Newton Kyme Roman Fort

Vexillation Fort

The Roman site at Newton Kyme lies on the south bank of the River Wharfe, just east of the spot where the Roman Road from Lincoln (Colonia Lindum) to Aldborough (Margary #280) forded the stream. The defences of the encampm consists of a rampart of light clay fronted by one broad ditch and perhaps two narrow ditches. The fort platform, measuring about 750 feet from north to south by around 600 feet transversely (c.228 x 183 m), is easily visible in a single field above the river Wharfe, the ploughed-out ditches together forming a single hollow perhaps 4 feet deep. The ditches are interrupted for a gateway in the centre of the southern rampart (JRS 1953 p.88).

The size of the enclosure is far larger than is necessary to house any one auxiliary unit, and possibly points to there being a legionary garrison present, very likely a mixed contingent of legionary cohorts and auxiliary cavalry united under a single flag or vexillio. This would mean that the Newton Kyme site would be more accurately classified as a ‘Vexillation Fortress’ or campaign camp, like others at Rossington Bridge and Newton on Trent, and would also point to an early foundation date.

Other Roman Sites in the Neighbourhood

The ditch of one of the southern enclosures observed on the aerial photographs appears to underlie the south-western corner-angle of the fortress, if this is so, and only excavation will tell, the ditch possibly represents the defences of a temporary marching camp predating the fortress itself. A.P.’s also show a triple-ditched circular enclosure measuring some 50 feet (c.15 m) in diameter, lying about 500 feet (c.152 m) outside the south-east angle of the fort (JRS 1953 p.88). The current (2001) O.S. Map of Roman Britain shows a couple of Roman burials and some form of military encampment or practice-work in the area of the Newton Kyme fortress, but does not disclose any details; the circular enclosure on A.P.’s probably accounts for one of the burials, however, and the presence of a marching camp seems to be confirmed.

Aside from the larger Roman town at Tadcaster which grew about the crossing of the Wharfe by the road to York (Margary #28c) about 2 miles to the south-east, and possibly succeeded the small vicus settlement here at Newton Kyme, there is also a Romano-British villa about three miles to the west at Dalton Parlours (SE4044).

References for Newton Kyme

  • Roman Roads in Britain : Volume II North of the Foss Way – Bristol Channel by Ivan D. Margary (London 1957);
  • Historical Map and Guide – Roman Britain by the Ordnance Survey (3rd, 4th & 5th eds., 1956, 1994 & 2001);
  • Air Reconnaissance in Britain, 1951-5 by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xlv (1956) pp.82-91;
  • Air Reconnaissance of Southern Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xliii (1953) pp.81-97; 

Map References for Newton Kyme

NGRef: SE4545 OSMap: LR105

OS National Grid Reference: SE456454
Dimensions: c.750 x 600 ft (c.228 x 183 m)
Area: c.10¼ acres (c.4.2 ha)

Roman Roads near Newton Kyme

W (9) to Adel (West Yorkshire) ESE (2) to Calcaria (Tadcaster, North Yorkshire) SW (28) to Cambodvnvm (Slack, West Yorkshire) Rudgate: N (14) to Isvrivm (Aldborough, North Yorkshire) Roman Ridge: S (13) to Lagentivm (Castleford, West Yorkshire)

Sites near Newton Kyme Roman Fort