Iron Age & Roman Britain


Though we like to give label periods of history - the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, Roman Britain etc - the reality is that whilst there may have been specific points in time when significant events happened, the Roman invasion in 43AD being a good example, for many people, subsistence farming in small settlements, there was no start or end to each era; instead more of a gradual change, often over generations. The Romano-British period in Britain was just a continuation of gradual change that had already been underway before 43AD as Briton was increasingly influenced by events on mainland Europe.

Earlier historians tended to label sites as Iron-Age, with an implication that this was earlier or more primitive than the Roman period. This is labelling of houses and settlements is based purely on the shape of the building; round for Iron-Age and rectangular for Roman. More recently and with better dating techniques it has been established that settlements with "Iron-Age" round houses were built at the same time, and sometimes even after, rectangular Roman style buildings had been erected. There is also good evidence for some Roman buildings being circular in shape.

​There is no specific knowledge about the people who lived in the area around Great Addington during the Iron Age and then the later Romano-British period. This is not unusual as despite all that is known, the reality is that we have very little information indeed about either Iron Age period or the Romano-British period across England. The Iron Age peoples left no written records and what we do know of them - apart from scant archaeological evidence - is taken from Roman authors. Of the Roman period, despite there being thousands of Roman era villas, towns, and settlements throughout Britain; very few of them have been subjected to modern archaeological investigation. It is estimated that the number of Iron Age and Roman sites throughout Britain may be as high as 50,000, with at least 2,500 Romano-British villas. Only 28 of circa 100 villa sites have been investigated in Northamptonshire. Of all the Roman villas that have been identified in Britain, we don't know who lived in any of them or even what the name of the villa was. This problem with giving names and owners to specific sites is common across Europe, with only a tiny handful of sites being clearly identified.

​The Nene valley has a higher concentration of Iron Age and Romano-British sites than other parts of Northamptonshire. This is probably due to the fact that the light valley soil was easier to plough than the boulder clay uplands, especially as iron tipped plough was only introduced relatively late in the Roman era.

Also important, is the fact that the River Nene - and the cleared valley sides - would have been a major transport route – being navigable from the sea as far inland as Northampton. It is also suspected to have been a natural border between different Iron Age tribes, as crossing points were few and far between.

The Desborough Mirror

An example of Iron Age art from Northamptonshire

Found in Desborough, Northamptonshire 1905

This Iron Age mirror is one of the finest examples of 'Celtic' art from Britain. The bronze plate was highly polished on one side to produce a reflective surface. One the back the plate was engraved with a complex design. Decorated mirrors of this type are uniquely British, very few are found on the continent.

© The Trustees of the British Museum

Iron Age Tribes AD 50

Image source unknown

The Iron Age

The Iron Age, also sometimes referred to as Celtic, peoples living in the area around 100BC are believed to be known as the Coritani (sometimes also referred to as Corieltauvi). However, rather than one tribe, they may have been a federation of smaller tribes. Their name suggests this, as it seems to be formed of two words which broadly mean something like 'joined tribes' - and probably accounts for the two different names.

​To the south, the Celtic tribe of the Catuvellauni (the name roughly translates as “war chiefs”) emerged in the late first century BC to become one of the most powerful tribes in southern Britain. They may have originated in the area of modern day Belgium and crossed over into England slightly earlier. Under their leader Cassivellaunus they expanded outwards from their original location in present day Hertfordshire to dominate much of the south midlands and eastern areas of Britain. Today that would equate to an area covering most of Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Middlesex and Surrey. They were one of, if not the most, prominent Celtic tribes of their time.

The Catuvellaunian expansion into modern day Northamptonshire was probably only as far as the Nene, which would have been a natural border. Interestingly, the earliest known name for Raunds is derived from the word “Rand” which is old English for “border” - though this may also be a later Saxon reference.

Historians have speculated that as well as land, the Catuvellauni (originally a land locked inland tribe) wanted to take advantage of the new found wealth that came with European trade and that as the supply of goods and produce had to transported through hostile territory, then they wanted to have their own access to the coastal regions of Britain. The Ouse and Nene valleys would have provided ideal routes to the coast.

​The Addingtons lie almost centrally between Iron Age hill forts at Crow Hill (Irthlingborough) and Thrapston; and directly opposite another in Raunds (Thorpe End). Between them, these fortified settlement could monitor a significant distance along the course of the Nene. Due to the layout of the sites and their location, it seems as if the main focus was to monitor, or control traffic along the Nene Valley.

​During the Roman period and into the Anglo-Saxon periods the sea levels rose considerably (see sea level map on the Anglo Saxon page). Higher sea-levels, meant that Great Addington would have been only 45 miles by river to the sea, with the sea fens being as near as modern day Peterborough and sites such as Ely being large islands off the coast of England. Evidence for these sea levels come from a variety of sources, for instance the Roman Pevensey Castle in Sussex is two miles inland, but when it was built it dominated the harbour and had the sea on three sides.

We know that during the Iron Age and Roman periods shallow bottomed boats were used to sail both to and from the continent, but would have also been invaluable for travelling up rivers such as the Nene and the Welland (which was navigable at that time). It was also common for smaller shallow bottomed river boats to be used on the river to transport goods to ports where they were transferred to larger sea going vessels.

The clay soil on the ridges above the Nene valley in which the hill forts are located would have been difficult for the Celts to plough and were therefore probably left wooded - we know that the clay uplands between the Nene and the Welland valleys was still extensively wooded in the Saxon period - as an important source for charcoal production - and was in the Medieval period the basis for the royal hunting forest of Rockingham. The main settlements of the Iron-Age and Romano-British periods were on the slopes and valley floor.

Northamptonshire, with its rich iron-ore deposits was a major centre for iron production in the Iron-Age and would have been an exporter of iron and iron-products during the Iron Age and Roman periods. The existence of iron-working sites near the river Nene, Hunsbury is a good example, and also the Welland which was navigable at this time, plus the limited amount of trackways (especially before the Roman period), point to the importance of river transport for exporting any serious quantities of bulky or heavy products. We also know that large quantities of grain were shipped northwards from around this area, and again river transport was the only realistic method of transporting the huge amount of grain that was required for the legions based in northern England.

During the Iron Age the number and range of settlements increased substantially. Iron Age farmsteads formed the dwelling places of individual families or kinship groups engaged in mixed farming, often at subsistence level. They typically consist of clusters of roundhouses and rectangular timber structures within curved ditched enclosures, although not all farmsteads were enclosed. Such farmsteads continued to predominate as a settlement form through the Roman period.

Raunds Area Project - a series of linked archaeological surveys in the Nene valley over a period of 9 years.

Image source unknown.

Raunds Area Project

In the valley area between Ringstead and Irthlingborough more rigorous archeology has taken place over the last 45 years, though unfortunetly largely on the eastern side of the river. Between 1985 and 1994 a multi-period landscape survey was undertaken known as the Raunds Area Project. It covered an area of 4,000 hectares across the parishes of Raunds, Stanwick, Ringstead and Hargrave, along with parts of Irthlingborough, Denford and Shelton. This project attempted to link field surveys over large areas with different excavations, documentary research and environmental studies. Key finds from the project include:

  • Close to the centre of the Stanwick Lakes area archaeologists discovered the remains of around 50 Iron Age roundhouses (c 400BC – 43AD). It is believed that this settlement would have continued after the arrival of the Romans. Next to the roundhouse site the archaeologists uncovered the remains of a large Roman villa (c250 – 400AD) which would have replaced a more modest original building.

  • Excavations undertaken in relation to the A45/A605 road scheme recorded the presence of Iron Age activity and late 2nd and 3rd century Roman settlement which included buildings, industrial activity and burials as well as enclosures.

  • Within Raunds is Thorpe End hillfort which consisted of a single ditched enclosure measuring 95m by 65m within which evidence for circular structures was found. The hillfort is located only 4km east of a similar enclosure at Crow Hill, Irthlingborough, which is considered to be of national importance. Two hillforts so close to each other and on either side of a river are quite unusual. Add to this the hill fort at Thrapston and we have quite a unique arrangement.

  • An Iron Age pit alignment was identified at Ringstead. Gravel extraction at Kinewell Lake revealed Iron Age hut circles and ditches. Part of a 3rd to 4th century Roman villa was also revealed (HER 347389) which consisted of several small rooms and corridors leading to a circular stone structure with a tessellated floor. An earlier timber built structure was also uncovered beneath this. Further to this, ditches, pits, inhumations and the remnants of a road, all of Roman date, were identified.

At the Stanwick Roman villa excavation a large complex was identified. In the early second century the site changed with the laying out of a series of enclosures and trackways, and the establishment of a number of stone foundation buildings. The site was changed again in the later Roman period with buildings grouped in a series of complexes.​

One Stanwick structure, identified as an aisled barn in the late second century, was enlarged and developed in the fourth century in a massive fashion and is seen as the centre of the large agricultural estate. The types of agricultural practises included evidence of the usual range of produce along with evidence of secondary processing in the form of the base of two donkey mills.

About one mile from the Stanwick villa is another Roman site which comprised barn structures and a possible watermill. Some time after the mid-second century this structure was redesigned as a villa. It is unclear whether this site was part of a larger estate centred upon the Stanwick site or if it was a separate social and economic entity.

Roman Britain

Many of the rural Iron-Age settlements continued to be inhabited and developed during the Roman period, indeed it is often difficult to differentiate between the periods. For example at Wakerley in the north of the county, during the Roman period, activity continued and indeed increased around the large Iron Age enclosure that lay south of the largely unenclosed settlement. The enclosure was re-defined and extended, and became the focus for corn-drying, pottery firing and iron-working. An aisled barn was built within the enclosure, but most occupation appears to have shifted possibly to a nearby villa. A similar scenario was played out at Weekley, with the addition that a Roman Road was cut oblique across the dominant alignment that had so influenced the development of the Iron Age settlement.

Significant Romano-British towns (victus) developed at a number of sites within Northamptonshire - at sites such as Brackley, Towcester, Whilton, Duston, Irchester, Tichmarsh, Kettering, Ashton, and a major site just outside the county (but on the Nene) at Waternewton. Many of these sites have been damaged either by later Anglo-Saxon redevelopments (such as at Towcester) or by more modern activities such as the extensive quarrying near Kettering.

The known and probable villa sites are densely concentrated along the Nene valley and its tributaries. In places the distance between neighbouring sites is no more that 1km to 2km, although not all were necessarily developed at the same time.

A combination of surface finds and cropmark evidence around a villa at Woodford suggests that it may also have been the focus of associated settlements. South-west of the villa there is a linear arrangement of tightly clustered enclosures, boundaries and pits visible over an area of approximately 4.5 hectares.

Water Newton, Durobrivae, west of modern day Peterborough was where Ermine Street (the modern A1), the main Roman road north from London, crossed the Nene and headed towards Lincoln. It was also the most easterly point before the sea (the wash at this time and into the early Medieval period coming far further inland than today) and was a significant fortress and industrial areas.

Great Addington lies between major iron production sites at Hunsbury (Northampton), near large Roman towns at Irchester, and continuous occupation sites such as Crow Hill; and only a short distance by boat from the major Roman town of Water Newton. The density of villas and their associated estates along the Nene would indicate that the valley as a whole was a net exporter of food, and it would not be unreasonable to see that the Roman villa(s) located near Great Addington benefitted from being able to ship surplus crops up or down the river to the larger Roman towns.

A Roman road also travelled along the valley close to Great Addington is (see below). Therefore the area was probably as densely populated as any rural area of Britain at this time and the Great Addington area would have been just as attractive for settlement then as it has been ever since.

We do not know whether there was a village as such here, but known archaeological finds to date show that there was at least one Roman “villa” on the edge of the village, and a number of other Iron Age or Roman era settlements and associated finds indicate habitation of more than one family group.

The villa(s) at Great and Little Addington would most likely have had main residents - owners or estate managers - plus workers for the fields, to tend the animals, skilled craftsmen, millers etc. These workers - perhaps a mix of slaves and dependent tenants - would not have lived in the villa but in settlements near or on the villa estate. Perhaps we should think of farm worker cottages near, but not too near, the larger villa. These may have been more typical Iron-Age style round houses and perhaps accounts for the mix of the two types of building around the village.

The term “villa” is misleading as we should perhaps think of it more as a large country house or farm, acting as the central location for an estate. We should also think about such an estate being not unlike a modern farm, with a significant number of buildings serving different purposes – human habitation, food storage, tool and equipment storage, etc

An article in the Northamptonshire Mercury from the 1890’s carries a report from Sydney Leveson Lane, then resident of Great Addington Manor, that reads:

“Some interesting excavations have been carried on of late at Ringstead on the sites of the Roman Camp , near the railway station, and of the the Roman Villa about a mile from the station on the old Cotton way. At the camp, pieces of old ironwork, including a horseshoe, and some small bones which might be those of game animals ... were found near the two stone foundations which mark the entrance to the camp (Roman site) on the north-east. The excavations at the Roman Villa have curiously disclosed what is supposed to be the remains of a Christian chapel. The apparent cust of a decorated window has been found, and pieces of painted glass amongst which were fragments of an opaque vitrified material more fitted for a Roman villa than for an English church, have also been discovered.”

Many sites within the Nene valley have produced evidence for continuity from one period to the next and shows that the Roman landscape was often the culmination of the previous thousand years of activity in the valley.

Sydney Leveson Lane mentioned in the Mercury article the "remains of a Christian chapel" however this has never been verified - the site has never been the subject of any archaeological investigation - and it would be a remarkable site if it was the case as there have only been a few such finds in the UK.

Route of the Roman road (RR570) near Great Addington

An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 1, Archaeological Sites in North-East Northamptonshire (London, 1975), pp. 116-123. British History Online

The Roman Road at The Addingtons

A Roman road passed where Great and Little Addington are located. The road (reference RR 570), is known to connect Lowick to Irchester. The full extent of this road is not fully known, though some sections are documented, particularly the section from Water Newton to Irchester. It is not unreasonable to propose that the full length of this road follows the course of the Nene threading together the towns, villages and villas of the Nene valley. It starts at Water Newton, where Ermine Street crossed the Nene, then heads west to Ashton, Titchmarsh, Thrapston - where it meets the Roman road from Huntingdon to Leicester - then continues through Lowick, Woodford, the Addingtons, Crow Hill Irthlingborough, Irchester, Hunsbury Hill, and then to Duston where it probably split into two; heading south-west towards Towcester and North West to Bannaventa (modern day Whilton), both major sites on Watling Street.

Excavation of a section of the what is believed to be the Roman road were undertaken near Little Addington in 1967, and revealed a cambered road structure. The road, at least 25ft wide, and about 2 1/4ft deep at its centre, was composed of tightly packed limestone cobbles with clay and some gravel resting on natural red sandy clay. All the associated finds were medieval, including a small sherd in the top few inches of the limestone cobbling, but the road does suggest a Roman origin.

Main Roman roads in Northamptonshire. The dotted red line following the course of the Nene between Titchmarsh & Irchester is RR570 which passes near Great Addingon.

Source unknown.

Location map of Iron Age and Roman remains within 2km of Great Addington and the route of the Roman road.

Roman villa foundations between Great & Little Addington. The river Nene is just off the bottom of the picture. Scattered fragments of tile, brick, stone, pottery, and oyster shells are found in a large area across the field.

The map shows the location of the the Iron Age (blue) and Roman (red) remains around Great Addington.

The route of the Roman road 570 is shown as a dotted red line.

The Roman (or possibly Iron Age) trackway is show crossing the 570 between the Woodford and Ringstead roads.

Iron Age & Roman Addington

In Great Addington it is unclear whether there was a Iron-Age or Roman site within the existing village centre, but with the wealth of archaeological finds in the immediate vicinity (see map), it is clear that there was a number of families living within the immediate area throughout the period.

Aerial photographs show clearly the foundation of a large Roman villa between the two villages. Today the site is a low mound some 50 m. square, covered by a dense scatter of Roman pottery, limestone, tiles, fragments of painted wall-plaster, tesserae, bones and oyster shells. Pottery has also been found to the south where additional buildings have been identified. Finds of Roman material from a wide surrounding area support the view that the villa was a large establishment. After the building was abandoned the roof would have fallen in, or perhaps as the tiles and possibly some walling were removed for use elsewhere, the gradual decay and collapse of the structure would have been accelerated.

The position of the villa at the foot of a slope and being near the river would have aided its burial, especially with the regular flooding of the Nene valley in that area.

Why the villa would have been abandoned - and when - is unknown, though rising sea levels and related flooding of the valley may have made the site difficult to live and work in. Flooding in 2021 reaches to the site and it is clear from sites such as West Cotton across the river that flooding led to abandonment. The large Roman villa at Stanwick is actually now below the river.

The fact that Iron Age, Roman, and later Anglo-Saxon burials took place on Shooters Hill could indicate a settlement focus there. No modern archaeological work has been conducted, apart from some field walking in the 1960s and 1970s. Burial sites at this time are not necessarily that distant from the living settlements and it could be that Shooters Hill is both a burial site and a settlement site. No aerial photography has taken place over the hill, though the gravel workings in the Georgian and Victorian eras, plus the building of the house and associated buildings there in the late Victorian period will have probably removed any soil marks that can often be seen from the air. Only a systematic, detailed archaeological survey would provide the answers.

A short distance west from Little Addington along the valley is the site another Romano-British settlement also next to the river. The villa complex and the settlement may have been associated with each other - for instance farm/estate workers living in a nearby settlement away from the villa itself.

Roman settlement site to the west of Little Addington

During the high point of Roman Britain (250-400 AD) the country was a network of settled towns with the countryside mainly given to large estates, sometime owned by absentee landlords; with a number of smaller outlying buildings and also dependent tenant farms to the larger estate.

The villa between Great & Little Addington, could perhaps have been one of these estate centres and the traces of Roman and Iron Age settlements in the near surroundings related to that villa. It was located between the Roman road and the Nene and would have had easy access to both important transportation routes.

Towards the end of the Roman period, the monetary system collapsed and more and more of the dependent tenant farms, owed allegiance and tax or bartered goods to the large estates. This situation lent itself to the Saxon invaders who exploited the collapse of society at the end of the Romano-British period to inherit the structures and systems that had been put in place by the Roman. This was the beginning of what would lead to the start of the feudal system that was to develop during the Anglo-Saxon period and be solidified by the Norman Conquest.

List of Iron Age & Roman Remains in Great Addington

The following is a list of Iron Age and Roman finds near Great Addington village. There are more sites near Little Addington, however I have not mapped all these so far.

Much of the information given is to be found on British History Online where they have digitised An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the County of Northamptonshire, Volume 1, Archaeological Sites in North-East Northamptonshire. which was first published in 1975.

Information can also be found on the archive search website Heritage Gateway which took over from the Pastscape archive which was decomissioned in December 2020 (though was still working in January 2021). It is disappointing that the best information is actually to be found in old documents and that the local and national government agencies responsible for maintaining the information about the sites are so poor.

The reference number shown - SP946741 for example - is the Ordnance Survey map location.

  1. SP 946741. South west of the village, an area of dark soil containing pebbles and Iron Age B pottery.

  2. SP 950756. North west of the village an 'Iron Age 'B' occupation site with burnt stone areas'.

  3. SP 950754. A possible Iron Age enclosure lies north-west of Rectory Farm. Aerial photographs show two small enclosures, bounded by a wide ditch with an entrance in the north-wets side of the larger. Two circular ditched features in the interior may be hut sites. A possible ditched trackway traceable for 50 m. runs from the entrance in a north-west direction.

  4. SP 97687482. Iron Age settlement and Roman villa between Great Addington and Ringstead, where Station Road near its junction with the road from Great Addington. During gravel-working in 1971 part of a complex of buildings was discovered and excavated. It consisted of a corridor with at least five rooms along one side, and adjacent to it, a circular stone building 10 m. in diameter, with a tessellated floor. This was apparently a replacement of an earlier timber structure. There were also several pits filled with building material, including painted wall-plaster and tesserae. Pottery of the 1st-3rd centuries and 3rd-century coins were discovered as well as sherds of late Iron Age type. The building certainly extended across the road junction to the East and South. A little to the West the remains of three or four inhumation burials, skeletons of a horse and a dog, as well as stones and shallow ditches, were found. The latter contained both Roman and Iron Age pottery. To the North of the buildings, top-soil stripping revealed two parallel ditches orientated East-West and 12 m. apart, traceable for only about 50 m.

  5. SP 98977419. Iron Age and Roman settlement. Roman pottery and pieces of kiln-bars were found in a number of pits and/or ditches cut by a pipe trench. At the same site, Iron Age ditches and pits are said to have been found, but the location given is imprecise.

  6. SP 947756. Roman settlement in the north-west of the village. Ploughing has produced quantities of Roman pottery, some of Nene Valley type, together with a scatter of limestone rubble and roofing tiles, perhaps indicating former buildings, over an area of 50 sq. m. Small amounts of pottery are spread over a wider area.

  7. SP 96297550–96617526. Roman(?), A Trackway which may be Romano-British but which has not been dated, is found north-east of the village, roughly parallel to the 200 ft. contour along the side of a low spur of limestone. It is orientated north-west/south-east, and crosses the Roman road (known as 570) almost at right angles, and is traceable on air photographs as two parallel ditches 25 m. apart for a distance of 400 m.

  8. SP 97807333. Roman settlement immediately east of the deserted village of Mallows Cotton. 'Some pieces of Roman money' were ploughed up here before 1720 (J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II 1791) and more recently Roman pottery, tiles and other building materials have been found (inf. D. A. Jackson).

  9. SP 97857303. Roman material found immediately east of the deserted village of Mallows Cotton. Probably part of the same site as (SP 97807333)

  10. SP 970744. Roman settlement on the site of the deserted settlement of Mill Cotton. A large quantity of Roman pottery has been noted and there is an old tradition of Roman finds in the area (J. Bridges, Hist. of Northants., II 1791).

  11. SP 965742. Roman villa 1 km south-west of the village close to the river Nene. The Roman Road (RR570) from Lowick to Irchester passes to the west of the site. Air photographs show a long range of rectangular buildings orientated north-south with other buildings to the south. Elsewhere in the area is a series of linear ditches forming no coherent pattern. On the ground the position of the range of buildings is visible as a low mound some 50 m. square, covered by a dense scatter of Roman pottery, limestone, roofing and flue tiles, fragments of painted wall-plaster, tesserae, bones and oyster shells. Pottery has also been found to the south. After the building was abandoned the roof would have fallen in, or perhaps as the tiles and possibly some walling were removed for use elsewhere, the gradual decay and collapse of the structure was inevitable. The position of the villa at the foot of a slope and being near the river would have aided its burial, especially with the regular flooding of the Nene valley in that area.

  12. SP 96817360. Roman Settlement 1 km east of Little Addington, close to the Nene. It is only visible as somewhat indistinct crop-marks on air photographs (in NMR) but appears to consist of a group of small enclosures associated with a large number of pits. A ditched track or droveway lies immediately to the W. A large quantity of Roman pottery and building-stone has been found. This is relatively close to the Villa (11 above) and if we assume they were both occupied at the same time, then there must have been an association - perhaps staff or workers for the estate lived here, or it maybe that this where the workshops and barns for the estate were. As it is so close to the river, there could have been an association with the Nene, perhaps even a dock and grain storage - though this is conjecture.

Lullingstone Roman Villa in Kent.

Circa 350.

Lullingstone is close to the river with a slope behind, a location very similar to the Roman villa between the Addington, though the Addington villa would have probably not been so grand.

Roman Villas

The term "villa" is quite misleading. Though some site were indeed the lavish country retreats or homes of the wealthy, it is perhaps better to think of a farm estate with multiple buildings spread across the estate, some perhaps clustered together for convenience, others more distant. As with today, a farm estate could be of different sizes and some may have focused on specific crops (one in the Nene valley is known to have been a site of wine production) or livestock.

Roman Villa development in Britain started later than in Europe and was at its heyday at a time when across the channel in Gaul, the villa was in decline. This may be due to the later Roman occupation of Britain, but may also be attributed to migrants from Gaul crossing to Britain to escape the wars that had broken out in Northern and Central Europe as the Roman Empire came under pressure from migrants from eastern Europe.

Romano-British villas are amongst the most characteristic settlements of the Roman period, distinguished by an adoption of Roman traits such as rectilinear building types featuring wall-paintings, mosaics, hypocausts and bath suites. Villas often lay at the heart of extensive rural estates, alongside domestic, agricultural and occasionally industrial buildings. The main buildings were generally constructed of local materials, sometimes directly on the sites of Iron Age farmsteads. Indeed, most villas are considered to have been owned by affluent descendants of the native population.

Therefore when looking at villa sites it is often found that these developed quite late in the Romano-British period, sometimes only 50 years before the end of Roman rule in Britain.

Irchester and Titchmarch: Roman Victus

The majority of the layout of Roman Irchester is visible on aerial photos in exceptional detail and lies between the modern A45 and the river Nene, and is perhaps one of the best preserved, though remarkably under investigated, victus (town) sites within Northamptonshire. The town core occupies an area of some 7 hectares with a high density of buildings, enclosures and streets, but other more dispersed elements are visible in neighbouring fields up to 300m away. The town appears to have been planned along a series of streets branching from the main north–south road. More than 200 possible buildings or structures are visible within the town. A town wall encloses the site. Roads can be clearly seen leaving the settlement heading west to Duston, north to Kettering via a causeway across the floodplain, southwards towards Olney in Buckinghamshire and east to Titchmarsh along the Nene valley.

The visible remains at Titchmarsh are rather more fragmentary and dominated by a complex, pattern of roads. A handful of buildings front the road between Godmanchester and Leicester. The road is visible 300m to the north-west as a causeway crossing the valley floor. Less than 200m south-west, a second concentration of structures is visible, focussed on the junction of several minor roads. These structures are arranged within a rectangular compound and may represent the remains of what could be either a temple complex or a mansio, which was an building for the use of officials and others on official business whilst travelling. Only 100m to the south-west the aerial photographs have recorded four sides of a pentagonal or hexagonal structure, another possible temple.