Axminster Roman Fort

Auxiliary Fort

Axminster Roman Fort was a fort and small town in the Roman province of Britannia. Its remains are located at Woodbury Farm, immediately south of Axminster in the English county of Devon.

The fort lies on the eastern flank of the Axe valley and survives as a square area, measuring 144 metres by 132 metres, enclosing an area of 1.9 hectares, defined by a ditch up to 18m wide and 1.6m deep. The ditch is visible around the entire circuit of the fort apart from the area in the immediate vicinity of Woodbury Farm where it has been infilled. The interior of the fort measures 144m north east to south west by 132m north west to south east, giving an area of 1.9ha. Within the fort two elongated mounds standing up to 0.3m high may represent building rubble. In the southern half of the fort slight ridges orientated approximately east to west represent the site of a former orchard.

Excavations carried out in the north east corner of the fort in 1981 revealed a number of early Roman features including a pond which had been deliberately backfilled in places with large quantities of rubbish including much third and fourth century Roman pottery. Finds from the excavation indicated possible 1st century military activity on the site, as well as considerable later Roman activity, including building(s) with hypocaust, tiled roof, and opus signinum flooring. Air photographic evidence suggested the presence of a courtyard building within the enclosure, possibly a mansio.

Further excavation and geophysical investigation was undertaken in 1990 and 1992 as part of work on the Axminster bypass and a water pipeline from Musbury to Axminster. This work supported the interpretation of the site as a fort of c.2ha (possibly double ditched) and suggested that there may be more than one phase of defensive circuit. Evidence was also retrieved for a substantial number of stone buildings within the enclosure, possibly a mansio (see SY 29 NE 47).