Record Details

NHER Number:4379
Type of record:Monument
Name:Site of Roman camp at Horstead

Summary

A Roman camp is visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs. The site occupies a fairly prominent position on a gravel terrace, overlooking a tributary of the River Bure to its north and the Bure itself a short distance to its northeast. The full extent of the camp is visible, encompassing an area measuring approximately 360m long and 260m wide (c. 9.3ha). It has been suggested as a marching camp for a half legion or large vexillation and auxiliary unit, but in the absence of further evidence its precise function must remain uncertain. The relationship of the camp with a small D-shaped enclosure (NHER 50776) – possibly of Iron Age or Romano-British date – visible as a cropmark within its circuit, raises interesting questions as to the relationship of the camp with the landscape that existed before its establishment, or that which grew up after its disuse. Similarly, a trackway (NHER 50777) which appears to roughly follow or be followed by the western side of the camp, and various field boundaries and other linear features visible in the vicinity (NHER 50778) again have potential to provide a great deal of information relating to landscape development during this period.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TG 2584 1931
Map Sheet:TG21NE
Parish:HORSTEAD WITH STANNINGHALL, BROADLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE CAMP ITSELF, THE CROPMARKS DESCRIBED BELOW ARE NOW RECORDED SEPARATELY, AS FOLLOWS: THE RING DITCH/CIRCULAR CROPMARK AS NHER 50775, THE 'BANJO-TYPE' ENCLOSURE AS NHER 50776, A TRACKWAY AS NHER 50777, AND VARIOUS FIELD BOUNDARIES AND OTHER LINEAR CROPMARKS AS NHER 50778.

Cropmarks of enclosure aligned with long sides northeast to southwest, rectangular plan with rounded corners, around 8 hectares (20 acres). C.J.S. Green (NCM) reported possible gates at two points on northwest side and one on southwest, and suggested it was a Roman marching camp for a half legion or large vexillation and auxiliary unit. Smaller enclosure inside and overlapped northwest side may be an Iron Age 'banjo-type' farm enclosure. To the west is a circular cropmark.
C.J.S. Green (NCM) and D.A. Edwards (NAU).

Note circular cropmark is outside scheduled area - see overlay.

May 1983.
South of road, pasture.
North of road ploughed.
Houses on centre of site are dated 1935.
E. Rose (NAU).

January 2008. Norfolk NMP.
With the exception of the camp itself, the cropmarks described below are now recorded separately, as follows: the ring ditch/circular cropmark as NHER 50775, the ‘banjo-type’ enclosure as NHER 50776, a trackway as NHER 50777, and various field boundaries and other linear cropmarks as NHER 50778.

The Roman camp described above is visible as a cropmark on aerial photographs (S1)-(S11), centred at TG 2585 1931. It occupies a fairly prominent position on a gravel terrace, overlooking a tributary of the River Bure to its north and the Bure itself a short distance to its northeast. What appears to be the full extent of the camp is visible, encompassing an area of approximately 9.3ha. As has been described by Welfare and Swan (1995, 1-2) (S12), ascribing a particular function or classification to such sites – 'marching camp', 'temporary camp', etc. – on the basis of their plan alone can be misleading. In this case, the fortifications certainly appear to have been lightly built, for the most part only one narrow ditch circuit being visible, thus distinguishing it from a more substantial fort, and the site occupies a strategic position in relation to the river valley less than 1km to its northeast. Its size would suggest it was not built simply for practice, but what manner of military unit occupied it, for how long, and on how many occasions is not clear.

The site is extremely significant for its potential to provide information about landscape development from the Iron Age to the post-Roman period. A small ring ditch (NHER 50775) visible 135m to its northwest may represent the remains of a Bronze Age round barrow, although it could instead be contemporary with the camp, or with another, non-military phase. More importantly, a small D-shaped enclosure (NHER 50776) is visible within the circuit of the camp, its western side (seemingly the ‘front’) parallel to the side of the camp. This enclosure is likely to be of Iron Age or Roman date, but whether it predates the camp or grew up within it when it fell into disuse is not clear. Similarly, a trackway (NHER 50777) roughly follows the line of the camp’s west side, mainly lying outside the ditch circuit but curving inside its northwest corner. It seems likely that this too was sited in relation to the camp or vice versa. Field boundaries and other linear ditches (NHER 50778) visible across the entire area, seem to slight the camp's ditch circuit in some places while respecting it in others, suggesting that when most were laid out the camp had fallen out of use, although its outline may have remained visible on the ground.
The camp is almost, but not quite, rectangular in plan, measuring approximately 360m by 260m. It is difficult to make out any clearly defined entrances, but as suggested in Welfare and Swan (1995, 70-1, fig. 58) (S12), a gap in its west side (at TG 2575 1943) to the south of a modern field boundary may be a genuine break in the circuit. The stretch of ditch (between TG 2586 1951 and TG 2591 1948) seemingly crossing a small patch of wood at the northern end of the site is puzzling, as the wood is shown as a quarry on historic maps (and older aerial photographs), which has subsequently been backfilled. How the line of the camp could be showing in such circumstances is unclear, and the vegetation mark apparently visible here may be a coincidence. A second stretch of ditch (between TG 2597 1928 and TG 2595 1924) on the camp’s east side, immediately to the south of Frettenham Road, appears as a slight earthwork on aerial photographs taken in 1994 (S11), but a ground inspection of the site by the Royal Commission (NMR TG 21 NE 9) failed to identify any surviving remains, so this too may be an illusion. No internal features contemporary with the camp can be identified with any certainty; a dense scatter of pits included in the Royal Commissions transcription of the site (NMR TG 21 NE 9; Welfare and Swan 1995, fig. 58 (S12)) are of doubtful archaeological origin, the background geology of the site being conducive to the formation of pit-like cropmarks.
Also see (S13)
S. Tremlett (NMP), 7 January 2008.

Monument Types

  • DITCHED ENCLOSURE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • ENCLOSURE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • MILITARY CAMP (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • RECTANGULAR ENCLOSURE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • RECTILINEAR ENCLOSURE (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
  • TEMPORARY CAMP (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Photograph: Plan AM24.
---Aerial Photograph: TF2519 A-,ACA-ACS.
---Serial: 1974. Council for British Archaeology Group 7 Bulletin of Archaeological Discoveries for 1974. No 21. p 5.
---Article in Monograph: Edwards, D. 1976. The Air Photographs Collection of the Norfolk Archaeological Unit.. Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. No 2 pp 251-269. p 261.
---Article in Monograph: Edwards, D.. 1978. The Air Photographs Collection of the Norfolk Archaeological Unit: Third Report. East Anglian Archaeology. No 8 pp 87-105.
---Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF429.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1994. TG 2519ACY - ACZ.
---Designation: Corbishley, M.J.. 1983. AM107.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TG 21 NE 9.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Publication: Walters, V.. 1975. AM7.
---Monograph: Welfare, H. & Swan, V.. 1995. Roman camps in England: the field archaeology.. pp 70-71. pp 1-2, 70-71; Fig 58.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Roman. Horstead with Stanninghall.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Designation: Department Of The Environment. 1882-1984?. Department of the Environment Scheduling Notification. Notification. DNF429.
<S1>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1974. NHER TG 2519E-T (NLA 3/AAZ24-37) 17-JUN-1974.
<S2>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1974. NHER TG 2519U-X (NLA 3/AAZ41-44) 17-JUN-1974.
<S3>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1977. NHER TG 2519AC-AE (NLA 45/AHX22-24) 19-JUL-1977.
<S4>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1977. NHER TG 2519AP-AT (NLA 45/AHY1-5) 19-JUL-1977.
<S5>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1977. NHER TG 2519AK-AM (NLA 52/AKG7-9) 30-JUL-1977.
<S6>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1979. NHER TG 2519AV (NLA 73/AMT8) 17-JUL-1979.
<S7>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1980. NHER TG 2519AW-AY (NLA 87/APG7-9) 30-JUL-1980.
<S8>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1982. NHER TG 2519ABG-ABH (NLA 124/ARX21-22) 30-JUN-1982.
<S9>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1986. NHER TG 2519ACB-ACL (NLA 180/DBT2-11) 17-JUL-1986.
<S10>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Ordnance Survey. 1990. OS/90224 262-4 31-JUL-1990 (NMR).
<S11>Oblique Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1994. NHER TG 2519ACX-ACZ (NLA 344/GZE8-10) 27-JUL-1994.
<S12>Monograph: Welfare, H. & Swan, V.. 1995. Roman Camps in England: The Field Archaeology.. pp 1-2, 70-71; Fig 58.
<S13>Article in Serial: Horlock, S., Albone, J. and Tremlett, S. 2008. The Archaeology of Norfolk's Aggregate Landscape: Results of the National Mapping Programme. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLV Pt III pp 337-348.

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