Alcester Roman Town

Description of this historic site

The Roman town of Alcester, originally a fort, which was surrounded by a defensive rampart. The town comprised an industrial zone in the Birch Abbey area, a residential area to the east, and several cemeteries.

Notes about this historic site

1 The Roman town lies at the confluence of the Rivers Alne and Arrow. The site is beside the confluence of the two rivers under the modern town centre and extended E to Bleachfield Street and Birch Abbey. At the S of the town are the two major Roman routes which pass through Alcester – Ryknild Street and the Salt Way. Leland and Dugdale refer to finds of archaeological material at Blacklands. Various minor discoveries in the C16-C19. From 1923 more organised archaeological work. Origins: Closely linked with the Roman army. No clear evidence of Iron Age settlement on the site, although six or seven coins of the Dobunni are known from the town. Some evidence for the presence of the army – fort to S of town and military metalwork from the town. Some C1 pottery from sites in the town. The C2 saw expansion of the settlement. Fully developed road system probably dates from this time and the roads would have been fronted by buildings, mostly of timber, but some partly in stone. In the C2 there was some type of boundary ditch at the S of the town; then late in the century, part of the town was enclosed by a large degfensive rampart. The enclosed area was about one fifth of the town. In the C4 the town continued to prosper and the defences were added to with a stone wall. In the late C4 the settlement appears to have been in decline. Little is known of the end of Roman Alcester. The town had an irregular street plan. Zoning of industrial buildings in the Birch Abbey area. Rather better quality dwellings to the E of the town. The main cemetery lay to the W of the town – other small cemeteries are known. Buildings in the Roman town are of timber and stone and demonstrate a variety of building techniques. To the W of the Roman town traces have been found of a large area of marsh which was open in the Romano British and Medieval periods. This partially explains the location of the defended area. Alcester was initially a military post and then became a market area for the surrounding community. PMB has suggested that large granaries on the Coulters Garage site indicate the organisation, running and maintenance of the collection of the annona militaris (taxes in kind) in the C2-4 from Alcester.
5 Noted.
6 Evaluation and observation at 4-6 Evesham Street revealed Romano-British features including pit and oven, gravel surfaces and boundary ditch. This source also provides similar background information as given in 1.
7 Details of Roman coins found between 1979-1991.
8 A Romano British Ditch was found during an archaeological excavation in the grounds of St. Faiths Primary School. It was probably a drainage ditch or field boundary similar to that recorded during trial trenching in 1995 at St. Benedict’s School to the south. No evidence for other Romano-British occupation was revealed in the evaluation and this would confirm that the town did not extend beyond the river and that this area was probably a series of cultivated fields.
9 Roman coin found in the back garden of a house in Evesham Street sometime between 1987 and 1991.
10 Potsherds including colour coated ware, Samian ware and a rim sherd from a mortarium found in the allotments on Bleachfield Street in August 1996.
11 Noted.
12 Evaluation at Swan Court revealed a sequence of archaeological deposits and artefacts associated with low level activity in the Roman period. The results confirmed the presence of a wet or marshy area outside the towns defences, preserving organic deposits. Redepoisted timbers were recorded from the organic deposit.
13 Observation at 12 Bleachfield Street, within the southern extra-mural area of the town. A Roman subsoil was recorded, which showed a degree of disturbance and evidence of burning, though none of it was in situ.
14 Further observation at Swan Court, pursuant to 12. An area of Roman hardstanding was recorded. Due to the construction methodology on this site, the marsh known to extend across this area was not extensively disturbed.
15 A few sherds of pottery were recovered during a watching brief at Chantry Crescent. Whilst no Romano-British features were found in the small scale excavations it is likely that not all of the archaeology was removed by the initial construction of the houses in the 1960s.
16 Some Romano-British pottery sherds, a probable Romano-British feature filled with compacted pebbles, and other probable Romano-British soil layers were found at an archaeological observation at Newport Drive, showing that, as in note 15 above, archaeology remains in this area were not removed in the house construction of the 1960s.
17 An archaeological evaluation at Acorn House, Evesham Street, Alcester within the southern suburb of the Roman town found extensive, well preserved Roman deposits just below the modern garden soil. Pottery analysis suggests that the main occupation phase was mid-1st – early 2nd-century AD.
18 A short section of Romano-British ditch was recorded in the observation of a culvert inspection chamber being excavated south of Stratford Road. The ditch ran east-west and contained tegula within its fill.

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