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Monument record MDR4515 - Vicus (site of), Little Chester, Derby

Type and Period (2)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

SK 35473776. Traces of a considerable Romano-British settlement were found in 1926 during excavations in the recreation ground, under the supervision of the Borough Surveyor, C A Clews. It lay on either side of the Roman road approaching the Roman station at Little Chester [Derventio] from the north-north-east. (2) Traces of a possible civil settlement outside the Roman fort were discovered by J. Fossey in or before 1959. (3) a dupondius of Pertinax was found in Derby playing field in or before 1962. (4) No evidence of the settlement was seen on the ground in 1966. (5) Excavations in 1971-2 at the Roman fort [SMR18905] and settlement at Little Chester were carried out in advance of redevelopment of the south-east corner of the known Roman defences and adjacent extra-mural settlement (Site B) to the east. At Site B three successive metalled surfaces, associated with stone-lined wells, were identified, with timber buildings replaced in the late third century by a substantial rectangular stone building with an external colonnade. Occupation declined in the fourth century, and in the late 6th century a Saxon cemetery [SMR 18908] replaced the extra-mural buildings. (6) SK 355376 : An excavation was carried out in 1973 in Darley Playing Fields, within the vicus to the northeast of Little Chester Roman fort and east of Ryknield Street. The earliest feature found was a large pit, probably filled c.130-150 AD, containing charcoal, daub, ash, pottery and a 'dolphin' brooch. A road of hard-packed gravel bounded by kerbstones was found to run east-west across the site. It may be part of a minor road joining Ryknield Street, or perhaps a continuation of the "gravel'd road", mentioned by Stukeley in Iterarium Curiosum. A thin gravelled surface was present over the remainder of the site. The road and pit are probably earlier than the first Antonine phase of the fort defences, suggesting early growth of an organised vicus, although the large area of open gravel may suggest a military parade ground. Finds, including Roman coins, glass, studs and pottery, are now in Derby Museum. (7) Roman settlement, including roads, buildings and other features, is known to extend north of the second phase fort at Little Chester. The precise limits of this northern extent are unknown at present. (8) Trial trenches located at SK 35483754, a short distance to the north of the Saxon cemetery, were excavated in 2003 to a depth of one metre but no archaeological deposits were encountered. (9) An archaeological evaluation was carried out in March and April 2007 by University of Leicester Archaeological Services on land at the former Bristol Street Motors, Alfreton Road, Derby, in advance of housing construction by George Wimpey Ltd. The southern part of the site provided evidence for Roman occupation: a ditch, possibly pre-fort, dated by its pottery to the mid-first century; post holes and features, some dated by pottery to the late 2nd or third century, containing charcoal and daub from disused timber structures. An east-west boundary or drainage ditch, dated by pottery to the mid-to-late 2nd century and also containing a coin (Sf3) of probable 3rd century date, may delineate the back of any properties along the road heading east out of the fort. A large quantity of residual abraded Roman pottery, dating from the early 2nd to possibly the 4th century, was recovered from the overlying medieval plough-soil. (10) An evaluation trench on land to the south of the Coach and Horses Public House, at approx. SK 35593749, revealed a small area of preservation of domestic Roman activity in the form of a waste deposit, possibly associated with cooking activity. Features included a hearth and a pit, while finds included pottery sherds (local coarse ware, some imported fine ware and Samian Ware), a broken quern stone, animal bones (including hare, grey plover and two small lap dogs) and a complete copper alloy bracelet or arm band. The remains were interpreted as representing a part of the Roman vicus. (11) An archaeological evaluation undertakne in advance of housing development at the former Bristol Street Motors on Alfreton Road, Little Chester, detected evidence for the Roman period extramural settlement relating to the adjacent fort. A mid-1st century ditch together with 2nd century features containing charcoal and daub, probably deriving from the destruction of timber structures, were recorded and probably related specifically to the rear plots fronting on to the north side of the Old Chester Road. The results were highly fragmentary and difficult to interpret within the emerging picture of the extramural settlement, particularly in the light of the highly disturbed nature of the development site, which limited the opportunities for investigation. (13)

Sources/Archives (13)

  • <1> Article in serial: Knight, A. 1927. 'Roman coins from Little Chester', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 49, pp 353-363. p 353.
  • <2> Article in serial: Taylor, M & Collingwood, R. 1926. Journal Roman Studies 16, 222.
  • <3> Article in serial: Fisher, F. 1959. 'Notes and News, 1959', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 79, pp 130-132.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: East Midlands Committee of Field Archaeologists. 1962. East Midlands Archaeological Bulletin, 1962. No. 5. p 6.
  • <5> Personal Observation: F1 FRH 29-NOV-66.
  • <6> Article in serial: Sparey-Green, C. 2002. 'Excavations on the South-eastern Defences and Extramural Settlement of Little Chester, Derby 1971-2', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol. 122.
  • <7> Article in serial: Dool, J. 1972. 'An Excavation in Darley Playing Fields, Little Chester, Derby', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 92, pp 5-14. pp 5-14.
  • <8> Article in serial: Birss, R & Wheeler, H. 1985. 'Introduction', in 'Roman Derby: Excavations 1968-1983', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Vol. 105, pp 7-14. Figs.
  • <9> Unpublished document: Kinsley, G (TPAU). 2004. Archaeological Excavation on a Development at Centurion House, Old Chester Road, Derby.
  • <10> Unpublished document: Tate, J (ULAS). 2007. Archaeological Evaluation on Land at the former Bristol Street Motors, Alfreton Road, Derby.
  • <11> Unpublished document: Shakarian, J (ARS). 2007. Mansfield Road, Little Chester, Derby. Report on an Archaeological Excavation.
  • <12> Unpublished document: Darcy, J. 2010. Email to DCC archaeology from Derbyshire Archaeological Society, 29 June 2010.
  • <13> Article in serial: Tate, J, Cooper, N & Johnson, E (ULAS). 2008. 'An archaeological evaluation on Alfreton Road, Little Chester, Derby', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal.



Grid reference Centred SK 35539 37739 (254m by 463m)
World Heritage Site Derwent Valley Mills

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Record last edited

Aug 23 2022 6:02PM

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