Bagendon Settlement

Iron Age Settlement and Settlement

Bagendon represents the most impressive of the late Iron-Age sites. A large dyke system encompassed an area of between 80 and 200 ha and represents a ‘territorial oppidum’ similar to those at Colchester and Verulamium. This was a kind of oppidum found in southern Britain that dates to the late 1st century BC and early 1st century AD, comprising a collection of farmsteads, field systems, and semi‐urbanized nucleated settlements of various sorts scattered across a large area of ground, typically between 30 and 90 square kilometres, bounded by a series of substantial earthworks known as dykes. Bagendon was constructed probably in the 1st century AD with a flourish of activity in the immediate post-conquest period.Bagendon  has nine dykes (one of them known from excavation to be contemporary with the settlement), several lesser ditches, undated enclosures, and burials.

As the architecture of the Bagendon site could not be described remotely as ‘defensive’, Bagendon has now thought to be an ancient settlement and the Capital of the Dobunni.

Capital of the Dobunni

Only limited investigation has taken place in the interior and has revealed an industrial area at the entrance including coin minting. Both sites indicate high-status occupation in the early 1st century AD, with imported Gallo-Belgic and samian pottery. The subsequent building of an exceptionally early villa at Ditches in the late 1st century AD further indicates the inhabitants’ high status and rapid adoption of Romanized lifestyles. Claiming sites like Bagendon as ‘urban’  is clearly incorrect as most of the interior appears not to have been intensively occupied. Instead the evidence represents a more scattered set of activities rather than one single centre. The apparent high-status nature of the finds from the site has led it to be variously regarded as a royal centre or ‘park’. However, it seems likely that Bagendon performed a variety of roles as well as possibly being the centre for new elites.