Minor Romano-British Settlement

Chesterton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire

NGRef: SJ83124907
OSMap: LR118
Type: Minor Settlement, Fort, Temporary Camp.
Roads
Probable road: NW (14) to SALINAE
ESE (18) to Rocester

The Chesterton Environs

There are a number of Roman sites in the neighbourhood of the principal Roman auxiliary fort on the hill-top at Mount Pleasant. There is a rectangular military enclosure 400 yards south of the fort at Loomer Road and a minor Romano-British settlement lay a further 800 yards south beyond this enclosure at Holditch. The strategically placed fort at Mount Pleasant in Chesterton is thought to have replaced the earlier nearby fort at Trent Vale.

"CHESTERTON. - The distance given in the tenth iter of the Antonine Itinerary from Mediolanum to Condate (Kindeston), 19 Roman miles, has been thought sufficient to justify the identification of Chesterton and Mediolanum, but as has been stated under the heading of 'Roads' in this article, the evidence of such an identification, as far as our present information goes, appears to be inadequate. The name alone is suggestive of Roman origin. The north vallum and fosse still remain, and the east and west defences can be traced [Journ. Brit. Arch. Assoc. (New Ser.), ii, 121 et seq.]. The camp forms a parallelogram measuring 365 yds. by 300 yds. (outside measure), and encloses upwards of 20 acres, the ditch being about 20 yds. wide. So far as is known no Roman or other relics have been found on the site. Erdeswick, writing about 1603, mentions remains of masonry which were to be seen in his time in sufficiently good preservation for it to be perceived 'that the walls have been of marvellous thickness' [Erseswick, Surv. of Staffs. (ed. Harwood, 1844), 22]. The site was excavated in 1905, and the only result was the finding of some pieces of flat red sandstone joined with mortar. Mr. Charles Lynam, however, does not seem to have considered that the mortar was Roman [Journ. Brit. Arch. Assoc. (Ser. 2), ii, 121 et seq.]." (V.C.H. Staffs.)

The Mount Pleasant Auxiliary Fort

SJ832489 - Located about 2 miles NNW of the City centre, the defences of this fort were examined in 1969 and were found to consist of a timber-laced rampart 20 feet (6.1m) wide, fronted by a pair of ditches. These defences underwent at least one phase of redevelopment, during which the rampart was cut back and the inner ditch filled. The ditches contained pre-Flavian and early-Flavian pottery sherds.

Excavations in summer 1969 revealed the south-eastern defences of the fort, following the demolition of a row of 19th century houses in Mount Pleasant. These houses obscured the only remaining surface evidence of the fort defences, a high bank running parallel to the farm lane to the north-west of the site.

The fort had been carefully sited, with the ramparts erected close to the edge of a rocky outcrop. The outer ditch was dug in the hard-clay which overlies the sandstone in this part of the hill, and was probably allowed to fill with water. At the excavation site, the innermost defensive ditch had been cut into sandstone bedrock, and originally measured 15ft wide by 5 to 6 ft deep, with a square-cut drainage channel at the botttom.

The 25ft wide rampart was formed from two substantial turf walls filled with sandstone fragments. Just behind the rampart, and built into the back of it, was a large clay oven; typical of the arrangements in an auxiliary fort. In the area behind the ovens, a drainage ditch was found, probably marking the edge of the intervallum road. This road separated the Cook-house built into the back of the rampart from the timber barrack-blocks in the interior of the fort.

The scarcity of datable finds means that a precise dating of the fort is not possible, but the pottery sherds found during the excavations suggest a construction date some time during the last quarter of the first century AD.

The Romano-British Settlement at Holditch

Excavations at Holditch unearthed Samian ware, a pottery torso of Venus, a bronze bell, glass beads and other Roman pottery. These recovered items have been dated to the late 1st or early 2nd century.

Click Here for the Loomer Road Marching Camp

Click Here for the 3rd century Roman coin hoard at Lightwood

See: Britannia ii (1971) p.259;
V.C.H. Staffordshire vol.i, pp.189-90;
The North Staffordshire Journal of Field Studies, Volumes 2, 4 and 10.

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