Minor Settlement

Nearby villa 2 miles north-west at Cotterstock (TL0390).

Ashton Roman settlement lies to the east of the River Nene and around the north, east and west of the former Oundle Station. The settlement is located roughly midway between Durobrivae, the largest small town in Roman Britain, and Titchmarsh.

The monument is evident as a complex series of cropmarks covering a number of fields in an area of approximately 15ha. The settlement has been the subject of two systematic field surveys, extensive excavations along the route of the A605, and has good aerial photographic coverage. Collectively this evidence provides considerable information about the form and function of the settlement.

Ashton Roman Settlement dates from the mid to late C1 AD when a system of rectangular ditched enclosures and associated drove ways was laid out running north east to south west towards the river. . The main axial route appears to lead to a crossing of the River Nene but the absence of significant archaeological investigation along the flood plain to date means there is as yet no evidence for the crossing itself.

The nature of the settlement around the roadways changes over time. In the first century the settlement pattern is unclear with only two round houses having been identified. In the second century however a number of rectangular stone buildings were built and the settlement appears more densely occupied. During the course of the mid-second century and mid-third century, construction of a series of stone founded strip buildings gradually filled the road frontage with simple shops, workshops and houses particularly associated with iron smithing. Towards the southern fringe of the settlement a series of enclosures probably defined small agricultural plots, quarrying areas and stock yards.

During the 4th century the road side plots became important foci for a range of inhumation-based burial traditions both along boundaries and in a formal cemetery. Evidence from the burial ground indicates it was home to a significant Christian community in the later 4th century. Evidence for craft production and the study of trade is abundant at Ashton. There is evidence of small scale pottery production towards the western fringe of the town but a more significant element in the town’s economy was iron smithing with clear evidence in the form of an anvil, hammers, chisel, secondary furnaces and much hammer scale from a number of buildings along the road front. Most of this evidence appears to be late second to 4th century AD.

Occupation continued into the early 5th century but the absence of early Middle Saxon material from anywhere within the settlement suggests that the small town was soon abandoned after the end of Roman rule, possibly to a new location across the river at Oundle where Early to Middle Saxon activity is recorded, and which appears to have functioned as an administrative centre in the Middle Saxon period. All modern fences, path surfaces and roads are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath all these features is included.

Map References for Ashton

NGRef: TL0489 OSMap: LR141

Roman Roads near Ashton

NNE (7) to Dvrobrivae Catvvellorvm (Water Newton, Cambridgeshire) SW (6) to Thrapston (Northamptonshire)