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Roman Industrial Surburbs of Normangate Field



The area to the south of Ailsworth and Castor villages is known as Normangate Field. It was the site of extensive Roman pottery and metal working workshops. The Roman road of Ermine Street runs through the area. It can be seen today as a massive bank of earth concealed underneath several hundred years of repeated road surfacing. The potteries here gave their name to the distinctive Roman pottery known at Castor Ware. Interpretation from 2018 has revealed that the Normangate Fields contained a complex and thriving community. The location of the fields put the pottery and metal workers in an excellent position. They were near the Praetorium, Durobrivae and Rive Nene for water-based transport. Also, not only were they straddling Ermine Street, but King Street too. It is possible that King Street was once much more important than Ermine Street based on the location of the workers.


Ailsworth Roman Villa



Several villas are found very close to Durobrivae including one in Ailsworth. According to Pevsner, Ailsworth Roman Villa is 'S W of the station beside the Nene, c. 1/2 m upstream of the ford.' The station no longer exists, although the train line is still in use as the Nene Valley Railway. Searching south west of the crossing provides the correct location. Pevsner claims that the villa had 'hypocausts, mosaic floor, and further tessellated pavement [and] seems to have been similar to that of the villa at Apethorpe (Northamptonshire). It also sounds remarkably similar to the villa a very short distance away on Mill Hill. It was only partly excavated by Edmund Artis in the Nineteenth Century, so very little is known about the villa. Reference: Pevsner, N., Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire, (Yale University Press, 1968) p204