The Roman settlement of Lactodurum was situated astride Watling Street just north of its junction with the road from Alcester in the south-west, and underlies the present town of Towcester in Northamptonshire. Located in a broad bend of the River Tove on its southern bank, the settlement’s defences enclosed an area of c.11.25 hectares, and lay c/200m to the south-west of the river crossing; access to the north-western bank was achieved via a ford. Evidence for extra-mural settlement has been found outside the towns north-west gate and on both sides of Watling Street close to the river crossing, and also to the south-east to either side of Watling Street in the area between the defences and the Alcester road junction.
Excavation within the defended enclosure has shown that the town was first settled in the middle of the first century and continued to be occupied until the present day, although Roman occupation ended in the fifth century. First century occupation is represented by timber houses with clay walls and cobbled streets, these were replaced by the second century with buildings having stone foundations and mortared floors, and by the third century some houses had Bath-stone colonnades and tessalated pavements, this town was obviously very prosperous. Most of the extra-mural settlement has been dated to the fourth century. The towns defensive circuit has been dated to c.180AD, and consisted of the usual arrangement of external ditches and an internal rampart, though is is possible that the exterior masonry rampart wall was not added until the end of the third century.
A comprehensive survey of the Roman settlement’s archaeology has been published by the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments (RCHM).
“[Property of] the Twentieth Legion, Valiant and Victorius.”
References for Lactodvrvm
Roadside Settlements in Lowland Roman Britain by Roger Finch Smith (B.A.R. British Series #157, 1987) pp.220-222; The Romans in Britain – An Anthology of Inscriptions by A.R. Burn (Blackwell, Oxford, 1969).
Roman Roads near Lactodvrvm
SSW (20) to Alchester (Oxfordshire) Watling Street: NNW (11) to Bannaventa Possible road: NNE (8) to Dvston Possible road: NE (20) to Irchester Watling Street: SE (17) to Magiovinivm Watling Street: SE (8.5) to Stony Stratford