Information Board 1

Inside Mancetter Roman Fortress

Across the road to the right you can see a row of almshouses. Behind them the remains of an earthwork can still be seen. Over the centuries since the Roman conquest, a number of chance finds of coin and pottery gradually led to the belief that this could be the site of a Roman fort. It was an ideal defensive situation. The rising land in front of us, now occupied by Mancetter Church looked down on a valley to the west and the River Anker to the east. It was also an excellent vantage point from which to view the Watling Street to the south-east.

Historical background

In AD 43, during the reign of the Emperor Claudius, a Roman army, under commander-in-chief, Aulus Plautius, invaded Britain. A number of the British tribes put up a strong resistance, but were forced to surrender, some becoming ‘client kingdoms’ of Rome. Those who refused to submit were led by Caratacus in a determined and violent revolt which may have led the Romans to wonder why they had thought to conquer Britain in the first place. We now know that the Roman fort at Mancetter was constructed by the Fourteenth Legion in AD 48/49 as a substantial military base to strengthen their rule and to provide a base from which they could move north and thus extend their control to the whole of Britain. The fort’s role during Boudica’s rebellion of AD 60, has yet to be determined but it is believed by many academics that her last battle took place in Mancetter.

Roman Mancetter Fort plan

References to the Warwickshire Museum Sites and Monuments Record (now the Historic Environment Record, see at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/timetrail, are shown with the prefix ‘MWA’

The Roman fortress

A two-phase vexillation fortress was established in the pre-Flavian period on the site of the modern village of Mancetter. Traces of earlier and later forts or camps have also been found in the same general area, but on different alignments. The structures and finds recovered suggest an extended period of military occupation, with a large and prosperous garrison for part of the time. It is likely that the earliest inhabitants of the civil settlement were attracted by the presence of the garrison.

Mancetter is referred to directly in the fourth century Antonine itinerary, as Manduessedum, and indirectly in Tacitus; both of these sources imply a military role. It is now clear that Mancetter was of front-line strategic importance both during the early years of Roman occupation and consolidation, and during Boudica’s rebellion (AD60). A number of excavations have taken place, including research excavations by the Atherstone Archaeological and Historical Society, under its director, the late Keith Scott. These have located the first-century fort(s) west of the River Anker and are gradually clarifying its plan(s) and phasing. It has been shown that there were at least three reductions in size of the fort, all within the first century, but that at its largest, the fort could have housed half a legion (c.3000 men). Military occupation is not thought to have continued beyond the last quarter of the first century AD. (Warwickshire Museum, Sites and Monuments Record, Ref. MWA8267)

The coins found on these sites suggest that the fort was built after AD50, late in the reign of Claudius or early in the reign of Nero. This was followed by phase two. Phase three was Neronian dating from c. AD 62-64 to AD68. The lack of Neronian coins suggests that phase three was short. The Flavian and later Roman coins imply that there may have been some limited occupation of the site after c. AD69, either military or civilian. 1

Archaeology of the Fortress

East side

The first recorded excavation was carried out by Adrian Oswald, director of Birmingham Museum, in 1955. He noticed an earthwork forming a low bank turning a corner in field to the east of the Gramer Almshouses (now within the new cemetery) and cut a section through the bank and ditch (MWA397). Although this proved to be a medieval hedge bank, Oswald saw that the earth beneath had been disturbed. Continuing with the excavation he found a substantial Roman defensive ditch 2.6m wide and 2.1m deep. From the bottom fill came a fragment of probable Flavian or pre-Flavian pottery, and from the upper fill a fragment of Claudian pottery. It appears to have been filled by the late first century.

In 1968 a section of a Roman three-ditch military system of AD 60-70, known as a ‘punic’ ditch, was proved at the north-east of the Gramer Almshouses (MWA3850) by the Atherstone Archaeological and Historical Society. This ditch has a steep outer slope and a gentle inner slope and makes it almost impossible for a retreating enemy to escape as he finds it easy to get into the ditch but very difficult to scale the steep slope on the outer side

In 1983, foundation trenches for three small extensions to the rear of Gramer Almshouses were observed (MWA3851). Five features were recorded. There were two timber slots running roughly east to west. The other three were probably pits, though none were well-defined or very substantial. No finds were recovered, but the nature and fill of these features suggested that they belonged to the Roman military period.

Western defences

In 1978 an attempt was made to prove the location of the western defences. Two sites were chosen (MWA 3495 – Sites A, south of Old Farm Road, and B, north of Quarry Lane) and two machine-dug trenches made. At site A the geology proved a problem, but a ditch feature was identified, and two nearly complete coarse wares recovered. At Site B at least two ditches were identified with the possibility of a third. The central ditch yielded pottery of AD 60.

In 1980 Site B underwent a more detailed excavation by the Atherstone Archaeological and Historical Society (MWA3497). An area 36.6 m by 6 m was excavated by machine. Three Roman ditches were discovered and a possible thorn barrier. The recovery of Samian pottery suggested a date of c. AD 50-65. A silver denarius of BC 12 was also found. It was now possible to confirm that the western boundary of the fort had the standard form of Roman defence. This consisted of a turf and timber rampart with two ditches and, approximately 10.7 m from the inner ditches, the treacherous ‘punic’ ditch. This ditch has a steep outer slope and a gentle inner slope and makes it almost impossible for a retreating enemy to escape as he finds it easy to get into the ditch but very difficult to scale the steep slope on the outer side.

Site A was revisited in 1983, continuing the 1978 ditch section further north (MWA3499). The third ditch of the defences was dug yielding pottery and bronze finds dating to c. AD 60.

A geophysical survey in 1995 confirmed the line of the western defences (MWA7961). It is possible to posit the width of the fort as 366 m, suggesting a size of 10.9ha, thought to be ample for half a legion.

Finds (Items found on the site, the majority of which are now in the care of Warwickshire Museum Service. A small number are on display in their museum at Warwick:

 

Samian ware

2 joining sherds of plain samian (probably Neronian). ( Site 3B, ditch 2 upper fill. Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society 102, p.21).

Almost complete cup stamped PRMI, indicating the potter Primus iii, AD45 – 60 (Site 3B –ditch 2 charcoal layer. Trans 102, p.21)

Picture lamp, design unidentified (Site 3A, outer punic ditch –Trans 102, p.26)

Picture lamp with bust of Diana, also one with galley design, and one with ‘rays’ design (Punic ditch, Site 3B – Trans 102, p.26)

Roman picture lamp galley 001 (2)

Picture lamp with galley design (pictured above)

A mortarium with a very high bead and unusually thick stubby flange and body; in a very soft, self-coloured, fine-textured, cream fabric, probably made in Belgica. (Site 3A, punic ditch – Trans 102, p. 27, No 63)

Two mortaria, one pre-Flavian in brown ochre, the other greyish ware. (Site 3B, punic ditch demolition layer – Trans 102, p.33, Nos 7, 11.)

 

Coarse wares

Two nearly complete coarse wares (Site 3A)

Fragments of jars all found at Site 3B – punic ditch demolition layer (seeTrans 102, p 27.), listed as follows (1-15):

Cordoned narrow neck jar, orange ware (1)

Narrow neck globular jar with raised cordons, pale orange to greyish ware. (2)

Jar with raised cordons, grey ware (4)

Globular cordoned beaker, grey ware (5)

Orange ware, flagon lower half (6) and complete (8, 12)

Orange ware jar with grey core (9)

Grey ware, orange, external patches (10)

Reeded rim bowl, orange ware (13)

Orange ware bowl, light grey core (14)

Double-handled cup, orange ware (15)

Site 3B, ditch 2 – charcoal layer (see Trans 102, p.33), listed as follows (16-20):

Cup, light grey ware, copy of samian (16)

Mortarium pink brown ware, surface pimply, probably imported from Gaul (17)

Jar, pale brownish ware, sooted externally (18)

Jar, brown with heavy rustication, grey ware (19)

Jar, brown orange ware with grey core, sooted externally (20)

Site 3A, punic ditch demolition layer (see Trans 102, p.33, 31)

Necked jar, orange ware with pale grey core. Possibly another paint pot like one from Site 6, feature 1. Inside had thin cream reddish residue.

 

Copper alloy and silver objects

Badly corroded copper alloy penannular brooch. The ring has a circular section. (Site 3A, Trans 102, p.37, 12)

Lipped terret of Celtic form (14) (Site 3A – Trans 102, p.37)

Roman harness terret Site 3A

Lipped terret (harness ring) of Celtic form (pictured above)

A harness loop in copper alloy and silver (Site 3A – Trans 102 p.37, 15)

Copper alloy sheet with relief decoration, possibly from a legionary scabbard (Site 3 A, Trans 102, p.40, 31)

An elaborate bronze terminal on an iron shank. Thought to be a vehicle fitting (Site 3A – Trans 102 p 37, 20)

A heavily corroded pewter bar, possible only half its original thickness, having a chisel point at one end and two rivets at the other (Site 3A – Trans 102, p. 37, 21)

Wedge of lead. Must have been an infill for some purpose. (Site 3A, Trans 102, p. 45, 21)

Iron objects

A length of a strip, flat on one side and curved on the other. There is an expansion at one end into a possible rectangular frame from which the strip tapers. It is possibly part of a door or furniture fitting, perhaps attached to a hinge. (Site 3A, Trans 102, p.40, 7)

Long nail with a flat triangular head for hammering flush into the surface of the wood (Site 3A, Trans 102, p. 45, 8).

A thin iron strip (19mm wide) with a slight indication of an expansion at one end. Could have been the handle of a small vessel. (Site 3A, Trans 102, p. 45, 24)

A small knife with a curved back. (Site 3A, Trans 102, p. 45, 28)

Probably a wedge. (Site 3A, Trans 102, p. 45, 29)

The shank of a large spear or lance. (Site 3A, Trans 102, p. 45, 30).

A double hook, possibly for suspending a cauldron. (Site 3A, Trans 102, p. 45, 31).

 

Glass

2 joining rib fragments of a deep glass bowl. Pale green with purple streak. Carefully ground shoulder: parts of 4 prominent ribs with tooling marks at tops. Wheel-cut line on interior just below rim edge. (Site 3A, Trans 102, p. 48, 2.)

Yellow/brown blown glass vessel. Lower body and base fragment of cup? Convex-curved side curving into very slightly concave base. (Site 3A, Trans 102, p. 49, 18.)

Blue/green blown glass vessel. 1 rim and body and 1 body fragment of cylindrical cup. Occasional tiny bubbles. (Site 3A, Trans 102, p. 49, 22.)

Blue/green glass lower body fragment of tubular unguent bottle. Some bubbles. Straight-sided lower body curving into convex base. (Site 3A, Trans 102, p. 49, 28.)

 

Coins

Imperial coin, Claudius AD41-54. Dupondius RIC 1 82. (Site 3A, Trans 102, p. 51, 14)

Also one coin first c. As, RIC 1 66? and RIC 1 68? (Site 3A, Trans 102, p. 51, 23, 24)

One too poor to identify first cent As. (Site 3A, Trans 102, p. 51. 28)

 

North-west corner of defences

In 1996-7 Atherstone Archaeological and Historical Society carried out trial excavations on the north side of the fort (MWA8038). The trenches located several components of the north-west corner defences, showing an inner rampart and double ditch with a berm to an outer ditch. The alignments of the excavated segments suggested possible discontinuities in the outer ditch, a feature which has also been observed in the southern defences.

Further work was carried out on the site between July and December 1997 by Souterrain Archaeological Services. This added evidence of a fourth ditch necessitating a reinterpretation of the supposed discontinuities in the outer ditch and added a detailed environmental study of the ditch deposits.

In 1995 a geo-physical survey of Mancetter, Area B was carried out (MWA7961) to identify the line of the Roman defences. Area B identified anomalies which may be interpreted as the western edge of the defences.

Southern defences

In 1989 and 1990 respectively two trenches 5m wide (MWA7960) located the southern defences and have suggested a revision of the overall shape as a rectangle. In 1989 (Area viii, western trench) the northern part of the trench was found to be occupied by a later north-south ditch. South of this lay part of a substantial timber building which extended eastwards into the 1990 trench, where it was cut by a second north-south ditch parallel to the other but bending eastwards at the southern end. North of this building part of another was traced in1990; this overlay a pit containing burnt material including grains of barley and emmer. Beyond the intervallum little remained of the rampart; no signs of turf were seen and a box-rampart is suspected. Adjoining it ran two defensive ditches with traces of an obstacle on the berm between, and then an outer ditch of Punic form at a distance of 21m. A track with cart-ruts ran east-north-east over the silted angle of the later ditch: it was dated by a coin to the late second or early third century.

In 1995 a geophysical survey (MWA7468) at Mancetter (Area D) which is on the south side of the defences located a south-west/north-east linear feature 15m wide which may be associated with the defences. Emma Jones, Sites and Monuments Record Officer for Warwick County Museum was reported in the newspaper as saying that the survey had revealed a mysterious round feature which gave high readings. It appeared to be inside the fort and might have been an oven built into the ramparts, well away from the highly inflammable timber barrack buildings, “The reading may indicate burning but we won’t know for certain until the feature has been excavated.” (Heartland Evening News, 6 Sep 1995)

Excavations inside the fortress

Gramer’s Almshouses, 50m west of Mancetter Road

In 1996 seven trenches were opened during the installation of a gas main to the Almshouses (MWA8031). Only in trench 2 was there any indication of archaeology. This could possibly be a ditch of which only one side was encountered and may be an extension of one found in 1984 (MWA4632). There were no finds.

Mancetter Manor

In 1959 a coin hoard was found outside the main gates of Mancetter Manor. It appeared to have been buried at a depth of about 45 cm (MWA377). The 16 coins were military issues, mainly Claudian, dated to the first century, and appeared to have been contained in a red pottery jug.

To the west of the Manor House (Site 5)

In 1980 the Atherstone Archaeological and Historical Society began excavation of a redundant vegetable plot (MWA3853) and discovered two phases of the fort’s development. The earliest phase was revealed in two structures. As it was usual for the first occupation to be tented, the structures were thought possibly to be the remnants of the more substantial accommodation that was used by the higher ranks.

The second phase indicated the completion of timber buildings. As this excavation was in the centre of the fort, it was expected that a major building would have been located there and, indeed, one was identified. This is known as Structure 3. A foundation trench and postholes marked out a rectangular building 6 by 13 metres, with an annexe at the south-west end, 7.6m x 6.4m. Structure 4 was identified to the north-west, and indicated the corner of another large building. Structure 5 was another corner with part-proven sides of 4.9m and 4.6m. However it was not aligned with the other buildings. Local quartzite had been used as support packing in the post holes. Other features were revealed but they were not so easy to identify.

The third phase revealed a granary, which was apparent from the use of square posts in an oval post pit, which .has been associated with granary construction elsewhere in the Roman Empire. Four rows of posts had been planned along the length, the western end having a loading bay. A fifth row is conjectured from two more post holes on the south side, with another pit part-dug, indicating that construction stopped and the granary was never completed. The structure was a least 8m long and 6.4m wide. The loading bay was on the west side and measured 2.7m x 6.4m.

Finds:

Fragment of decorated Samian with part of a potter’s stamp, c. AD50-65 (Feature 155 –Trans 102, p. 21, 14)

Plain samian:

Claudio-Neronian (Feature 3, Trans 102, p.22)

Product of first-century potter, Montans, pre-Flavian (as Site 6, Feature 24). (Feature 16, p.23)

Three fragments of cup by Licinus, c. AD 40-60. (Feature 17, p.23)

Cup of Claudio-Neronian or Neronian date. (Feature 34, p.23)

Claudian or Claudio-Neronian (Feature 69)

Four pieces dated AD 45-60, stamped by Modestus, Scotnus, Rogatus and Ardacus. (Feature 72, p.23)

Two fragments of a dish, c. AD50-65. Pale fabric and brown glaze, stamped SALVE, c. AD 35-55. (Feature 72, p.23)

Three joining sherds from wall of vessel, Claudio-Neronian.(Feature 72)

Two joining fragments from cup with footring, c. AD35-55, one by Aquitanus, c. AD40-60, five joining wall fragments Claudio-Neronian, ten fragments Claudio-Neronian, two sherds pre-Flavian, one burnt, several sherds making half of a vessel c.AD50, six joining sherds, pre-Flavian, three joining wall fragments, Neronian, several small fragments, mostly Claudio-Neronian. (All above Feature 72, p.23)

Samian from later contexts: Claudio-Neronian. (Features 1 and 2, Trans 102, p.24)

Fine wares. Nine pieces of Lyon ware in pale cream, and yellow. (Feature 72, p.24, 1-9)

Cup in orange ware. (Feature 72, p.24, 7).

Cup in orange ware with grey core and red brown colour coat decorated with barbotined gadroons. (Feature 15, p. 24, 10)

Balsmarim round base in fine white ware. (Feature 15, p.24, 11)

Six picture lamps, probably made in Lyons, depicting an old woman, vine leaf, mussel, galley, ovulos, crescent moon. (Trans 102, p. 26.)

Several pieces of mortaria, mostly pre-Flavian and imported. Three pieces appear to have been made by the army, and one piece appears to have been made in Mancetter-Hartshill potteries, c. AD350-370. (Trans 102, p.27)

 

Coarse wares.

Cooking jar, orange ware grey core, used on a fire making outside badly shelled. (Feature 72, p. 33, 21).

Flagon, single-handled, orange ware. (Feature 72, p.33, 22)

Jar hard red to orange ware, sooted near base. (Feature 72, p.33, 23)

Jar red orange ware, sooted. (Feature 72, p.33, 24)

Honey jar, probably double-handed, orange ware (Feature 72, p.33, 25)

Necked jar with cordons, reddish ware, sooted slightly on upper parts, joining sherd from feature 76. (Feature 72, p.33, 26)

Necked jar, dark cream ware, grey core, sooted lower regions (Feature 72, p.33, 27)

Necked jar with cordons, pale orange ware, grey core (Feature 72, p.33, 28)

Jar grey ware, with dark cream patches, horizontal combing on shoulder, vertical combing below, very similar to vessel from feature 29. (Feature 72, p.33, 29)

Jar light grey ware with darker surface. (Feature 72, p.33, 30)

 

Brooches

Parts of an iron brooch, and a copper alloy brooch of the Colchester series. The only ornament surviving was traces of moulding on the copper alloy brooch. This latter was made up to AD 55, but had probably been lost or discarded by AD 60/65. (Feature 75, No. 1, and Feature 131, No. 3, Trans 102, p. 34)

A brooch of copper alloy (unclassified) has a fluted bow and is dated c. AD 50-75. (Trans 102, p. 36, 5)

Remnants of a brooch of a type known as Drahtfibel Derivative. It had four coils with an internal chord and probably dates from before AD60. (Trans 102, p. 36.7)

Remnants of two brooches of the Aucissa-Hod Hill type. The axis bar is housed in the rolled-over head and in (8) one of the knobs fitted to its end survives. The head has a flute with a buried head-row on each side. The upper bow has a ridge down each border, and a central swell with a buried bead-row down it. The lower bow has three small cross-flutes above two chamfers meeting in an arris. At the bottom is a flat face just above the separately made foot-knob, though the second is badly corroded. The second brooch (9) is badly corroded. (Trans 102, p.36, 8 & 9)

 

Copper and silver alloy objects

Pieces of military metalwork in copper and silver alloy (Trans 102, p. 37):

Small D buckle with two small hinged plates (1) Feature 46.

Small folded buckle plate with two rivet heads (2) Feature 29.

Part of a channel plume mount for attaching to top of a helmet (3) Feature 72.

A small bust, with the head of a bearded man, typical of Celtic work, possibly an amulet (4) Feature 72

Roman Celtic beared man bust

Celtic amulet (pictured above)

Part of a large buckle (5) Feature 72

A harness ring for attachment to a trace (6) Feature 87

A silver domed stud in the form of a flower with pierced radiating petal, may be from a garment or equipment belonging to an officer from a distant part of the empire. (7) Feature 72

Harness loop (8) Feature 34

Length of thin edging from a dagger scabbard (9) Feature 72

Thin fragment of plate 2mm thick. (10) Feature 14

A fragment of an apron mount with niello decoration (11) Feature 76

A ring 24mm diameter with biconical section.(13) Feature 76

Piece of flat plate (50 x 45mm) with a thickened edge which has been bent over, probably by accident. It appears to be plain except for two parallel slightly scored lines near the edge. It is broken three sides although one corner survives. It may be a plate mount from saddle girth (16) Feature 72

 

Copper alloy objects

A large dome stud for decorating vehicles and furniture (17) Feature 155

A heavy staff terminal (16mm internal diameter) with an expanded end for a decorated tip, possibly a coloured stone. Staves were symbols of authority carried by officers. (18) Feature 73

Small rotary key, presumably for a box or casket (19) (unstratified)

Roman key 001 (2)

Rotary Key presumably for box or casket (pictured above)

 

Iron objects

Iron bar, probably a piece of door furniture (Trans 102, p.40, 1) Feature 72.

Chisel with pieces of wooden handle (2) Feature 72

A lance point c. 2mm diameter, with a nail still in position. (4) Feature 72

Part of what could be an iron hackamore or headstall with the projecting loop of one of the reins. (14) Feature 48

A round strap end of a piece of furniture (15) Feature 34.

A piece of lorica segmentata (armour) (16) Feature 72

A square piece with projecting hook for suspending objects (17) Feature 72

A bar with hook at one end. Probably part of suspension chain for a cauldron (18) Feature 26.

A binding for a staff, or as one end is broken, it could have been an ox-goad. (19) Feature 87.

Short length of iron strip, with nail hole for a door or furniture. (22) Feature 72.

A short and stubby hammer-head. (25) Feature 72

Part of a small knife (27). Feature 72

 

Lead objects

A small lead vessel or possibly a capping for a wooden staff. (20) Feature 72

 

Glass

As it was found with pre-Flavian Samian pottery, it appears that the glass comes from the mid-first century AD, which was a period of great dynamism and change in the types of glass vessel available to soldiers. The short period of occupation of the site has been helpful in pinpointing the precise chronology of the glass in use in Britain at that time.

Joining body and base fragments of a light yellow pillar moulded bowl with a slightly concave base. Feature 2 (Trans 102, p.48, 1)

Two joining rim and two joining base and one body fragment of a slightly yellow-tinged blue/greenbowl. Slightly concave base. Features 68, 78 and 116 (Trans 102, p.48, 4)

Three rim and c. 20 body fragments of two ribbed polychrome blown glass bowl. Yellow/green with opaque white trails. Feature 72 (Trans 102, p.48, 8,9)

Lower body fragment of ribbed bowl, pale blue with opaque white trails. Feature 72 also a similar one at Feature 3 (Trans 102, p.48, 10, 11)

Neck fragment , deep blue with opaque white spots, straight side. Feature 76. Also four similar body fragments from Feature 72 and one from Feature 3. (Trans 102, p.48, 12)

Handle and body fragment of jug. Deep blue convex-curved body, edge of blue-green handle. Feature 72 (Trans 102, p.48, 13)

Convex-curved body fragment in opaque white. Feature 72. (Trans 102, p.49, 14)

Deep blue handle fragment. Curved ribbon handle with narrow prominent central rib. Feature 72. Also one undecorated deep blue body fragment from Feature 3, and a similar light blue piece from Feature 34. (Trans 102, p.49, 17)

Two rim and one body fragment of a cylindrical beaker in blue/green. Feature 86 and 128. Also two fragments with one wheel-cut line from Feature 86, and 5 with abraided horizontal bands from Feature 72. (Trans 102, p.49, 23)

Base fragment of beaker, cup or flask. Small bubbles. Edge of near vertical side: shallowly concave base. Feature 116. (Trans 102, p.49, 24)

Two joining handle fragments of jug in blue/green. Small elongated bubbles; streaky green impurities. Feature 24. (Trans 102, p.49, 25)

Handle fragment of jug similar to previous, but with small orange inclusions. Angular ribbon handle with three rounded ribs centrally. Feature 72. (Trans 102, p.49, 26)

Two joining rim fragments of unguent bottle. Small bubbles; streaky green impurity. Out-turned rim, edge sheared off, cylindrical neck. Feature 72., also one other body fragment possibly from lower body of an unguent bottle. (Trans 102, p.49, 27)

2 neck fragments of blue/green wide necked vessel. Elongated bubbles. Straight side, horizontal tooling marks at base. Feature 79. (Trans 102, p.48, 29)

Neck of fragment of flask in blue/green. Small bubbles. Part of cylindrical neck. Band of horizontal wear scratches. Feature 100. (Trans 102, p.49, 30)

 

Glass beads

One ‘eye bead’ of three (other two at Feature 1, site 6) reddish beads with stratified eyes, almost unique in Britain. They were made in the Black Sea area and imported via Poland. Feature 87

 

Coins

Ancient British copy of Augustan/Tiberian Denarius, AD 15-20. (Trans 102, p.51, 2)

Tiberius, As, AD22 (9)

Three of Claudius, Dupondius, AD41-54 (11, 12, 13)

One of Claudius, As or Dupondius, AD41-54 (15)

Two of Claudius, As, AD41-54, (17, 18, 22)

Three probably R-B copies of Claudius, As, AD41-54 (19, 20, 21)

Two Claudius, As, first century (27, 28)

Nero, Dupondius, AD54-68 (31)

Two too poor to identify, one of bronze.

Found in demolition layers of Feature 72 that contained burnt material was part of a stone vessel. The heat had changed its natural appearance to one that makes identification more difficult. Its function is unsure but it could have been a superior piece of kitchen equipment or a large dish, bowl or mortar. It could be made from a carboniferous limestone or a fairly recent spring tufa. However, it does not resemble any local limestone and may have come from Europe.

North-west of Manor House at Gramer House

Archaeological evaluation in 1997 revealed the remains of two pits, a gully and a ditch of Roman date. All of the features were ephemeral and only a small number of Roman finds were made. There followed further excavation and a watching brief. A main trench was excavated to the rear of the property and service trenches were monitored. A number of shallow pits and gullies were recorded, possibly related to military structures. These were associated with a large pit, containing industrial waste, and other more substantial ditches. A piece of worked stone, possibly from a stone building demolished in the vicinity, was also recovered. The later cuts of the ditch cluster were shown to date from the third to the fourth century, much later than the predominantly first-century activity in the area associated with the fort. A substantial ditch over 7m wide, was also recorded, probably part of the northern defences of the fort.

Roman features seemed to respect the orientation of the outer defences, reflecting an organised internal layout. Some evidence of industrial activity was recovered from the ditch and pit features. The third- to fourth-century activity recorded in the ditch cluster, located within the pipe trench, is suggested as reflecting use by farmers or as a small scale military garrison in the later Roman period. (www.warwickshire.gov.uk/timetrail MWA7968)

Mancetter village west of above site (Manor Garden)

Chance RB finds from Mancetter village indicate first-century occupation (MWA3867). No finds identified, but source is Keith Scott 1981.

Manor Farm House Garden (Site 1)

In 1976, the owner of Manor Farm House, Dr B. Kelham, was digging a hole in his garden in which to place a cast-iron lamp-post. At a shallow depth he found one complete and one almost complete amphora (MWA3496). This led to the discovery of part of a timber building with a rack for storage of the amphorae in an upright position. Further permission was readily given to excavate on the front lawn.

Below the topsoil were revealed pits and post-holes from 12th and 13th centuries and beneath that a layer of humus. This sealed the Romano-British features which were still intact in places. The uppermost Roman layer had a pebble surface where a spearhead, coin, posthole with stone packing, a spindle whorl and animal bones were found. When these were removed several features appeared, demonstrating the complexities of the intermediate phases of timber structures. In such a small area it was impossible to establish a structural sequence. From west to east there were shallow slots aligned north-south, slightly offset. They met at a possible east-west feature, at the postpit in which the outline of a post (20.4cm x 20.4cm) was noted. The north slot was cut by a shallow pit filled with charcoal. Coin No. 3 was found in the fill of the slot.

The central and most substantial foundation trench aligned to the north-north-west/south-south-east and had in it stone packing and the outlines of two rectangular posts in the pale clay fill. Fragments of a lorica segmentata (armour) were found on the vertical sides of the ‘U’ shaped slot. Nearly parallel to the central trench was a stone footing (3.23m long, 38cm wide), but it had been truncated by a 12th-century pit. At the north end of the stone footing was a charcoal outline (30cm wide), below the stones and ending at the posthole, though it also had been truncated by a 13th -century pit.

The pebble layer between the foundation trench and stone footing may represent a levelling off to cap the earlier pit and in among this pebble layer was found the glass face mask and coin No. 5.

The earliest phase was represented by pits 1 and 2, both much disturbed by later features, and tentatively shown as separate pits. Lorica No 2 came from Pit No 1 which was filled with sandy charcoal, very similar to that in pit No. 2. Along the west edge of Pit No. 2 appeared regularly spaced shallow features marked in three cases with large pieces of pot sherd and in others as charcoal outlines. It is impossible with such a small area to know what they represent or if they are all the same kind of feature.

Finds:

Samian ware

Sherds of decorated pre-Flavian samian ware in foundation trench and shallow slot west. Some probably Claudian, other Neronian. (Trans 91, p.8, i – v)

Pre-Flavian pottery, some heavily burnt, possibly Claudian, two joining rim sherds with Griffin and foliage decoation, Neronian in a shallow slot west of foundation trench. (Trans 91, p.8, vi-viii)

Fragments of bowl, etc, probably all Neronian from pebble surface. (Trans 91, p.8, ix)

Pre-Flavian samian from Pit 1, a later context.

Two fragments, decorated with chevron scroll formed from festoon stamps, with two crossed tendrils, in style of Gallicanus, AD 50-60, ( Pit 2, Trans 91, p.8, i)

Fragments of pre-Flavian, mostly Neronian samian ware, (Pit 2, Trans 91, p.8, ii)

Piece stamped with names of potters, Bassus I and Coelus, who produced a considerable output. Decoration suggests c. AD 50-70. (Pit 4,Trans 91, p.8, i)

 

Mortaria

Part of stamp of Albinus, one of the earliest and most successful potters working in potteries south of Verulamium c. AD 60-90. (Pit 3, later context, Trans 91, p.9, 1.)

 

Coarse ware (1-14 listed below, see Trans 91, p.9)

Base and, probably, rim of large store jar in dark grey ware. Pit 2 (1,2).

Bowl in brown ware 250 mm diameter. Foundation trench (3)

Two jar rims in grey ware. Foundation trench (4,5)

Base in orange ware, outer surface carbon coated. Foundation trench (6).

Globular jar narrow-necked in a light grey ware with an everted rim and body faintly rouletted. Foundation trench (7)

With the amphorae group was the upper part of a single-handle flagon in an orange ware, possibly Flavian and a disc-shaped bung or seal for amphora in a dark cream ware. Foundation trench (8, 9)

Base and rim in orange ware, and a body sherd and rim in grey ware. Pit 2 upper fill (10-13)

A spindle whorl, possibly ceramic, pale greyish ware, from pebble surface (14)

 

Amphorae found in the lamp post foundation: (15-17 listed below, see Trans 91, p.10)

One body, less rim and handles, and an intact amphora in a cream ware. (15,16),

Body and handle in light orange micaceous ware, one in pink ware, cream outside, and one in cream gritty ware (17).

 

Iron and lead (1–4 listed below, see Trans 91, p.19)

Socketed spear head – in pebble surface (1)

Square tapering hollow block, narrow end with circular hole. Pit 2 lower charcoal. (2)

Sheet lead with centrally placed hole, 2 pieces with remains of others. Pit 2 upper filling (4)

 

Glass

Moulded face mask, fragment from larger vessel in blue-green bright glass. Pit 2 pebble layer (5)

Melon bead fragment, blue-green. Unstratified (7) (see Trans 91, p.19)

Roman glass face mask etc 001

Moulded glass face mask (pictured above)

 

Copper alloy (1-17 listed below, see Trans 91, p.20)

Loricae segmentate (armour): Curved fragment one edge of which is turned over and slightly curved, the only other finished edge is below this and is straight. There is a rosette stud and a bronze buckle attachment. The fragment is right side upper back-plate. By foundation trench (1).

Small curved piece with one half of a hinge, from one of the shoulder strips. Pit 1 (2)

Almost complete slightly tapered piece with the top edge curved and the other straight and part of a hinge. This is on the right side neck piece but the strap connection is arranged differently from the reconstructions. In this case the piece is presumably connected to the shoulder strips. Foundation trench (3)

Harness junction ring with two attached and opposed rectangular loops. This more often takes the form of a decorated mount with the loops attached to the underside. Pit 2 upper clay fill (4)

Upper part of nail with rectangular head. Pit 2 upper clay fill (5)

Part of scale armour with upper edge bent over, as if part of the edging of the cuirass. Pit 2 upper clay fill (6)

Part of head-stud brooch with row of square openings for enamel. This is a common form of first- century brooch often found on military sites. Foundation trench (7)

Part of hinge of leather strap. Pit 1 (8)

Rod of square section, one end of which seems to be purposefully shaped. Stone footings (9)

Loop with attachment rivets, probably from a sword scabbard. Later post pit (10)

Ring with rounded section. Under stone footing (11)

Fragment of hinge from belt strap. Pit 2 (12)

Piece of flat heavy plate with a slightly curved edge raised on one side. The fragment is not part of a mirror but could be part of a fairly large crude moulding. Pebble surface (13)

Part of a lid of a small jug in the form of a dolphin. Pit 2 sides (14)

Flat plain strip slightly tapering, with the wider end apparently slightly curved. It is not certain if the narrow end is complete or broken. It is possible it is part of a very small pair of tweezers. The absence of decoration and rivets seems to preclude it being part of a harness clip. Pit 2 upper fill (15)

Fragment with curved edge with radius of c.165mm and well formed rivet hole, 3mm diameter. It could have been for the neck guard of a bronze helmet, although the edge does not seem to be well enough formed for this purpose. The rivet hole is reasonably well positioned for one of the sides of the loop handle normally attached to the back of the guard. An alternative suggestion is that it is part of the flat rim of a bronze bowl or jar. The rivet hole would then be for a repair or for a handle attachment. Lamp post trench (16)

Piece of strip with a rivet, probably a buckle plate from a small D-buckle. Pit 1 (17)

Mancetter Farm Farmyard (Site 6)

In 1980 Mancetter Farm and farmyard became redundant and Atherstone Archaeological and Historical Society were given the opportunity to excavate there (MWA3498). A trial trench was made at the eastern end, approximately 13.4m x 6.4m where it would be clear of previously known buildings and where there was a possibility that features in the Manor Farmhouse garden (Site 1) might align to any new ones.

No stratified layers were found above the pebble paved surface, feature 2. A similar surface had been found in Site 1, the Manor Farmhouse garden and in Site 5 (west of Manor House). This single course of pebbles sealing the earlier features made a perfect horizon from which to start. The paving still remains undated and unexplained, mainly because not enough has been exposed for any interpretation. On removal of the pebble surfaces, the complexities of earlier phases are well demonstrated by the numerous post trenches, postholes and pits.

The two ditches, features 5 and 14, were unexpected. The former had a military appearance, the latter is almost parallel and may be contemporary but neither could be closely dated.

Evidence for structures is abundant, though it is difficult to interpret buildings or phases. Only the alignment is confirmed and is on a similar line to other records. The individual structures can be suggested:

Building I is represented by features 41 and 42

Building II by features 47, 48, 50, 60 & channel 49. Feature 47 cuts an earlier pit feature 46.

Building III: features 31, 32 and 33 are foundation trenches on almost the same line, all showing much burning and probably related to the cauldron feature 26. Feature 13 may belong to the same building because, like feature 31, it truncates an earlier building IV and respects the cauldron.

Building IV possibly has two phases on the same alignment but offset slightly, represented by features 9, 12 and 35, with recuts and evidence for post settings. The three large posts on the northern edge of ditch feature 5 may also belong to IV but with the truncation it is difficult to conject.

To sum up from the SMR, the Romano-British features are provisionally of first-century date and include two parallel military-style ditches, foundation slots for three or more buildings, one of which is the end to a barrack block with a urinal-type latrine, a cauldron-type structure made of local diorite stone and several pits containing dating material.

Several pits and their filling confirm that phases exist but make no sense of the layout; none of them appear to be within a building. Rectangular and dug neatly it does not seem that they were only for rubbish burial Pit feature 1 had latrine-like greenish fill at the base to suggest its use; this was by far the richest pit producing unusual beads, the decorated hunt scene on samian, the Dobunnic coin, butt breaker, storage jars, pigments and pots to hold paint.

During the removal of the filling, unusual colours were noticed in the demolition layers of Pit feature 1. They are associated with some of the most interesting of the finds, the fine samian bear hunt scene, the rare beads, large beads, large jar, pottery vessels with paint-like substance adhered to the inside. The first line of thought was to connect the pigments with those used in wall plaster. But only three of the colours found were among those recommended by classical writers for use in fresco – haematite (pink nodule and also purple), green earth and egyptian blue. The others found were red lead oxide, realgar (orange crystalline), lead white, and bitumen (black). Therefore it appears that the Mancetter sample pigments were associated with other decorative contexts for which there was no excavated context, perhaps for embellishment and decoration of equipment. (Trans 102, p.52)

Pit feature 43 was unusual in that it contained only charcoal (Fig 8) and a nearly complete lamp with a Bacchic face mask decoration. Set next to a contemporary stone feature, both are almost truncated by later features 14 and 44 which do not make interpretation easy. Pit feature 8 had more the appearance of a demolition pit containing clay and stone similar to that used in the cauldron feature 26; there was little occupation material in the lower fill out of which appeared a coin of Vespasian in mint condition of c. AD71.

The kiln-like feature 26 (Trans 102, p.15, Fig 9a) was constructed with local quartzite and bonded with dull red clay. Where not truncated by ditch feature 14 there were walls 1.0m upstanding. The round chamber had a stone-lined floor which extended to the east as a stone channel or drain terminating at feature 29. Because ditch feature 14 was so close, with an awkward angle of truncation, it was difficult to establish the relationship of the pit feature 29 to the feature 26. The section (Fig 9a) suggests a contemporary fill to both. Burning was taking place at the bottom, but not at too high a temperature, because the clay within the structure was not baked hard. There was a large thick bronze sheet in the charcoal of the round chamber, perhaps the remains of a cauldron, using the chamber as support and supplying hot water in a structure that was burnt down and rebuilt several times.

Finds:

Samian ware – decorated (7-13 listed below, Trans, 102, p.18)

Fragment of bowl with winding scroll, spirals and alternating leaves in upper zone, a cogged festoon containing a lizard in one panel and a saltire in another on lower zone, c. AD 45-60. Feature 42, (7) (Trans, 102, p.18)

Fragment of bowl with winding scroll, spirals and four-bladed plants in upper zone. c. AD 50-65. Feature 42 (8)

Fragment of upper zone of bowl with panel containing three rows of leaf-tips impressed horizontally. Feature 42 (9)

Fragment of upper zone of bowl with winding scroll, spirals and four-beaded tie. c. AD 45-60. Feature 41 (10)

Fragment of bowl, scroll in lower zone has bead-and-chevron tie c. AD 40-60. Feature 26 (11)

Fragment of bowl with winding scrolls in both zones. C. AD 45-65. Feature 2 (12)

Greater part of a bowl stamped on the base with die of Murranus, a south Gaul potter. Bowl is decorated with scenes from a bear hunt. c. AD 45-55. Feature 1 (13)

 

Plain samian sherds were found: (listed, Trans 102, p.22)

3 sherds mainly Claudian and pre-Flavian. Feature 1

1 Neronian at Feature 2

Claudio-Neronian, pre-Flavian, Pompeian red ware. Feature 8

Two sherds of Neronian. Feature 23

Small scraps including one from first-century potter, Montans, and other possibly Neronian. Feature 24

Pre-Flavian and Claudio-Neronian. Feature 26.

Neronian, pre-Flavian. Feature 28

Pale fabric and brown glaze, stamped SABINI (of Montans), not recorded before. Feature 34

All pre-Flavian, mostly Neronian but one Claudio-Neronian. Feature 39

Neronian, Claudio-Neronian and Pompeian red ware. Feature 40

Claudio-Neronian. Feature 42

Claudian. Feature 46

Pre-Flavian. Feature 47

Claudio-Neronian. Feature 48

Pre-Flavian and Pompeian red ware dish. Feature 51.

Picture lamp with almost complete Bacchic face mask. Feature 43 (Trans, 102, p.26)

Piece of mortarium, fine-textured, brownish-cream fabric; sparse, ill-sorted and angular quartz with rare reed-brown and black material, white feldspar and mica. The design is typical of potteries of central France, AD50-85. Feature 1. (Trans 102, p.27)

 

Coarse wares. (listed in Trans 102, pp. 33-34)

Store jar in orange ware, grey core, outside has blackened patches, lower half inside is dark grey. Four notches cut on outside edge of rim. Feature 1 – 32.

Double handled flagon, orange ware with cream slip externally and splashes internally. Feature 1 – 33.

Butt beaker, pale brown to dark cream ware. Feature 1 – 34.

Necked jar in dark orange to grey ware, neck and shoulder has horizontal burnish marks. Feature 1 – 35.

Jar in dull orange ware, grey core, incised groove on rim. Probably used as a paint pot because there was a pink residue inside. Feature 1 – 36.

Grey ware jar and two sherds probably of same storage jar. Feature 1 – 37.

Feature 1 – 38 has vertical combing or scoring, 39 has incised wavy lines between cordons and horizontal combing below, both in dull browny-yellowish ware with a grey core.

Storage jar, grey ware, pale orange and grey to dark grey patches. Narrow cordon has incised sloping dashes above which a panel has groups of three lightly scored lines forming triangles. Feature 1 – 40.

Narrow neck jar, pale orange ware, similar decoration to previous. Feature 28 – 41

Bowl in grey ware. Feature 28 – 42

Storage jar, light grey ware, with possible base. Feature 28 – 43, 44

Jar in dark cream ware, dark grey core. Feature 28 – 45)

Jar in dark grey ware, also similar in cream ware. Feature 28 – 46

Two orange ware jars, one slightly sooted. Feature 42 – 47, 48

Flagon, lower half, orange ware, like Latrine pit group (see Site 2) Feature 46 – 49

Bowl , grey ware, core dull reddish. Feature 26 – 50

Reeded rim bowl, pale brownish ware, fairly gritty. Feature 24 – 51

Jar in grey ware, rim and body, probably same vessel. Feature 40 – 52

Flagon in dark cream ware. Feature 40 – 53

Base sherd in hard reddish ware, joining sherds in Feature 42. Feature 40 – 54

Strainer base in grey ware. Feature 40 – 55.

 

Brooches

Copper alloy. 37 mm surviving length. Surface corroded and no decoration can be seen. Spring has eight coils and hook is very long. The section of bow is rounded and there is no sign that the catch plate was hammered out from the bow. Has slack profile of British type. Probably made before AD 43. Feature 1. (Trans 102, p. 34, 2)

The head of this copper alloy Aucissa-Hod Hill brooch is lost. There are two cross mouldings at the top of the bow which has a deep flute down each side and, in a hollow down the middle, a raised wavy line. The foot is lost. Feature 4. (Trans 102, p. 37, 9)

Penannular brooch. The ring has a circular section. Each terminal is folded back along the surface of the ring. Basic form of terminal was in being by middle of first c.AD. Feature 9 (Trans 102, p. 37, 13)

 

Copper alloy objects (listed below see Trans 102, pp. 37- 40)

A small D buckle and plate attachment from a thin strip not of the normal military size. Feature 43 – 22

A large buckle tongue, probably from a harness. Feature 41 – 23

Part of a small decorated handle from a jug. Feature 41 – 24

A large moulded ring of a type used for a scabbard attachment. Feature 41 – 26

A terminal of a tapering strap with a rounded end from a wooden box, although there is no obvious method of attachment. Feature 40 – 27

Four heavy round and domed pins for decorating a wooden box. Features 47 and 48 – 28

Part of a large bronze plate with a crudely rolled back edge and two large rivet holes. Feature 28 – 29

A rectangular strip of bronze, probably a hinged catch for locking a wooden box. Feature 32 – 30. An 80mm length of bronze scabbard edging with a rivet at one end, and four smaller pieces of edging. Feature 1 – 32

A harness ring and a small fragment of solid leaf-shaped decoration. Feature 42 – 33

Fragments of a flat sheet, part of which appears to be part of a circle with a strip riveted to an outer edge which may have been a foot ring. It could be part of a flat platter. Feature 26 – 34.

 

Iron objects (listed below see Trans 102, pp.40-45)

A large socket with an indication of an expansion at one end. The diameter of the wood shaft is 10mm, too small for a spear, so may have been from a staff of some kind. Feature 42 – 5

A knife with an out-curved back and thick tang. Feature 52 – 6

Part of a curved lorica strip or plate with a shaped edge and two rivets, which could have been from a breast plate. Feature 1 – 9

Part of a thin plate which may be from the cheek piece of a helmet. Feature 42 – 10

A small rectangular plate with a pair of nail-holes at each end. It may have been a belt-plate or a box decoration. Feature 40 – 11

A cuirass hook. Feature 40 – 12

A large clamp for dogging two large timbers together. Feature 8 – 13

Part of a plate with bronze rivets along a shaped edge, which is slightly curved. It belonged to a broad stip of lorica in which several horizontal strips fitted up to the neck. Feature 8 – 32

Part of a flat lorica plate with a shaped curved edge. It belonged to a breast plate fitting around the neck. Feature 1 – 33.

 

Glass Vessels ( listed below see Trans 102, p. 49)

Two joining body and handle fragments of a globular jug, deep blue. Feature 29 – 16

Rim fragment of a beaker in pale green. Feature 28 – 19

Lower body and base fragment of a cup, bowl or flask in light green. Feature 8 – 20

Lower body and edge of base fragment of a square bottle. Also three flat body fragments from prismatic bottles and forty undecorated blue-green body fragments, some heat affected. Feature 40 – 31.

 

Glass beads

Three reddish beads with stratified eyes, almost unique in Britain, were found with samian ware of AD45-55, but they appear to have been made later than this in the Black Sea area and were imported via Poland. Feature 1. (Trans 102, p. 50)

 

Coins (see Trans 102, p. 51)

Ancient British Anted Didrachm of AD15-20. The most northerly recorded example of this Dobunnic silver? coin. Feature 1 – 1.

Roman Republic Denarius of the Servilia Family, 110-108BC. Feature 42 – 3

Roman Imperial Denarius of Augustus, 2BC-AD14. Feature 26 – 6.

Two Roman Imperial As of Claudius, AD41-54. Feature 42 – 10, Feature 41 – 16

Claudius, As, corroded and decayed. Feature 42 – 25

Nero, As, AD54-68, Rome mint. Unstratified – 32

Vespasian, As, AD71, Rome mint. Feature 8 – 33.

 

Animal bones

Proximal phalanx and middle phalanx of the metarcarpal (260mm long), and also metatarsal (294mm long) of, probably, the same adult horse, measuring 15 hands 2 ½ inches.

 

Near Mancetter Farm, to west of Quarry Lane

A silver coin from the reign of Anted[ios], who ruled from AD25 and was nominal ruler of the Iceni during the invasion of AD43. (Not to be confused with Anted[ios] of the Dobunnic tribe of Gloucestershire.) He issued his own inscribed coinage from around AD45.

The new vicarage, Quarry Lane (Site 7)

Archaeological evidence was uncovered during the building of the wall footings in the new vicarage in 1982 (MWA3852). It was only possible to rescue the obvious remains, which included pits, post trenches, a ditch and graphic evidence in the form of a samian bowl inscribed with the owner’s name.

Structural evidence was revealed in the form of foundation trenches and post holes. On the most eastern footings the edges of three possible pits were exposed, their charcoal filling looked very rich and promising but unfortunately was to remain unexcavated.

Curving across the site a ditch was revealed approximately 3.7m wide at the north end 2.4m wide at the south, but proving its depth was not possible. From the nature and appearance of the ditch filling it is assumed to be a Roman origin.

Finds:

The finds from this site were all unstratified and picked up off the surface.

Samian

Two fragments in Montans fabric, pre-Flavian (Trans 102, p.24)

A cup about three-quarters complete. The heavily-micaceous fabric and dull, orange glaze are typical of first-century Lezoux ware and the stamp CAPITV.F (Capitus iii, Die 2a) is attested there. The cup has a graffito on the outside of the wall. It possibly reads as a six pointed star followed by BIILALVCI. This name, ‘Belalucius’ has not been found before. He was probably a member of the early garrison. The date is probably Neronian, though could be early-Flavian.

 

Mortaria

A mortarium with a high bead and small triangular, down-curved flange, and thick body. The vessel has had some wear but there is no certain evidence that any trituration grit was ever added. A slight attempt has been made to smooth the lower half of the external surface. The general characteristics point to a pre-Flavian date, and manufacture by the army. (Trans102, p.27)

 

Glass

Lower body and base fragment, blue/green. Parts of three ribs runningonto base Interior only lightly wheel polished. Dimensions, 43 x 37[mm]. (Trans 102, p.48.)

 

Coins

Roman Imperial As of Domitian, AD81-96. Just possibly an early piece when Domitian was a young prince under Vespasian, c.73 AD. (34) (Trans 102, p.51)

Nuneaton Road, behind Old Vicarage

In 1984 an area 9m x 10m was excavated prior to the construction of a house (MWA4632). A number of features belonged to the early Roman fort sequence. These included at least two timber beam-slots and a large defensive ditch. The ditch measured at least 2 m across and 1.6m deep and was V-shaped. It appeared to be turning sharply to form the SE corner of one of the first -century forts. The slots lay outside the defended area and probably represent a different (?earlier) phase of military activity: the presence of Lyon ware confirms a pre-Flavian date. Both ditch and slots were cut by a sequence of irregular pits which produced few finds, but some at least belong to the early Roman period. Further buildings may be indicated by a number of shallow post holes.

Quarry Lane (Site 2)

In 1977 road works were carried out on the dangerous bend in Quarry Lane in an attempt to locate the ditch at the south-west of the fort. Signs of occupation had been recorded on the north bank of the lane opposite the bend, and with this in mind a week’s rescue excavation was undertaken by the Atherstone Archaeological and Historical Society (MWA385). A trial trench was dug, but proved to be negative. It was decided to keep a watching brief during the excavation work in the anticipation that the west ditches might be revealed. Soil removal commenced at the railway end. After two days, features began to appear and in the following ten days the following elements were recorded:

A latrine building outlined by ‘U’ shaped foundation trenches (41cm x 30cm) and separated by baulks of undisturbed subsoil, may possibly have been part of the end of a barrack block. In the south-east corner of this block a square-cut latrine pit (2.36m x 2.36m), with entrance channel on the north edge, had been dug to a depth of c.2.43m. The filling of the pit provided evidence about the timber cover which was supported on two planks or beams placed approximately north-south to span the opening. The cover had been sealed by a layer of pale yellowish clay and whole had collapsed and sagged into the pit.

Lying between the bottom grey silt and the remains of this cover and mainly along the north-west side was a series of flagons and pottery oil lamps. A later phase of building shown by F4 is a shallower construction of a slightly different orientation. A second building with construction trenches F2 and F3 cuts a drainage channel F1, filled with pebbles. There were traces of another building to the east which had continuous construction trenches. F2 was 53cm deep, top width 61cm, bottom width 30cm. Both F2 and F3 were protected by an extraordinarily thick topsoil measuring 53cm.

Between the two buildings, four oval hollows containing charcoal and resting on natural subsoil may be remains of hearths. When the final cutting slope was trimmed by the Highways Department parallel to the post and rail fence, more construction trenches were recorded, suggesting that the fort extends southwards into the field.

Finds

South Gaulish samian (listed below see Trans 91, p.8)

Several pieces of ware from the Claudian and Claudian-Neronian periods were found at Feature 3. Of two identified as pre-Flavian, one had an illiterate stamp for which there are no parallels, (i) – (v)

In the latrine pit were found more examples of the same period, including one rim sherd which matched a piece found at Feature 3, (i) – (iv)

A decorated piece with winding scroll and leaf decoration in the upper concavity and leaf-tips in the lower was also found in the latrine pit. Though difficult to date the pattern was used, though not exclusively, by the potter Murranus. The fabric and glaze suggest an early Neronian date, (v)

Piece of pre-Flavian and inkwell of the same period, unstratified (i) (ii)

 

Mortaria

Piece of a mortarium of unknown fabric, but consistent with pre-Flavian production (Trans 91, p. 9, 2).

 

Coarse ware (listed below, Trans 91, p.10):

Construction trench F3 :

Lower half of jar in grey ware with light red surface with calcium carbonate deposit, showing its use in cooking. (18)

Rim and neck of single-handled flagon with rounded rim in soft light-grey ware (19)

Rim and shoulder of jar in a thick light grey ware with light brown surface with an everted rim (20)

Upper part of a larger jar with outcurved rim in a softish dirty brown ware the outer surface coated with carbon (21)

Top of pinch spout flagon in soft orange ware with grooves below the junction of the handle – a form originally copied from the Graeco-Roman metal flagon. (22)

Part of neck of a large handled vessel in a soft light brown ware. It is unusual to have a single-handled vessel of this size. The angle of the handle does not suggest an early date (23)

Base of a small rough-cast with quartz grits jar or bowl in a light red ware with a cream slip, a native copy of the Gallic form (24)

Part of the body of a girth beaker in a soft brown ware with a cream colour coat with grooves and rouletting but without any sharp angled carination as on the early types (25)

Small jar in a grey ware with a slightly dished but rounded rim and high shoulder. These small pots were very common at Camulodunum and were derived from a native type. (26)

Rim of a large vessel in grey ware. (27)

Upper part of a jar in grey ware with a square rim cut with a groove at the top. This is a coarse type of store jar-cooking pot. (28)

Latrine building foundation trench( Trans 91, p.10):

Lower part and base of a globular vessel in a grey ware with red surfaces (29)

Latrine pit upper filling (listed below, Trans 91, pp.10-11):

Bowl with flat grooved rim in a hard dull reddish –brown ware. This reeded rim bowl was to become very common at Verulamium by the Flavian period. It is present at Camulodunum but not in quantity (30)

Cooking-pot or store jar in a soft dirty brown ware with sharply cut rilling on the body (31)

Jar in hard dark brownish sand-tempered ware with a well developed lid seating on the rim and the body with comb marks. This rim was to develop especially on Derbyshire wares, but is present at Camulodunum on native vessels. (32)

Rim of a hooked-rim mortarium with a small bead in a brown-red ware. The hook-rim is common at Camulodunum but the flange tends to be thick and bulbous in section. This Mancetter example shows a definite development towards the later form (33)

Rim of a ring-neck flagon in a hard white ware (34)

Wall-sided mortarium in a deep cream ware with two pairs of rivet holes with remains of a lead repair and sparse black grits. This is the normal Claudian-Neronian type (35)

Part of the body of a small carrot amphora in a hard sandy –red ware. (36)

Small colou-coted (a shiny ‘milk-chocolate’ brown) cup decorated with ‘raspberry’ roundels of Lyons ware, inside slightly rough cast. (37)

Body sherd of a butt or girth beaker in a soft dirty brown ware, decoarated with vertical combing with a fine toothed comb (38)

Lower part of a bowl in a fine orange softish ware with applied decoration. (39)

Latrine pit flagon group (listed below, Trans 91, pp.11-14):

Double-handled flagon of ovoid form in a slightly orange to brown ware. All rims have flat tops except 51, which is rounded and rises above the junction with the handles. Comparing them to similar items found elsewhere in Britain, Graham Webster dates them nearer to AD60 (40,41,42,43,44,46,47,51)

Pinched-top flagon in a sandy light red ware with a broad handle and two neatly-tooled grooves (45)

Base and lower part of a jar in cream ware, the body of which is badly laminated perhaps under heat. Surface smoothed, colour brown-red. (48)

Large dish in a hard light-red ware with a thickened grooved rim. (49)

Single –handled flagon with a devolved Hofheim rim form with a cylindrical neck and a globular body in an orange ware. The handle has three neatly incised grooves. (50)

Rim and neck of a double-handled flagon in a dirty soft brown ware with traces of surface smoothing. (52)

Rim and neck of a double-handled flagon with a grooved rim, otherwise rounded in a soft light red ware. The rim form is unusual and may have derived from a type like Hofheim 63 which has an emplacement for a seal cover, a necessary precaution if the vessels were to be used for transporting a liquid any distance. (53)

Globular jars slightly necked with rounded rims – two with square sections. Some in soft yellow brown and others in soft light red ware. (54-60)

Coarse high-shouldered jar in a pale orange ware with a slight lid seating and evidence for use for cooking. (61)

Four oil lamps with a colour-coat on a fabric green-brown. (62)

Latrine pit primary silt (listed below, Trans 91, p.14):

Small cooking pot with everted rim and square profile in a softish ware, colour indeterminable. (63)

Cooking pot in a hard reddish brown ware with a rim of S-profile providing a lid seating. This unusual rim form is seen in early vessels. (64)

Body of ovoid flagon (65). May be part of same double-handled flagon in brown ware with dark brown surfaces (68)

Necked jar with rounded rim in a dark orange and grey ware fabric takes nail scratch. This elegant formed is derived on Belgic form. (66)

Large jar in a coarse grey core softish ware with brown surface with square type rim and neatly cut grooves in the body. By the late first century it was to become a very common form at least in the East Midlands. (67)

 

Iron and lead

Curved piece with no finished edges and a hard smooth superficial coating, which may have been a fragment of a shoulder strap from a lorica. Feature 2 – 3 (Trans 91, p.19)

 

Glass

Base of vessel in blue glass. Site 2, latrine pit primary silt – 8. (Trans 91, p.19)

 

Copper alloy (listed below see Trans 91, p.20)

Fragment of a thin flat circular piece, c. 50 mm outer diameter. This is probably the other edge of a large decorative mount in the form of a boss. Although there are no indications of rivet holes for attachment round the edge, this could be achieved through the central part which is missing. Site 2, Latrine pit – 18.

Aucissa type brooch. Site 2, Feature 3 – 19.

Thin flat fragment c.102mm x 13mm. Site 2, latrine pit – 20.

Triangular-shaped fragment with curved and flat section and rivet for attachment. Site 2 – 21.

Ring, square in section, probably from a baldrick or scabbard. Site 2 – 22. (Last two unstratified)

Washer 15 mm in diameter for rivet of 2 mm diameter, found inside neck of flagon. Latrine pit – 23.

Strap buckle with triangular piece from the rivet to attach it to leather. This is a variant on the normal military type which is rectangular. Site 2, feature 4 – 24.

Pair of chain links c. 7mm diameter Site 2, latrine pit – 25.

Slightly bent hollow tube. It could have been the sheath round a wooden bucket handle or something similar. Inside the tube was preserved a small moss fragment. Site 2, feature 2 – 26.

Loop handle with a crude flattened terminal for the rivets for attachment to a bronze vessel or bucket. Site 2, latrine pit – 27.

Manor View, east of Quarry Lane

During archaeological observation during the building of a house extension (MWA7341) in 1988 a layer of clay was observed, which might have been laid down during the Roman period.

Sites in order of excavation:

Manor Farm House Garden (Site 1)

Quarry Lane (Site 2)

The West Defences (Site 3)

Cropmark by the River (Site 4) (Information Board 3)

West of the Manor House (also known as the research area in the vegetable patch (Site 5)

Mancetter Farm farmyard (Site 6)

Sources

Keith Scott, ‘Mancetter Village: a first-century fort’, Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society for 1981, Vol. 91 (1984)

Keith Scott with contributions by G. Webster, Brenda Dickinson, K. Greene, K.F. Hartley, DF Macreth, J. Price & HEM Cool, Margaret Guido, W. Seaby & J. Perry, J, Cole & A. Cook, ‘Mancetter Village: a first-century fortress continued’, Transactions of the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society for 1998, Vol. 102, pp 1- 55.

Historic Environment Record for Warwickshire ( www.warwickshire.gov.uk/timetrail)

Colin Baddeley, Roman Mancetter, Atherstone Civic Society, 2013 (available from secretary@atherstonecivicsociety.co.uk)

1 W. Seaby and J. Perry, ‘Mancetter Village, a first-century fortress continued,’ ed. Keith Scott, in Transactions for 1998, Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society, Vol 102, p.52.