Mount Batten

Port and Roman Settlement

Mount Batten is a 24-metre (80-ft) tall outcrop of rock on a 600-metre (2000-ft) peninsula in Plymouth Sound, Devon. It is a prehistoric and Romano-British settlement and port. The area includes an extensive midden deposit of later Bronze Age to Iron Age date, Roman occupation deposits.

The Mount Batten headland has been identified by Professor Cunliffe as a major port and commercial trading centre during the late prehistoric period which survived as a coastal port into Roman times. A series of excavations and evaluations over the years has revealed an area of deposits associated with settlement and indicating a continuity in the use of the site from the Late Bronze Age into the Romano-British period.

The promontory of Belerion has traditionally been interpreted as Cornwall and Ictis as Mount Batten on Plymouth Sound (Cunliffe, 2005: 430).

The character of the deposits is that of a midden formed of a stratified sequence of layers of refuse in which were found animal bones and significant quantities of marine mollusc shells, as well as pottery sherds and metalwork representative of the Late Bronze Age period. A collection of Celtic coins of the first part of the first century BC was also recovered although the Late Iron Age occupation is less precisely defined in the upper levels of the midden.

The latest prehistoric deposits were further sealed by turf and soil accumulated during a period of Roman occupation which extended at least into the early third century AD.

“In Britain the inhabitants of the promontory called Belerion are particularly friendly to strangers and have become civilised through contacts with merchants from foreign parts…” (Diodorus Siculus, v,22)