Roman Fort, Romano-British Town

Alcester, Warwickshire

NGRef: SP0857
OSMap: LR150
Type: Town, Fort.
Roads
Ryknild Street: N (17) to Metchley (Birmingham)
W (14) to SALINAE (Droitwich Spa, Hereford & Worcester) Via Shurnock
E (7) to Tiddington (Warwickshire)
Ryknild Street: SSE (24) to Bourton-on-the-Water (Gloucestershire)

Alcester - Alencestre - The Roman Fort on the River Alne

A suspected Roman fort was located on aerial photographs in the 1960's lying on a ridge around one kilometre to the south-east of the known Roman settlement. This site on Primrose Hill overlooks both the confluence of the River Arrow with the River Alne, also the junction of Ryknield Street with the road south from the Roman settlement at Salinae (Droitwich Spa), known as the Salt Way after the main export from the area in Roman times. Items of bronze were recovered during field-walking on the Primrose Hill site, including a harness ring with a masked loop typical of those used by auxiliary cavalry, and the earliest occupation date based on these findings appears to be Flavian.

The Alcester Roman Milestone

FL VAL CONSTANTINO PIO FELICI INVICT AVG
"For Flavius Valerius Constantinus, the Loyal and Fortunate, Unconquered Augustus.¹"
(RIB 2315f; JRS lvi (1966), p.220, no.10; dated: AD307-337)
  1. The emperor Constantine, who ruled the Empire from September AD307 until his death of illness at Ankyra in May 337.

The Alcester Romano-British Settlement

A Roman settlement of around eighteen hectares lay bestride Ryknild Street in a loop of the River Arrow to the west of its confluence with the River Alne, underlying the modern town of Alcester in Worcestershire. Town defences have been confirmed only on the east side of the settlement's circuit, where they consist of a clay rampart dated to the "second century or later", fronted by a 2.75 metre wide wall which was probably not contemporary with the bank. Excavation on the site within the defences has uncovered a third century stone building with hypocausts and up to six stone-built buildings or rooms, two of which had mosaic floors or tessalated pavements.

"[SP088572] Excavation in 1969 in the gardens of nos. 27-33 Bleachfield Street, revealed traces of a succession of timber buildings running north-south, of which the earliest was possibly Flavian. A north-south street had been constructed by the early second century, and later in the same century this was superseded by another slightly to the west, which continued long in use and was much repaired. Before the final resurfacing a large timber building, apparently of circular plan, but not closely dated, had been erected on the actual road."

Extra-mural excavations carried out to the south-east of the towns defences in the 1960's uncovered an area of around 5.7 hectares. Evidence was found of a tannery, an unreported number of 'barn-like' buildings, a series of wooden structures built on sleeper-beams [which may have been farmsteads], a circular structure of Flavian date consisting of a double palisade c.9.1 metres in diameter, two iron-working furnaces, two timber-lined wells, and a rubbish pit containing fifty intact samian-ware vessels of the Antonine period.

"[SP089569] In a field east of Bleachfield Street a cobbled road was exposed in 1970 running south-west to north-east. In the fourth century buildings with stone foundations were erected on both sides of the road. They were succeeded by timber structures of uncertain date. The road was apparently intended as a link between the Roman roads from Stratford-upon-Avon and Bourton-on-the-Water, so as to take traffic round the southern industrial suburb of the town."

The Roman cemetery very likely lay to the west side of Ryknild Street, where over one hundred undated burials have been discovered, some in stone-lined graves.

Other Roman Sites in the Neighbourhood

Aside from the settlement and forts at Alcester, there is a Roman marching camp about five miles to the west along the line of the Droitwich road at Shurnock, near Inkberrow in Worcestershire.

See: An Insect Fauna from the Roman Site at Alcester, Warwickshire, by P.J. Osborne, in Britannia ii (1971) pp.156-165;
Britannia ii (1971) p.262;
Department of the Environment - Archaeological Excavations (DoE. A.E.; 1969 & 1970).

Alcester Related Links

Alcester.CO.UK certainly the most comprehensive Alcester site on the net
The Oversley Roman Fort a page on the Roman fort on Primrose Hill

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