History – Dark Ages

DARK AGES
AD 410 to 1066
Domesday &; Royal Land
The Roman Empire in Europe came under attack &; the Romans left Britain in the Fifth Century. The Britons who remained were over time raided by Saxons from Germany who settled in this area and they were raided by Vikings from Scandinavia. The Saxon King Alfred reigned in Wessex in the Ninth Century but the Vikings returned &; ruled from time to time until in 1066 the Saxon King Harold faced an invasion from William, the King of Normandy in France.

AD 410 to 1066

Domesday & Royal Land

The Roman Empire in Europe came under attack &; the Romans left Britain in the Fifth Century. The Britons who remained were over time raided by Saxons from Germany who settled in this area and they were raided by Vikings from Scandinavia. The Saxon King Alfred reigned in Wessex in the Ninth Century but the Vikings returned & ruled from time to time until in 1066 the Saxon King Harold faced an invasion from William, the King of Normandy in France.

History – Roman

Pottery fragments found in and around South Marston
Pottery fragments found in and around South Marston

ROMAN

AD 43 to AD 410
Durocornovium
The Roman town of Durocornovium was located at Covingham, less than a mile from South Marston, on the junction of two Roman roads, the Ermin Way &; the road south to Mildenhall (Cunetio).  The Ermin Way connected London via Silchester to Cirencester (Corinium), the second largest Roman town after London.  Durocornovium was founded in the First Century as a military camp but it became a merchant town covering more than sixty acres &; having a population of several thousand at its peak in 350AD.  Excavations were made in the 1970’s and the site of the Mansio (an inn) is a Scheduled Monument.  See The Romano–British Small Town at Wanborough by A S Anderson et al.
It is likely that Durocornovium was supplied with agricultural produce by farms &; villas in the surrounding countryside .
The Dobunni tribe accepted Roman occupation &; embraced a Romano-British culture.
From the 1st to 4th Century AD, South Marston is likely to have been a large Romano-British farming settlement.
The following is a brief list of where Roman features and finds have been found in the parish, with links to more detailed information.
Roman pottery and coins have been found throughout South Marston.
West of the village centre http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/search/fr.cfm?rcn=EHNMR-1261774&;CFID=27621&;CFTOKEN=48210211
Alfred Williams in “A Wiltshire Village” mentions the existence until about 1840 of a Roman camp at Rowborough farm with stone walls four feet high enclosing an area of an acre on a mound; did a straight Roman road lead from the Ermin Way to Rowborough?  Maps show a spur off the Ermin Way which lines up with Rowborough Lane &; a track through South Marston Farm &; an archaeological feature (200m track) recorded by the County Archaeologist in the field adjoining Marston Farm.  Was it a causeway over the marsh?
To the South of the village centre, numerous Roman artefacts have been found.

AD 43 to AD 410

Durocornovium

The Roman town of Durocornovium was located at Covingham, less than a mile from South Marston, on the junction of two Roman roads, the Ermin Way & the road south to Mildenhall (Cunetio).  The Ermin Way connected London via Silchester to Cirencester (Corinium), the second largest Roman town after London.  Durocornovium was founded in the First Century as a military camp but it became a merchant town covering more than sixty acres & having a population of several thousand at its peak in 350AD.  Excavations were made in the 1970’s and the site of the Mansio (an inn) is a Scheduled Monument.  See The Romano–British Small Town at Wanborough by A S Anderson et al.

It is likely that Durocornovium was supplied with agricultural produce by farms & villas in the surrounding countryside.

The Dobunni tribe accepted Roman occupation & embraced a Romano-British culture.

From the 1st to 4th Century AD, South Marston is likely to have been a large Romano-British farming settlement.

The following is a brief list of where Roman features and finds have been found in the parish, with links to more detailed information.

Roman pottery and coins have been found throughout South Marston:

Alfred Williams in “A Wiltshire Village” mentions the existence until about 1840 of a Roman camp at Rowborough farm with stone walls four feet high enclosing an area of an acre on a mound; did a straight Roman road lead from the Ermin Way to Rowborough?  Maps show a spur off the Ermin Way which lines up with Rowborough Lane & a track through South Marston Farm & an archaeological feature (200m track) recorded by the County Archaeologist in the field adjoining Marston Farm.  Was it a causeway over the marsh?

To the South of the village centre, numerous Roman artefacts have been found.

Pottery fragments found in and around South Marston
Pottery fragments found in and around South Marston
These have been recovered from an area of approximately 10 acres. There is a great deal of common and day-to-day pottery, typical of low-status sites. Starting from the bottom of the picture, we see light coloured, rough pottery; next is typical greyware; then there is a good selection of black burnished ware. The remainder contains a small quantity of English-made Samian ware, a very small quantity of decorated pieces, metal pins, and one piece of Roman glass.
Further south of the village centre, more Roman finds were unearthed when the police station was built. These included North Wiltshire greywares, black sandy wares, Savernake ware, sandy orange and buff wares.
The Government’s website on flooding shows how the village would look if there was flooding in the area. The water level would have been something like this in Roman times, when the village centre was probably very marshy, if not often under water. All of the sites listed above skirt this area.
We are aware of these sites because of recent developments and archaeological investigation. It has been noticed that these are probably the only places that have been investigated. If this is the case, it’s also possible that these sites covered much wider areas. The items recovered over 10 acres that are a short distance from the police station finds, suggest this might be the case.
It is likely that the proximity of Ermin Street and Wanborough made South Marston an ideal farming area. The excellent soil and plentiful supply of water would have contributed to a good yield that could easily be transported for distribution elsewhere. (Ermin Street was the route to Cirencester – the second largest Roman town after London).
All of this leads us to the conclusion that during Roman rule in Britain, South Marston was a large, bustling, farming community.
There is much more work to be done yet. If anyone can help, it would be much appreciated.
We have yet to answer many questions: there are a number of hedgerow tracks in the village. How old are they?  They are quite straight but does that mean they are Roman?  Did the Romans make pottery in the village?  There is a lot of clay in the village, and Roman kilns are known in West Swindon.If this was a large community, where did they worship?  Where did they bury their dead?
Within the parish, we also have a possible Roman fort and a possible Roman villa that are yet to be investigated.  Who dug the quarry to the north of the village and why?  A lot of iron stone has been found nearby – was this what was being dug out?

History – Iron Age

700 BC to 43 AD

Currently, there is little evidence of Iron Age activity within the parish. This is probably due to a typical lack of evidence for Iron Age sites, the small time frame (less than 750 years) and because no one has yet looked for this specific period.

WJ Arkell in “A Regional Essay” suggests that the name Burton Grove Farm means fortified farm and that the site is likely to have a prehistoric origin. There is a spring there, and they are usually of special significance to ancient peoples.

Given the great deal of Iron Age activity surrounding South Marston, (for instance, the Ridgeway has numerous Iron Age forts along it) it is likely that Iron Age farms would have been present, at least on the higher ground away from the current village centre.

There is some evidence for this.

To the west of the village centre, Middle Iron Age features have been found. More detail can be found here

Whilst close to there, to the north west of the village centre, there is evidence of activity dated to the Late Iron Age/early Roman period. More detail can be found here.

Finally, iron stone has been fo und to the north of the village centre, and in a few other areas. A quarry exists to the north of the village that may have been used for the extraction of iron stone. As yet, we do not know when the quarry was in use, or what was taken from it.

Iron StoneThe photo’ shows a variety of samples of iron stone found near the quarry.

As a guide to scale, the squarish piece (left most in the middle row) is approximately 5cm x 5cm and weighs 120g. The total weight of these pieces is 1170g. These samples are all poor quality, containing very little iron, but they may have been discarded for this reason.

History – Bronze Age

2,300 BC to 700 BC

Hunter-gatherers smelted bronze for tools &; formed farming settlements.

Archaeological Data Service shows finds around South Marston as people settled in the fertile River valleys below the Ridgeway.

There is a possible Bronze Age round barrow (or possibly a Medieval motte) in the north of the parish: Source

There is another possible Bronze Age round barrow to the south of the parish: Source

Items Found:

Bronze Age scraper This Bronze Age Scraper was found in 2007 in a field to the north of the village centre.

It measures 5cm x 3cm.

History – Prehistoric and Stone Age

During the Jurassic period (about 200 million years ago to 140 million years ago), South Marston was beneath a warm shallow sea. During this time the Corallian Beds were deposited. Unsurprisingly this means that there are vast deposits of fossil coral beneath the village. However, most of it is covered by Kimmeridge clay. This was deposited towards the end of the Jurassic when the sea became deeper.
The pictures below show typical Corallian fossils found in the area:
Two views of an ammonite fragment.
Two small ammonites, some belemnite fragments and some bivalves.
A large coral and a close-up to show the detail.
A selection of coral pieces.
The bivalves are similar to Palaeonucula calliope. Others fossils have been found including a spiral shell similar to Anchura pennata. Iron stone is also evident in places.
Next time you’re digging in the garden take care, the remains of aquatic dinosaurs have been found in the Kimmeridge clay of Swindon.

During the Jurassic period (about 200 million years ago to 140 million years ago), South Marston was beneath a warm shallow sea. During this time the Corallian Beds were deposited. Unsurprisingly this means that there are vast deposits of fossil coral beneath the village. However, most of it is covered by Kimmeridge clay. This was deposited towards the end of the Jurassic when the sea became deeper.

The pictures below show typical Corallian fossils found in the area:

  • Two views of an ammonite fragment.
  • Two small ammonites, some belemnite fragments and some bivalves.
  • A large coral and a close-up to show the detail.
  • A selection of coral pieces.

The bivalves are similar to Palaeonucula calliope. Others fossils have been found including a spiral shell similar to Anchura pennata. Iron stone is also evident in places.

Next time you’re digging in the garden take care, the remains of aquatic dinosaurs have been found in the Kimmeridge clay of Swindon.

Sources and links

There are many good Internet sources to be found, including:

The Jurassic geology of Great Britain:http://www.soton.ac.uk/~imw/Geology-Britain.htm

Search for “Midvale Ridge”: http://www.swindon.gov.uk/landscape_spg__may_05_.pdf

Useful geology maps: http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/east_wiltshire_landscape_character_assessment_part_1_maps_-_fig.2_geology.pdf

The British Geological Survey at: http://www.bgs.ac.uk/education/timeline/entertimeline.html

Search for “South Marston”: http://www.redorbit.com/




Stone Age

500,000 BC to 2,300 BC

The Ridgeway, three miles to the south of South Marston, was a major route for nomadic tribes of hunter-gatherers who used stone & bone for tools & weapons.

Friendly Club Outing – August 2009

Tuesday 11th August 2009

The day trip to Buckingham Palace went well. We arrived early and were allowed in before our allotted time. This proved useful as we were allowed to move through the Palace at our own individual pace. The audio guide gave you the opportunity to choose as much information as you wanted to learn about the exhibits. We stopped at Hampton Court on the return journey but did not have time to loose anyone in the maze.