Roman remains (Duston)

It shouldn't surprise us that the Romans have left many marks of their occupation on Northamptonshire, when we remember that two of their chief roads, Watling Street and Ermine Street, crossed it, one at each end. Just after 44AD when the Romans invaded, a settlement and possible fortress was formed in an area of Duston, next to Sixfields and stretching as far out as Wootton and up to the Thorpelands estate. This settlement was detected in the 1800's by the discovery of pottery, coins and bones from a Roman cemetery. In the early years of 1900, from 1903 to 1908, various Roman findings came to light, including a lead coffin, a Roman well and followed by a Roman mausoleum.

The remains discovered at Castor are so extensive that without doubt a considerable Roman town once existed there. The foundations of the buildings are still in existence, and it is possible to distinguish houses of different types, as well as pottery works. At Irchester there are indications that a Roman village once existed there. Pieces of sculpture,a tombstone, bronze vessels, tools, etc. have been dug up. It's possible to trace roughly the shape of the camp, which was surrounded by a stone wall 8 feet thick.

A Roman camp situated on Watling Street at Towcester has been identified as Lactodorum. Ramparts have been traced which probably once formed the boundaries of the settlement. An important villa at Apethorpe, mosaics at Cotterstock, a villa at Great Weldon, Roman bricks in the walls of the Saxon church at Brixworth, villas at Daventry and Whittlebury, all point to Northamptonshire as being favoured by the Romans. The largest Roman camp in Britain is reputed to be at Borough hill, Daventry.

At Duston, a silver bowl has been found which is believed to have formed part of a water clock. The findings did not stop there. As recently as 1970, a mosaic was discovered. From the Roman mausoleum was a coffin made from Barnack limestone. Because of it's size and weight, it would probably have been transported up river to Duston. The mausoleum was found seven feet below ground in a four foot thick walled enclosure.


Unfortunately, little is known of the nature of this settlement but because of the size of the villa remains, it is thought to have been a central unit servicing other Roman provinces in the area. Extensive ironstone quarrying in the 19th and 20th century had destroyed much of the Roman town. The Roman occupation lasted almost 400 years until the Saxon invasions in 410AD.

A small bronze head of Lucius Verus, who ruled the Roman empire jointly with Marcus Aurelius (between 161-169 AD) was found at Duston around 1870. It was designed to be attached to a ceremonial staff.

In the village of Nether Heyford, a tessellated pavement was unearthed in 1699. Composed of square tiles and artificially painted in white, red, blue and yellow. A floor constructed of lime mortar and set with pebbles was discovered, the edge of which was painted three lines of red, yellow and green with the brush marks fresh and clearly visible. It is thought that this building was the manor house of an eminent Roman and that his family were buried in it. Urns, pottery fragments and an antique hammer head were found in one of the apartments to this house.