Alfoldean

Mansio and Minor Settlement

The site of the Roman settlement at Alfodean. The site survives as an earthwork rectilinear enclosure positioned across the Roman Road of Stane Street, now the A29, and covers over 9 hectares. Partial excavation and geophysical survey have identified an extensive complex of archaeological features including settlement remains, mansio (Roman coaching Inn), pits, field systems, trackways and evidence for workshops.

North of the mansio enclosure are the remains of a Roman bridge, under the modern Alfoldean Bridge, which carried Stane Street over the River Arun. A series of anchoring piles have been identified on the north and south sides of the river.

Archaeological Investigations

The site had been investigated in the early part of the 20th century by Samuel Winbolt, who exposed parts of a mansio (Roman coaching Inn) building and attempted to define the associated strip settlement along Stane Street to the south.

Time Team investigated the site in 2005 by excavation and geophysical survey.

Alfoldean Mansio

The geophysical survey identified the outline of the bank and ditch enclosure surrounding the mansio complex, some of the mansio walls, and elements of the strip settlement including field systems, trackways, pits, and areas of possible industrial activity.

Ditches and trackways were largely aligned on Stane Street, and the focus of the settlement appeared to lie on the eastern side of the Roman road. The mansio and surrounding enclosure appear to have been constructed some time in the later first century AD, with occupation into the 3rd century AD, as well as sporadic later activity. When the mansio complex fell out of use remains unclear. Post-Roman agricultural practices have impacted on the underlying archaeology, with plough scars and land drains recorded in several areas.

The site of the mansio is surrounded by a rectilinear enclosure, which lies across the course of Stane Street, now built over by the modern A29 roadway. Stane Street was the major south west-north-east aligned Roman road that linked the regional capital of Noviomagus Regnensium (Chichester) to Londinium (London).

The mansio enclosure is denoted by a bank and external ditch. A survey in the late 20th century showed that it survived to the east, south and west, though having been part-levelled by ploughing. On the west side, where it was best preserved, the rampart was 15m wide and 0.2m high, and the ditch was 20m wide and up to 0.8m deep. Partial excavation was carried out on the site in 1922-3, 1934-5, 1983 and in 2005. These showed that the mansio enclosure measures 94m north-south by 107m east-west. The foundations of buildings, floors and debris were recovered, along with Roman objects and pottery, indicating a period of occupation of between about AD 100 and AD 375. The mansio is thought to be based on a courtyard plan.

Sites near to Alfoldean

There is a tile-kiln about three miles to the south-east at Itchingfield (TQ1429).

The iron-mine at Broadfield (TQ2634) about nine miles to the east, marks the western edge of the Roman iron-mining district in the Weald of Sussex.

Roman Roads near Alfoldean

NW (7) to Farley Heath Stane Street: NNE (20) to Ewell (Surrey) Stane Street: SSW (12) to Hardham (West Sussex)