The site at Tiverton (Devon) was first recognized on RAF vertical photographs as a soil-mark just north of the town (SX 956143), where the narrow steep-sided valley of the Exe first opens out into a broader, if only temporary, plain.

The fort consists of a rectangular single-ditched enclosure with rounded corners, measuring 100 m by perhaps 135 m; but the south end could not be detected. Excavation and survey established that the fort was 1.4 hectares in area.

A single entrance was visible on the west side; excavation of the butt end of the ditch south of the causeway found enough pottery to suggest a more permanent work than a temporary camp and to date it provisionally to the mid-first century.

Excavation of the West gate demonstrated two phases, of which the Phase I gate had 4-post twin towers, these being replaced in Phase II by a simple gate without towers. Both phases belong to the third quarter of the 1st century. The whole causeway was 10.6 metres wide, the rampart being 6 metres wide. Subsequent to its discovery a sherd of samian ware was picked up from the site. A small-scale excavation was undertaken in 1981 on the southern defences, which were not visible on the air photographs. A ‘V’ shaped ditch circa 3 metres wide and 1.2 metres deep was located. Between 6 metres and 8 metres to the north of this was a concentration of Roman pottery. In 1982 the western entrance, visible on air photographs, was located on the ground and the butt-end of the ditch on the south side of the entrance was exposed. A section was cut across the western defences just to the south of the entrance causeway. A not inconsiderable quantity of pottery – samian, amphora and coarse wares – and part of a roof-tile were retrieved from the ditch fill. The date of this material was consistent with a mid-first century A.D. context for the site.

The site lies roughly midway between the forts of Exeter and Wiveliscombe, assuming a route up the Exe Valley and to the south of the Brendon Hills. Cropmarks resembling a fortlet were seen immediately south of the recorded fort.

Like the fort at Wiveliscombe (Somerset) 18 km to the north-east, this new discovery is sited immediately outside the belt of hills that fringes the Exmoor plateau.

References for Tiverton

  • Air Reconnaissance in Roman Britain 1977-1984 by G.S. Maxwell & D.R. Wilson in Britannia xviii (1987) pp.2/3.

Map References for Tiverton

NGRef: SS9514 OSMap: LR181

Roman Roads near Tiverton

None identified

Sites near Tiverton Roman Fort