NGRef: ST5222
OSMap: LR183
Type: Town, Fort, Fort

Roads
SSE (23) to Dvrnovaria (Dorchester, Dorset)
Trackway: ENE (55) to East Anton (East Anton, Hampshire)
Fosse Way: SW (5) to Ham Hill (Somerset)
NW (20) to Iscalis (nr. Bawdrip, Somerset)
Fosse Way: NE (14) to Shepton Mallet (Somerset)
NNW (8) to Pitney
SW (27) to Seaton
ENE (40) to Sorviodvnvm
S (6.5) to West Coker

Unfortunately the Antonine Itinerary, the otherwise superb second century list of road routes, does not list the south-western part of the Fosse Way. The Roman name for Ilchester occurs only in the seventh century Ravenna Cosmology as Lindinis (R&C#26), where it appears between the entries for the unknown stations Omiretedertis and Canza.

"Ilchester Somerset. Givelcestre 1086 (DB). 'Roman town on the River Gifl'. river-name (Welsh/Gaelic meaning 'forked river') + OE ceaster. Gifl was an earlier name for the River Yeo." (Mills p.195)

This settlement of around 50 acres (c.20 ha) lay about the junction of the Dorchester road with the Fosse Way, extending to either side of the latter's crossing with the River Yeo. Construction of the settlements civil defences, consisting of an earthen bank and ditch enclosing an area of around 25 acres (c.10 ha), has been dated to the late-2nd or early-3rd century. Sometime later the earthen rampart was fronted by a masonry wall, the base of which was about 8½ ft (c.2.6 m) wide, though no dating evidence has yet come to light.

The defences of one or perhaps two successive forts, were discovered beneath the settlement on the south bank of the river. Neronian samian has been associated with the foundation of the forts, and Flavian pottery was recovered from the ditch infill, possibly indicating abandonment of the military installation in the late first century. Another double-ditched enclosure of about 3½ acres (c.1.4 ha), identified from aerial photographs lying some 1,300 feet (c.400 m) north-east of the river-crossing, may represent another Roman fort.

Other Roman Sites in the Area

There is another Roman Fort inside the Iron-age hillfort at Ham Hill (ST4816), which lies about five miles to the south-west, with a villa (ST4816), stone quarries (ST4716) and a milestone on the Fosse Way nearby at Venn Bridge (ST4718). In addition there are a couple of Roman-British temples in the area, one to the east within the hillfort at South Cadbury (ST6525) and another to the north-east at Lamyatt (ST6636). The area also boasts several Villa estates, one nearby at Ilchester (ST5123), another along the road south-west at Crimbleford Knap (ST4013), a villa along the trail to the east at Bratton Seymour (ST6629) with Roman buildings nearby at Ansford Bridge (ST6334). More villas and substantial buildings lie along the road north-westwards in the area of Pitney (ST4530), and others along the road south around West Coker (ST5213).

Click here for the Romano-British Walled Towns page

See: Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names by A.D. Mills (Oxford 1998);
The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965);
All Latin English translations, including any inherent mistakes, are my own.