High Cross (Venonis) Roman Fort

Flavian Auxiliary Fort (AD 69–96) and Minor Settlement

The settlement near High Cross or Wigston lay about the intersection of Watling Street and the Fosse Way, extending at least 455m to south-east and 60m to north-west of the intersection. How far the settlement extended along the Fosse Way is unknown. Excavations on the south side of Watling Street revealed the post holes, gullies and slots of timber buildings. No complete building plan was uncovered. Also found were hearths, pits and gravel yard surfaces. Earliest pottery was Flavian (c. 69-96 AD), and the latest coin finds were of the House of Valentinian (c. 364-378 AD).

A small Roman fort lay less than a mile to the north-west of the settlement at Wigston Parva. The Watling Street was later built across its site.

Classical references to Venonis Settlement

The only classical reference which mentions the name of this Romano-British settlement on the Watling Street is the Antonine Itinerary of the late-second century. This list of Roman routes across the empire contains fifteen routes within Britain, three of which pass through the settlement:

  • Iter II, the route from Hadrian’s Wall to Richborough in Kent, as Venonis, 12 miles from Manduessedum (Mancetter, Warwickshire) and 17 miles from Bannaventa (Whilton Lodge, Northhamptonshire).
  • Iter VI, the route from London to Lincoln, again as Venonis, 8 miles from Tripontium (Cave’s Inn, Warwickshire) and 12 miles from Ratae (Leicester, Leicestershire).
  • Iter VIII, the route from York to London, once more as Venonis, again 12 miles from Leicester, though this time 18 miles from Whilton Lodge.

The Wigston Parva Fort

Discovered from the air by J.K. St. Joseph (in 1968?), this small fort of just 2 acres (c.0.81 ha) lies astride the Watling street about ¾ mile (c.1.2 km) north-west of the Venonis settlement (at N.G.Ref.: SP464894). The defences consisted of a turf-revetted rampart 10 feet (3.1m) wide, fronted by a V-profile ditch 8 feet (2.4m) wide and 4 feet (1.2m) deep. These features were levelled after a short period of use when the Watling Street was later built across the site. The fort had timber gateways in the middle of the NW and SE sides, and apparently faced towards the NW. The 1969/70 excavations in the fort’s interior revealed parts of a barrack-block, the cobbled surface of the intervallum road, also a water-tank near the eastern corner-angle.

References for Venonis

  • Britannia ii (1971) p.258.

Roman Roads near Venonis

Fosse Way: SSW (21) to Chesterton On Fosse Watling Street: WNW (10) to Mandvessedvm Fosse Way: NE (12) to Ratae (Leicester, Leicestershire) Watling Street: SSE (7) to Tripontivm

Sites near High Cross (Venonis) Roman Fort