman to Post Medieval - 43 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FORT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • SAXON SHORE FORT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • AXEHEAD (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • BRACELET (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • BRACELET (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • CEREMONIAL OBJECT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • COIN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • COIN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • DIE (Roman to Post Medieval - 43 AD to 1900 AD)
  • FINGER RING (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • FINGER RING (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • HUMAN REMAINS (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • KNIFE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • MOLLUSCA REMAINS (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • PIN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • PIN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • RING (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • TILE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • UNIDENTIFIED OBJECT (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • VESSEL (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • POT (Roman - 200 AD to 409 AD)
  • FINGER RING (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument
  • Higher Level Stewardship
  • Higher Level Stewardship
  • Higher Level Stewardship

Sources and further reading

---Photograph: JC,CKR,CKS.
---Aerial Photograph: TF7844 A-,ANR-APA.
---Serial: 1957. Council for British Archaeology Group 7 Bulletin of Archaeological Discoveries. No 4. p 2.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. TF7844/APL - APP.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1996. TF7844/APL - APP.
---Monograph: Pearson, A.. 2003. The Construction of the Saxon Shore Forts.. British Archaeological Reports British Series. Vol 349.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TF 74 SE 1 [4].
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Publication: Gurney, D.. 2002. Outposts of the Roman Empire. A Guide to Norfolk's Roman Forts at Burgh Castle, Caister-on-Sea and Brancaster..
---Archive: Norfolk Monuments Management Project File.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2012-2013. [Articles on Time Teams' excavation at Branodunum Roman fort].
---Serial: 1955. Council for British Archaeology Group 7 Bulletin of Archaeological Discoveries. No 2. p 4.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Roman. Brancaster [26].
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---*Rolled Plan: Large Plan Exists.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
---Fiche: Exists.
---Article in Serial: Garrow, D. 2007. Placing Pits: Landscape Occupation and Depositional Practice During the Neolithic in East Anglia. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society. Vol 73 pp 1-24.
---Drawing: [Unknown]. [Unknown]. Sketch plan showing rough location of surviving earthworks at Branodunum Roman fort. Tracing paper. Unknown.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1977. Roman fort at centre of farm battle. 6 April.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1984. Venta Icenorum left to archaeologists in Norfolk. 16 August.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1985-1986. [Articles on the work undertaken to make the site accessible for the public in 1985-1986].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1992. Surveying a fort of ancient shores. 11 November.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1998-1999. [Articles on illegal metal detecting].
---Newspaper Article: Lynn Advertiser. 1936. [Articles on illegal metal detecting]. 27 November.
---Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
---Designation: Department Of The Environment. 1882-1984?. Department of the Environment Scheduling Notification. Notification. DNF99.
---Designation: Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 1975-?. Norfolk Archaeological Unit Recommendation for Scheduling. Recommendation. DNF99.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Human Skeletal Remains (HSR). Brancaster.
<S1>Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF99.
<S2>Monograph: Hinchcliffe, J., Green, C. & Spasey. 1985. East Anglian Archaeology. East Anglian Archaeology. 23.
<S3>Illustration: Clough, T. 1955. Drawing of a Roman copper alloy bracelet. Card. 1:1.
<S4>Article in Serial: Flack, S. and Gregory, T. Excavations at Brancaster, 1985. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XL Pt II pp 164-171.
<S5>Article in Serial: Allen, J. R. L, Fulford, M. G. and Pearson, A. F. 2001. Branodunum on the Saxon Shore (North Norfolk): a Local Origin for the Building Material. Britannia. Vol XXXII pp 271-275.
<S6>Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1974. (NMR) TF 7844/285 NLA 1487/12 20-JUN-1974.
<S7>Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1974. (NMR) TF 7844/101 NLA 9876/TF 7844AFQ 25-JUN-1974.
<S8>Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1975. (NMR) TF7844/269 NLA 1488/16 21-JUL-1975.
<S9>Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1976. (NMR) 7483/23 NLA 9904/TF 7843AE 24-JUN-1976..
<S10>Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1974. (NMR) TF7844/267 NLA 1488/14 10-JUL-1974.
<S11>Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1976. (NMR) TF 7844/131 NLA 14170/7 24-JUN-1974.
<S12>Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1976. (NMR) TF 7844/129 24-JUN-1976.
<S13>Designation: DCMS. [?]-2016. Scheduled Monument Consent. SAM Consent. DNF99.
<S14>Article in Serial: Wilson, D. M. and Hurst, D. G. 1967. Medieval Britain in 1965. Medieval Archaeology. Vol X pp 168-219. p 127.
<S15>Illustration: [Unknown]. 1967. Drawing of a medieval copper alloy strap distributor. Card. 1:1.
<S16>Illustration: Milligan, W. 1969. Drawing of a Roman copper alloy finger ring. Card. 1:1.
<S17>Illustration: Milligan, W. 1971. Drawings of Roman pottery sherds. Card. 1:1.
<S18>Illustration: Milligan, W. 1971. Drawings of Roman pottery sherds and comb fragment. Card. 1:1 and 2:1.
<S19>Illustration: Milligan, W. 1971. Drawings of Roman pottery sherds and pottery spindle whorl. Card. 1:1.
<S20>Illustration: [Unknown]. [Unknown]. Annotated rubbing of a Roman comb fragment. Paper. 1:1.
<S21>Illustration: [Unknown]. [Unknown]. Annotated rubbing of a Roman comb fragment. Paper. 1:1.
<S22>Illustration: [Unknown]. [Unknown]. Rubbing of a Roman comb fragment. Paper. 1:1.
<S23>Illustration: Clough, T. Unknown. Drawings of a Roman copper alloy arrowhead, silvered copper alloy object and Roman pottery sherds. Card. 1:1.
<S24>Illustration: [Unknown]. [Unknown]. Rubbing of a Roman samian ware pottery stamp. Tracing paper. 1:1.
<S25>Illustration: [Unknown]. [Unknown]. Rubbing of a Roman samian ware pottery stamp. Tracing paper. 1:1.
<S26>Unpublished Contractor Report: Paterson, H. 2005. Report on Archaeological Watching Brief. Marsh Farm, Brancaster. Norfolk County Council (Archaeology and Environment).

Related records

1002Parent of: Brancaster Roman vicus (Monument)
1003Parent of: Brancaster Roman vicus (Monument)
1004Parent of: Roman vicus and possible early Roman fort (Monument)

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