Industry, Pottery and Tile Kiln
The Legionary Tile Works
A large legionary tile and pottery factory, run presumably by men of the Twentieth Legion, has been examined at Holt in Denbighshire, which includes, as well as workshops, barracks and a bath-house for the legionary craftsmen.” (Birley, p.129)
It is thought that the pottery and tile kilns unearthed here represent the main legionary pottery works of Legio XX Valeria Victrix who were housed in the legionary fortress at Deva (Chester, Cheshire), about seven miles to the north. The military tilery here produced various wares, such as flat hypocaust tiles to support underfloor heating and box-flue tiles for conducting the central-heating gases in bath-houses, also imbrex and tegula roofing tiles and roof antefixes. Many of these products were stamped LEG XX V V “[Property of] the Twentieth Legion Valeria Victrix“, while others also sported the Legion’s boar emblem.
During excavations over the years at the Holt tilery a number of animal bones have been uncovered, including those of Ox, Sheep, Pig, Red Deer and Boar; the latter two animals very likely being hunted and killed for sport. In addition, shellfish such as Oysters, Mussels and Swan Mussel were part of the soldiers’ diet, also Edible Snails.
The main road from Mediolanum (Whitchurch, Cheshire) to Chester runs for 20 miles north-north-west via the settlement at Bovium (Tilston), about half way between the two. The Holt potteries lie some two miles from this road on the suspected route of a branch road running west from Bovium to the fort at Ffridd. It is probable that another road or track directly connected the Holt potteries with the crossing of the Dee at Heronbridge, without the need for a ‘dog-leg’ via Tilston.
RIB443 - Fragmentary building stone
RIB441 - Centurial stone of Rufius Sabinus
RIB442 - Fragmentary dedication
References for Holt
- The Roman Military Diet by R.W. Davies, in Britannia ii (1971) pp.122-142);
- Life in Roman Britain by Anthony Birley (London 1964);
- The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965);
- A Pottery and Tilery of the Twentieth Legion at Holt by W. Grimes in the Cymmrodorian Society Transactions vol.XLI (Cardiff 1930).
- The Roman Military Diet by R.W. Davies, in Britannia ii (1971) pp.122-142); Life in Roman Britain by Anthony Birley (London 1964);
Map References for Holt
NGRef: SJ4054 OSMap: LR117