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Walled Roman Settlement of Bannovallum, Horncastle



Reference Name MLI43583

Name:
Walled Roman Settlement of Bannovallum, Horncastle

Summary:
The walled settlement dates from the late 4th century and parts of the wall are still standing. There is an earlier late Iron Age and Roman settlement to the south of the walled settlement.

Location:
HORNCASTLE, EAST LINDSEY, LINCOLNSHIRE

Description:
Bannovallum is recorded by the Ravenna Cosmographer and is a Celtic place-name meaning 'strong spur' or 'prominent place'. It might refer to either Horncastle or Caistor. If Horncastle, then it would refer to the spur of land between the rivers Waring and Bain where the walled enclosure stood. It is possible that the Bain may have taken its name by back-formation from Bannovallum, although 'Bain' is usually taken to be derived from the Old Norse adjective 'beinn' meaning 'straight'. {21}

It is worth noting that the first element of the name Horncastle is from the Anglo-Saxon word 'horn, horna' meaning 'peak' or 'horn'. This is a translation of the Celtic 'Banno'. Cameron thinks that this is hardly coincidental and that name Horncastle must have been given by people who knew the meaning of both words. {15}

There is some controversy over whether Horncastle really is Bannovallum. Bannovallum is listed in the 7th century Ravenna Cosmography. Stukeley, the 18th century antiquarian, first suggested that Bannovallum was Horncastle and this has been perpetuated by later writers. {9}

Remains of the Roman wall (scheduled monument number 44, a-h) of Bannovallum are to be seen in various parts of the town. The walls have lost their outer facing. In Red Lion Yard the outer coating of dressed stone is still standing. {2}

Excavations suggest that the site is not so much a town as a defended area and that the main town was to the south of the walled enclosure. Very little has been found inside the walls, which are the best-preserved stretches of Roman wall in Lincolnshire. The outer facing of the walls survives best between scheduled monument numbers 44 a-f, and nowhere is a complete width of wall surviving. In several places the wall survives to a height of approximately 3.5m and there are two bastions or turrets. {10}{11}

The walled enclosure is situated in the angle formed by the confluence of the River Waring and the River Bain. The wall is built in local Spilsby sandstone, probably from the quarry at Holbeck Manor, six kilometres to the north-east of Horncastle. It was used both as freestone in a mortar rubble core and as finely cut ashlar-facing on the inside of the wall. Parts of the wall are still standing and sections are scheduled. {1}{2}{3}

Parts of the wall, including a section to the rear of Bridge Street, a section to the south side of Church Walk, a section off St Lawrence Street and two sections at Manor House Street, are Listed. For the full description and the legal address of these listed buildings please refer to the appropriate List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. {22}

Although evidence (particularly from cemeteries with cremation urns) suggests an early Roman settlement in Horncastle, it was not until a date not earlier than the late third century that a walled enclosure of two hectares was constructed. It appears that this later settlement, or defended area, was approximately one kilometre north of the open settlement (see prn 43747) suggested by the numerous isolated finds recorded here. {1}

Prior to the development of the library, at TF 259 695, in 1968 a stretch of wall 18m long was visible to a height of 1.2 to 1.5 metres above ground level. Excavations revealed a v-shaped gully together with a post-hole pre-dating the wall. Pottery was found dating to the 2nd century. The foundation raft for the wall was no less than 5.5m in width. The building of the wall was combined with a rampart on the inside; a number of layers formed the bank, which was probably built up as the construction of the wall progressed. The maximum thickness of the wall is thought to be just over 4m. {16}

Excavations at TF 257 695, Manor House Paddock, revealed similar deposits making up the defences as had been revealed in 1968 at the library site. One corner of the wall was exposed, extending outwards and forming an irregular stump with a maximum width of 7 metres. This formed the foundation for a bastion. This bastion is similar to that at the north-eastern corner of the circuit. The inner face was rounded, which was common to those of a first or second century date and finished in a fine ashlar masonry. Pottery from the 4th century was recovered from the site. {8}{17}

Evaluation at Manor House Paddock confirmed the presence of a man-made ditch on the outer edge of the wall. Erosion on the other sides at the library and Manor House Paddock had made this ditch impossible to detect. Evaluations were carried out prior to the new health centre, TF 258 694, their aim was to try and confirm the presence of the ditch. The ditch was found and yielded fourth century pottery. There is no reason to suggest a post-Roman date for the ditch, and this indicates that the Roman wall was surrounded by a contemporary ditch.{18}

Evaluation on the north-east bastion of the Roman wall in Dog Kennel Yard at TF 259 696 showed a chalk foundation raft, curving out to accommodate the bastion. No facing stone remains and no pottery was found. {4}{19}

Excavations at 27 High Street TF 259 695 revealed the remains of what was possibly a Roman wooden building. A small number of roof tiles were found as well as animal remains and pottery. A metalled surface was also found although undated it is likely to have predated the walled settlement. {5}{20}{24}

Excavations in 1984 at Bridge Street TF 257 696 revealed detailed evidence for the construction of the Roman wall and confirmed its dating to the late third or early fourth century. The width of the rampart within the walls was 10m, therefore suggesting that the usable area within the walls was very small indeed. {6}{7}

Sources:
1 Article in Serial: Field, F.N. and Hurst, Henry. 1983. 'Roman Horncastle' in Lincolnshire History and Archaeology. vol. 18, pp.47-88
2 Scheduling Record: HBMC. 1985. AM 107. 44 /a-/h
3 Scheduling Record: HBMC. 1972. AM 7. -
4 Index: SMR. Sites and Monuments Record Card Index. TF 26 NE: AB, 1978, TMA
5 Index: SMR. Sites and Monuments Record Card Index. TF 26 NE: CG, 1978,TMA
6 Index: Ordnance Survey. Ordnance Survey Card Index. TF 26 NE: 1, 1965, Colquhoun, F.
7 Article in Serial: Page, A.B.. 1985. 'Archaeology in Lincolnshire and South Humberside, 1984' in Lincolnshire History and Archaeology. vol.20, p.69
8 Unpublished Document: Summary of weekends excavations at Horncastle. -
9 Leaflet: Horncastle Town Trail. -
10 Intervention Report: Lindsey Archaeological Services. 1996. Lindsey Court Enhancement Scheme. HLF96
11 Excavation Archive: Lindsey Archaeological Services. 1996. Lindsey Court Enhancement Scheme, Horncastle. LCNCC 104.96
12 Bibliographic Reference: WEIRS. HISTORY OF HORNCASTLE. -
13 Bibliographic Reference: Allen, Thomas. 1834. The history of the county of Lincoln, from the earliest period to the present time. -
14 Aerial Photograph: 1945-84. CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY COLLECTION. BT55,1948,
15 Bibliographic Reference: Cameron, K.. 1998. A Dictionary of Lincolnshire Place-Names. Horncastle
16 Article in Serial: Field, F.N. and Hurst, Henry. 1983. 'Roman Horncastle' in Lincolnshire History and Archaeology. vol. 18, pp.52-54
17 Article in Serial: Field, F.N. and Hurst, Henry. 1983. 'Roman Horncastle' in Lincolnshire History and Archaeology. vol. 18, pp.54-56
18 Article in Serial: Field, F.N. and Hurst, Henry. 1983. 'Roman Horncastle' in Lincolnshire History and Archaeology. vol. 18, pp.56-57
19 Article in Serial: Field, F.N. and Hurst, Henry. 1983. 'Roman Horncastle' in Lincolnshire History and Archaeology. vol. 18, pp.57-59
20 Article in Serial: Field, F.N. and Hurst, Henry. 1983. 'Roman Horncastle' in Lincolnshire History and Archaeology. vol. 18, pp.59-62
21 Bibliographic Reference: RIVET, A.L.F. AND SMITH, C.. 1979. PLACE-NAMES OF ROMAN BRITAIN. Bannovalium, pp.265-66
22 Index: Department of the Environment. 1987. List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. 6/15; 233.007: 6/34; 233.029: 6/52; 233.062: 6/53; 233.063: 6/89; 233.110
23 Intervention Report: QuBE Planning Ltd.. 2008. Horncastle Conservation Area Appraisal. -
24 Article in Serial: White, A. J.. 1979. 'Archaeology in Lincolnshire and South Humberside, 1978' in Lincolnshire History and Archaeology. vol.14, p.69

Links:
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The following reports are available from the ADS digital library.
10 Intervention Report: Lindsey Archaeological Services. 1996. Lindsey Court Enhancement Scheme. HLF96

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Last updated: 05-December-2017 13:50:46

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