Between Villa and Town: Excavations of a Roman Roadside Settlement and Shrine at Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire

Lying in the heart of the Nene Valley at Higham Ferrers in Northamptonshire, was a substantial Roman roadside settlement, excavated in part by Oxford Archaeology during 2002-3. Established along the eastern side of a road in the early 2nd century AD with an array of circular stone buildings, it underwent a significant transformation around 100 years later. A series of plots containing rectangular stone buildings was laid out on one side of the road, whilst on the other side was a monumental shrine complex containing hundreds of votive offerings. Although the shrine fell into disuse in the later 3rd century, the settlement continued to expand along the road until it too was abandoned during the latter half of the 4th century. No doubt the shrine played an active role in the economic lives of the inhabitants, but the evidence indicates an overwhelming agricultural economy - a community of native farming families with horticultural plots, small paddocks, nearby arable fields, and hay meadows on the Nene floodplain. This volume presents the results of archaeological investigations of this Roman settlement, along with other excavated prehistoric sites in the local area, including Mesolithic activity, a late Neolithic/early Bronze Age ring ditch and a middle Iron Age settlement.