It is probable that the a Roman ‘Small Town’ was established at Wixoe in the mid or late 1st century AD and its disuse seems to have been in the very early 5th century. The reasons for its establishment lies in that stratigraphic location of Wixoe being at the junction of a major river, the Stour, and on the route of at least two major Roman Roads, one running from Leicester, through Cambridge to Wixoe and then to Colchester and a second probable road from Great Chesterford to Wixoe and then Long Melford.

The course of the Via Devana crossed the road between Long Melford and Great Chesterford, to the east of the River Stour in the area of Wixoe, where substantial Roman remains have been found; another road led due east to Long Melford continuing to Baylham House (see Margary).

Aerial photographs of the area show numerous pits, grouped together into subrectangular blocks, and surface finds of Roman material have been reported. On the western bank of the Stour, a rectangular earthwork measuring some 380 by 450 metres, lies on the suspected line of the Via Devana, the main Colchester to Cambridge road. Destroyed in the eighteenth century, when the foundations of several stone buildings were found, though no Roman remains were reported; it probably represented an early Roman permanent fort. (Finch-Smith, p.167.)

Shortly after the Second World War the remains of a probable Romano-British villa was discovered from the air by prof. St. Joseph in a quarry close by the main settlement at Wixoe; the quarry-pits and side ditches of a connecting road were also recorded on the aerial photographs but it was apparent that the main buildings on the site had already been destroyed by quarrying (JRS 1953 p.94).

Extensive fieldwalking and metal detecting surveys in the general area had generated over 4,000 Roman coins.

Other substantial Roman buildings have been found at Kedington (TL7047), a little to the north, and a villa is known along the course of the Via Devana south-east at Ridgewell in Essex (TL7340). A number of substantial Romano-British buildings have been found in the immediate area of Haverhill (TL7043/TL7047), at Wixoe and Kedlington, and may constitute the remains of a settlement on the major road from Colchester to the north-west. The nearby villa about 4 miles (c.6.5 km) to the south-east at Ridgewell in Essex (TL7340), lies close to the probable route into Colchester, while to the north-west the road to Cambridge is littered with other Roman remains; substantial buildings at Ashdon (TL5743) and Bartlow (TL5844), a villa at Hadstock (TL5746), and Romano-British barrows at Hildersham (TL5448) and Bartlow Hills (TL5844), all in Essex. (O.S.)

References for Wixoe

  • Historical Map and Guide – Roman Britain by the Ordnance Survey (3rd, 4th & 5th eds., 1956, 1994 & 2001);
  • Roadside Settlements in Lowland Roman Britain by Roger Finch Smith (B.A.R. British Series #157, 1987);
  • Roman Roads in Britain : Volume I South of the Foss Way – Bristol Channel by Ivan D. Margary (London 1955);
  • Air Reconnaissance of Southern Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xliii (1953) pp.81-97; 

Roman Roads near Wixoe

Via Devana: ESE (21) to Camulodunum (Colchester, Essex) Via Devana?: SSE (21) to Camvlodvnvm Trinovantvm Possible road: W (13) to Great Chesterford E (9) to Long Melford (Suffolk) Via Devana: NW (20) to Dvroliponte (Cambridge, Cambridgeshire)

Sites near Wixoe