Fort, Mansio, Roman Burg and Signal Station
The Roman Settlement of Uxacona
The Roman name for this particular part of the world is recorded in a single classical source, the Antonine Itinerary produced in the mid-2nd century, which lists among the road-stations along Iter II, the route “from the Wall [of Hadrian] to the port of Rutupiae”, a station named Uxacona, located on Watling Street some 11 miles from Urioconio (Wroxeter, Shropshire) and 12 miles from Pennocrucio (Water Eaton, Staffordshire).
The Antonine settlement of Uxacona has been readily identified with a small, univallate enclosure on the summit of Redhill in Shropshire. The site lies at the highest point of the Watling Street Roman road, at 614 feet above O.D. (c.187 m), which neatly bisects the site from east to west. This fortified settlement, which was at first thought to be a temporary camp, measures 200 feet from north-south by 175 feet east-west (c.61 x 53 m), thus enclosing an area of only ¾-acre (c.0.3 ha).
Substantial amounts of 3rd-Century pottery and a few pieces of 2nd-Century ware, found within the enclosure suggest that the settlement here was started during the late-2nd century, and was firmly established by the mid-3rd. The gatehouses of local red-sandstone were built in the late-2nd century, followed by a defensive wall with foundations of the same material 14 feet wide (c. m), which encircled the pre-existing settlement. This rampart was later surrounded by a U-shaped ditch, 10½ feet wide and 6 feet deep (c.3.2 x 1.8 m), further fortifying the site in the 4th century, when it became classed as a burg or a heavily fortified town, many of which sprang up along Watling Street to the west at Water Eaton and Wall in Staffordshire and Mancetter in Warwickshire (among others).
The Roman Fort and Signal Station
Two overlapping rectangular enclosures lie 900 feet to the north-west of the Uxacona settlement, and mark the site of two auxiliary forts of different periods (JRS 1953 p.84; 1961 p.123; 1965 p.84):
The larger fort measures 360 feet from east to west by between 330 to 500 feet north-south (c.110 x 101-152 m), enclosing an area of between 2¾ to 4¼ acres (c.1.1 to 1.7 ha). This larger work encloses in part the defences of the smaller camp within its own univallate defences. This first fortification was a large, univallate enclosure having a ditch with a typical V-shaped Roman military profile about 13¾ feet wide and 7¼ feet deep (c.4.2 x 2.2 m). A timber and clay revetted rampart stood upon the inner lip of the ditch before being dismantled. No traces of any substantial timber structures remain within its boundaries.
A smaller enclosure was built within the boundaries of the dismantled camp sometime during the late-1st century. This small fort measures 325 feet from north to south by 230 feet east-west (c.99 x 70 m), enclosing an area of almost 1¾ acres (c.0.7 ha) within a single ditch of military profile 6½ feet wide and 3¼ feet deep (c.2 x 1 m). Because of the small size of this structure, it has been suggested that it served the function of a military signal station, but it is rather too big to have just served in this role, and perhaps should best be regarded as a small fort or fortlet.
Other Roman Sites in the Neighbourhood
Very likely the first Roman presence in the area was the larger of two temporary camps at Burlington (SJ7811), about three miles to the east along Watling street.
References for Vxacona
- Air Reconnaissance of Southern Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xliii (1953) pp.81-97;
- Air Reconnaissance in Britain, 1958-1960 by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. li (1961) pp.119-135;
- Air Reconnaissance in Britain, 1961-1964 by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. lv (1965) pp.74-89;
Roman Roads near Vxacona
Watling Street/Iter II: E (4) to Bvrlington Possible road: SSE (16) to Greensforge (South Staffordshire) Watling Street: E (11) to Pennocrvcivm (Water Eaton, South Staffordshire) Watling Street (Iter II): W (12) to Viroconivm