Fortlet and Roman Town
Beside the Fosse, west of Thorpe (East Stoke) [36 VCH Nottinghamshire II, 1910, 35; JRS XXV, 1935, 210; XXIX, 1939, 206] (SK 759503) and 3¼ miles south-west of Newark, a system of ditches has been recorded, that forms nearly 600 ft. of the south-east and over 300 ft. of the north – east sides of a rectangular enclosure: on the south-east there are four ditches that occupy a combined width of 100 ft. In the adjacent field to the north are less regular ditched compounds. The rectangular enclosure is aligned not to the modern highway but to an earlier road with side-ditches, probably the Roman road itself, that lies further to the south-east. This seems to be another example of a small fortified town, and is probably to be equated with Ad Pontem, which considerations of spacing show must lie about here. …” (J.R.S., 1953, p.91)
Ad Pontem – The Place at the Bridges
The Antonine Itinerary of the late-second century is the only classical geography that gives the Roman name for this station on the Fosse Way. The Sixth Itinerary in the British portion of this document is entitled “the route from London to Lincoln”, wherein the station named Ad Pontem, is listed 7 miles from both Margidunum (Castle Hill, Nottinghamshire) and Crococalana (Brough, Nottinghamshire).
The name Ad Pontem means “[the place] near the bridges”, which probably alludes to a crossing over the Trent near Fiskerton at the western end of an ancient trackway which intersected the Fosse Way just to the north-east of the settlement. This trackway arrived from the direction of the villa at Denton in south-south-east, and crossed the Trent evidently by means of some sort of ancient bridge, possibly erected a considerable time before the Romans arrived in the area. The trackway then continued northwards on the opposite side of the River Trent, towards the territory of the Brigante tribe and their capital at Isurium Brigantum (Aldborough, Yorkshire).
The Roman Military Camp
A small military encampment with at least two occupation periods was originally identified on aerial photographs by Prof. St. Joseph in the late-1950’s, and confirmed by excavations conducted by John Wacher in the mid-1960’s; unfortunately, no dateable material has been unearthed on the site but the situation suggests an early Claudian establishment (JRS 1953 p.91; Webster, p.162 & map vi p.121). The camp, a small fort or fortlet enclosing an area of about 1¼ acres (c.0.5 ha) within a rampart and double-ditch defensive system about 230 feet (c.70 m) square, is situated in the field named ‘Wharf Close’ to south-west of the site of the civil settlement; traces of former Iron-Age occupation were found sealed beneath the Roman rampart (Finch-Smith p.284).
The Settlement ‘at the Bridges’
Although scattered surface finds have been recorded over an area in excess of 30½ acres (c.12.4 ha), a polygonal defended enclosure in the field known as ‘Odd House Close’, covered a maximum area of about 5¼ acres (c.2.1 ha), and was crossed by the Fosse Way from south-west to north-east; finds from excavations conducted by Oswald in the early-1930’s and Inskeep in the mid-1960’s were meagre but showed that occupation lasted from the late-1st century A.D. until at least the 4th (Finch-Smith pp.284-5).
Other Roman Sites in the Neighbourhood
There is a Roman vexillation fortress about seven miles to the north-west at Osmanthorpe (SK6756), a Romano-British villa four miles to the north-west at Southwell (SK7053), and another villa about six miles due west at Wood Meadow (SK6749).
References for Ad Pontem
- The Roman Invasion of Britain by Graham Webster (Batsford, London, 1993);
- Roadside Settlements in Lowland Roman Britain by Roger Finch Smith (B.A.R. British Series #157, 1987);
- Air Reconnaissance of Southern Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xliii (1953) pp.81-97;
Map References for Ad Pontem
NGRef: SK7550 OSMap: LR120