Defences of Manduessedum

Description of this historic site

The site of the defences of the Roman fort at Mancetter, which were excavated in 1927, 1954-56.

Notes about this historic site

1 1928: A shallow trench was cut just S of the crest of the N embankment of the ‘camp’. This revealed traces of the rampart.
2 Plan.
3 1954-5. A section was cut during construction of a sewage trench across the NW bank and ditch disclosing an outer ditch 5.5m wide and 2.75m deep, with deposits of silt. The latest pottery recovered from this ditch at an unascertained depth consisted of mortaria dating perhaps to the late 4th century. The ditch was separated from the footings of a wall by a berm 11.3m wide. The wall footings at this point consisted of diagonally placed loose stones of Hartshill quartzite much disturbed by 18th century robbing and 3.3m wide. Behind these footings was a clay bank at least 7.6m wide with marked tip layers of black and brown occupation debris. Pottery from the bank layer was mainly 2nd century, with a few sherds of late 3rd century and 4th century date. This bank was superimposed on an earlier ditch 3.65m wide containing 1st century pottery. This ditch became narrower and shallower on the N side as if tapering off to allow for an entrance
1955: Section C-D of the town defences cut as a series of 1.2m boxes to avoid flooding. The outer and inner lips of the early ditch were defined and in addition a robbed wall 2.75m wide, backed by a large clay bank 7.6m wide. Pottery indicated that the wall had been robbed in the 17th century and 18th century. It was not possible to obtain a section of the outer ditch. The bank behind the wall consisted of layers of heavy red clay intertwined with black and brown occupation debris. There was marked evidence of tipping. It seemed possible that the bank was the work of two periods. However, pottery could not be separated in date although generally speaking that from the occupation layers belonged to the 2nd century, while that from the clay was not earlier than about 250AD. The bank had been deposited on top of an earlier ditch. Pottery from the probable ditch indicated a closing date of c. 120AD. Over the tail of the bank was a thick deposit of heavy black silt containing pottery of later 4th century date. No trace of the rampart relating to the early ditch was found, but a large post-hole containing a fragment of Terra Sigillata form 37 (c100) may relate to the ditch.
1956: Section E-F of defences at SE corner intended to ascertain whether there was a bastion, but modern disturbances resulted in the cutting of the section a little to the N of the corner. It revealed an outer ditch which was not fully explored and produced a fragment of late 3rd century or 4th century mortarium. Between the ditch and the wall was a berm 10m wide, which consisted of two layers of compact gravel with a little 4th century pottery overlying 1st century and 2nd century layers and features. The trench for the wall footing was 3m wide and had been robbed in the Medieval period and the 18th century. Behind the wall was a bank of tipped layers of various types suggesting a one phase bank. An old ground surface with mid 2nd century pottery was sealed below the bank. Underneath this was a V-shaped ditch c5.5m wide and 2.7 to 3m deep with pottery not later than 90-100AD. The bank contained much pottery which is not earlier than late 3rd century. A coin of Licinius (307-24AD) and probable mid 4th century mortaria were found in a black layer overlying the tail of the bank. No trace was found of a bastion, but the robbing had been very extensive.
4 Plans.
5 Sections.
6 Mancetter is in the category of small strongpoint defences enclosing c10 acres (4 ha) or less.
7 1963: A rescue excavation for the Ministry of Works was carried out on a narrow strip on the S side of Watling Street, immediately W of the 4th century fort at Manduessedum. The outer ditch of the fort was sectioned to the bottom at 3.35m; it was some 7.6m wide and was levelled over with an industrial deposit about the middle of the 4th century (PRN 3860).
8 The above NGR has been estimated as the one given by reference 7 is inaccurate.
9 1964, site A. A section was cut through the E defences in advance of road-widening operations. This confirmed that the rampart and wall were contemporary and of late 3rd century or 4th century date. The wall was 2.62m in width. There was a flat bottomed inner ditch 1.52m deep separated from the wall by a berm 11.3m wide and 1.5m deep. 4.9m from the outer edge of the inner ditch was an outer ditch of U-shaped section and also 1.5m deep. The rampart consisted of red clay derived from the ditch, interspersed with redeposited occupation debris. Beneath and in front of the rampart were signs of intensive occupation from the late 1st century onwards, and the construction of the defences had involved the dismantling of a very substantial timber structure. No trace was found of the deep 1st century ditch discovered under a section of the rampart.
10 Plan.
11 Photograph.
12 Noted.
13 Plan of proposed alterations to road.
14 Oswald/Gathercole excavation in 1954 noted. Burgus – defences sectioned; ditch/berm/wall/bank ?late 3rd century.

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