The Roman Fort at Ixworth was probably built in response to the Boudiccan revolt and was only in use till the end of the 1st century AD. A civilian settlement (possible Roman Small Town) then took over the site. The remains of a water tower were also discovered. All archaeological features beneath the road, including the remains of the water tower, are presumed to have been destroyed by the construction of this road.

Three ditches outline the east and south sides and rounded south-east angle of an enclosure, which can hardly be other than a Roman fort. The visible portion of the east side is about 500 ft. long, of the south side about 450 ft., while there are faint indications that the full length of that side may have been as much as 625 ft. An east gate is visible some 250 ft. north of the angle, and there may also be a south gate. A road system is related to these gates, but it is not clear from photographs whether all the system is original or whether in part it represents the former course of lanes which cross the site. Ixworth became an important junction in the Roman road system of East Anglia.

Other Roman Sites Nearby

There are villas nearby at Stanton Chare (TL9574) to the north, and Great Barton (TL9069) to the south-west. Other substantial Roman buildings and pottery kilns lie along the road to the south-east towards Combretovium (Baylham House).

Classical References to Ixworth  Roman Fort

In the Antonine Itinerary of the second century, Iter IX is entitled “The Route from Venta Icinorum to Londinium,” and the first entry is a station named Sitomagus, which is reputedly located 32 miles from Venta Icenorum (Caistor St. Edmund, Norfolk), and 22 miles from Combretovium (Baylham House, Suffolk). Three Roman roads are known to leave Caistor in the general direction of London; the direct route through to Baylham House via Scole would appear to be too short, so the Ninth Itinerary probably took a ‘dog-leg’, either eastwards to the coast via Saxmundham or westwards along the ‘Peddlar’s Way’ through Ixworth. Each of these two sites lie approximately the required number of miles from both Caistor and Baylam House, although of the two, Ixworth is more likely to have been given a reference in the Itinerary, being the focus of several known or suspect Roman roads (vide supra).

The 11th century Peutinger Table also covers this same stretch of road, and thus we find the entry Sinomagi, 22 miles from Caistor St. Edmund though this time a mere 15 miles from Baylham House. There are clearly a couple of discrepancies here, the most obvious of them being due to a Roman numeral X being truncated from the beginning of the first mileage entry. The second erroneous distance measure, the translation of the 22 miles between the Sinomagus and Combretovium entries in the Itinerary to a mere 15 miles in the Peutinger Table (numerals XXII to XV), is a bit more difficult to explain, though may have been caused by a sequence of scribal errors. This possibly started with the simple truncation of an X from the front of the numeral, though this was later followed by a more complex alteration. The original truncation error was possibly detected by a second copyist who perhaps realized that the distance between the two entries depicted on the map was too short, and changed the trailing numerals II to V under the assumption that this was the cause of the original error. This scenario is tentative, but at least explains the facts.

The Roman name Sitomagus seems to be purely Latin in form, from the words situs ‘situation, site, structure’, and magus ‘wise man, magician’ or magister ‘master, chief’; the name being rendered in English something along the lines ‘The Site of the Chieftain’.

Map References for Ixworth Roman Fort

OS National Grid Reference: TL932698
Dimensions: c.625? x 500 ft (c.190? x 152 m)
Area: c.7 acres (c.2.9 ha)

References for Ixworth Roman Fort

  • Historical Map and Guide – Roman Britain by the Ordnance Survey (3rd, 4th & 5th eds., 1956, 1994 & 2001);
  • Air Reconnaissance of Southern Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. XLIII (1953) pp.81-97; 

Roman Roads near Ixworth Roman Fort

Peddlars Way?: SSE (30) to Camulodunum (Colchester, Essex) S (30) to Camvlodvnvm Trinovantvm Iter IX?: SE (22) to Combretovium (Baylham House, Suffolk) Peddlars Way: NNW (18) to Saham Toney Peddlars Way: NNW (8) to Thetford Itinera V?/IX?: NE (28) to Venta Icenorum (Caistor St. Edmund, Norfolk) W (9) to Camboritvm Probable road: E (7) to Wattisfield (Suffolk) SSW (17) to Long Melford (Suffolk)

Sites near Ixworth Roman Fort