Monument record WMH 038 - Land off St Michael's Way, Wenhaston with Mells, (Roman Rural Settlement)

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Evidence of Roman rural settlement including structures, ditched plot boundaries, enclosures pits and 'dark earth'/palaeochannel at Land off St Michael's Way.


Grid reference Centred TM 428 753 (189m by 150m)
Map sheet TM47NW


Type and Period (13)

Full Description

2013: Archaeological evaluation revealed evidence of over twenty archaeological features mainly ditches and pits, also recorded was a formation of deposits known as 'buried soil' or 'dark earth'. The majority of features and deposits have been attributed to the Romano-british period with a number of artefacts indicating 2nd or 3rd centuries AD. The presence of buried soils or dark earth may be evidence of deliberate dumping and prolonged periods of settlement and abandonment or may be a result of the site's marginal location in relation to a more preferable location (S1).

2015: Excavation demonstrated the presence of extensive Roman settlement remains. In addition, many Roman metalwork artefacts were recovered, the coin assemblage is indicative of special deposition, rather than casual loss, while the range of other metalwork artefacts recovered, which includes a relatively large number of brooches and a miniature votive sword, may indicate the presence of a possible shrine/sanctuary in the close vicinity.

The settlement remains span the Middle Roman period (c.AD150-300) but appear to predominantly belong to the 2nd century AD. A regular system of ditched plot boundaries extended across the higher/flatter ground in the western part of the site. Within the central part of the site, settlement remains focused on a spring, where palaeochannel deposits found equate to the 'dark earth' deposits encountered in the evaluation. An enclosure and two further ditched boundaries were revealed around a set of large pits, representing wells, and a watering-hole sunk into the perched water-table of the spring. The remains of three post-built structures were also revealed across the site, along with further pits and related activity. The waterlogged deposits with the wells and watering-hole revealed timber well lining preserved at the base of one well and deposits of preserved timbers at the base of another well. In addition, Roman pottery recovered from the base of these two wells displays examples of graffiti, including a swastika symbol.

Pollen remains (from the well deposits) provide evidence for a possible change in land-use during the Middle Roman period, from arable cultivation to a pastoral regime. Pollen remains are also suggestive of mixed stands of woodland, including beech and lime, either nearby or possibly in gardens within the settlement. Following the pastoral phase the surrounding environment appears to have deteriorated further to a landscape dominated by moorland and scrub vegetation (S2).

Sources/Archives (3)

  • --- Unpublished document: Williams, D.. Geophysical Survey, Land south-east of Wenhaston.
  • <S1> Unpublished document: Ames, J.. 2013. Archaeological trial trench evaluation at Land off St Michael's Way, Wenhaston with Mells, Suffolk.
  • <S2> Unpublished document: Clarke, G.. 2017. Roman Settlement Remains on Land off St Michael's Way, Wenhaston, Suffolk.

Finds (40)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (3)

Record last edited

Jun 26 2020 9:53AM

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