Scheduled Monument record MDR4539 - Roman Vicus and Cemetery (site of), Derby Racecourse, Derby

Type and Period (6)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

SK 362373. Traces of timber buildings of the late Antonine period were found, one of which had been burnt down, during excavation in 1968 on the Derby Race Course, close to the Romano-British kiln site (SK 33 NE 30). The buildings partly overlay a ditch 1.5m wide and 2.5m deep running approximately parallel to, and north of, the Roman road to Sawley (RR 182). The pottery from the ditch, which appeared to have been deliberately filled, dated to the early Antonine period. (1) SK 363376 : A cemetery was found immediately east of the industrial quarter of the civil settlement at Little Chester Roman Fort. Five small, square mausolea, one with a timber predecessor, and an amphora-burial flanked the road. A sixth mausoleum could be seen in section. A walled enclosure twenty metres to the north was 12m square, built c. 100-150, and contained inhumations and cremations, some of which were mutilated or prone. Between the enclosure and the mausolea were three burials of mid 2nd century date, at least one of them military. (2) SK 36243752. Derby Racecourse Roman vicus and cemetery. Scheduled. (3) Excavation has revealed Roman cemeteries, mausolea and industrial site in the north of this area as well as the line of the Roman road leading east and then south-east from Little Chester. (4) To the east of the Roman industrial complex on Derby Racecourse, a Romano-British cemetery was uncovered by the Parks Department of the City Council, when removing topsoil in 1978. Excavation was initially undertaken by Derby City Museum, then passed to the Trent Valley Archaeological Research Committee. The western edge of the cemetery was bordered by the pottery kilns excavated by Brassington in 1971 (SMR 18909); the eastern extent of the cemetery is not known. The cemetery as excavated may be divided into three parts: a line of five mausolea and a jug burial parallel to, and 7m north of the Roman road from Little Chester, begun in the late-1st/early 2nd century; a walled area 12m square, 38m north of, but not parallel to, the road; a number of cremations and inhumations lying between the mausolea and the walled cemetery. The mausolea were set in ground which had the appearance of an earlier occupational or agricultural deposit, or perhaps a roadside accumulation; a few pieces of Iron Age pottery were recovered in this area, but none of the features were demonstrably earlier. It would appear that the area was free of encumbrance when the cemetery was designated, and returned to agriculture after burials ceased. The cemetery continued in use for the same period as the settlement; there is no evidence for any post-Roman burial. (5) Scheduling Description Located c.600m east of the Roman fort at Little Chester (Der'ventic) , the site is a vicus, or small civilian settlement, situated on the Roman road from Little Chester to the Trent at Sawley. Excavations carried out on part of the site between 1968 and 1974 have revealed it to be a Roman industrial settlement, specialising originally in pottery and later in metalworking, with an associated cemetery. Pottery production indicates that industrial activity began with the settlement's creation c.AD90 and lasted until the mid-second century when metalworking took over as the most important industrial activity. This continued until the settlement's decline in the mid-fourth century. The latter period of occupation, from the second to the fourth centuries, is reflected in the area of the cemetery excavated. This revealed a line of five mausolea the Roman road and an open cemetery to the north with both cremation and inhumation burials, three of which contained military dress fittings. An area of a walled cemetery containing a mixture of inhumations and cremations was also located slightly further north of the main complex. The modern goalposts within the scheduled area are excluded from the scheduling. (6) This report gives details of Roman brooches from excavations in and around Derby, together with casual finds given to Derby Museum. Each is described in detail, classified and illustrated. Finds from Wheeler's excavation at the Racecourse Cemetery in 1978/9 included 1 brooch classified as Colchester Derivative, 1 Headstud, and 2 were Unclassified. (7) In 1990, 22 20m x 2m trenches were dug and individual areas excavated by hand as test pits. Although most of the deposits had been truncated, especially those to the west of the site, in places to the east deposits survived only 0.2m below the surface. (8)

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Trent Valley ARC 7 1973 2 & 3.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Britannia 11 1980 365 (F O Grew).
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Eng Heritage SAM Record Form 19/7/90.
  • <4> Unpublished document: Smith K. 1988. pers comm Smith K 29.2.1988. 29.2.88.
  • <5> Article in serial: Wheeler H. 1985. 'The Racecourse Cemetery', in 'Roman Derby: Excavations 1968-1983', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 105, pp 222-280.
  • <6> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1990. Scheduling Notification. 13236. Cat. No.: 282.
  • <7> Article in serial: Mackreth, D. 1985. 'Brooches from Roman Derby', in 'Roman Derby: Excavations 1968-1983', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 105 pp281-299. Figs.
  • <8> Unpublished document: Dodd, A. 1990. Trial Excavations at Derby Racecourse Park.



Grid reference Centred SK 36232 37497 (396m by 467m)

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

Related Events/Activities (2)

  • EDR436
  • EDR2157

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Record last edited

Aug 23 2022 6:02PM

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