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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.


Roman Pottery Kilns in Stanground



Local Roman enthusiasts will be familiar with the pottery kilns in Normangate Field near Castor. However, there was also a pottery industry in Stanground too. During the 1960s there were several excavations to explore Roman features under what is now Park Farm. Archaeologists discovered four pottery kilns dating from the early to mid-third century (200-250 AD). There was also a 'pottery dump', several ditches, burials and coins too. 15 coins were found in total, which could all be dated to between 260 AD and 350 AD. This suggests that the site was abandoned by around 365. It also suggests that the site had two different uses over two different time periods. Interestingly, two of the ditches discovered on the site were dated to pre-Roman activity, possibly Iron Age. This extends the use of the site over several centuries. Analysis of the clay on the site identified two distinct types. One clay was finer and would have been used for high-end pottery. The other was used for every-day ware and would have been chosen for more rigorous domestic use. Over 240 kilograms of pottery were identified during excavations, not all had been created at the site though. A mixture of grey ware, colour-coated ware, cream ware and shell-gritted ware were discovered. These were represented as beakers, dishes, flagons, jars and dishes on the whole. Pottery created on the site has been found at other local Roman sites including Orton Hall and Peterborough Cathedral.

Cunoarus’ Stamped Mortarium



The Roman town of Durobrivae sat on the south bank of the river Nene near Water Newton and Castor. On the northern banks of the river was a densely-packed industrial area which centred on pottery and iron production. The area produced grey wares, colour-coated wares and kitchen wares which included mortaria. The mortaria were much thicker pieces of pottery designed for pounding and grinding. They were used to grind food, but also paints, makeup and other items. Pestles were usually made from wood and therefore do not survive with the mortaria. One piece of Nene Valley mortarium was found with the stamp of its maker on the rim or flange. Stamped mortaria are very common and found in large numbers from locations including St Albans (Verulamium) and Vindolanda. What makes the stamped mortarium from Durobrivae important is that it refers to Durobrivae. The stamp reads 'Cunoarus Vico Duro' in Latin, which translates to 'Conoarus of the vicus of Durobrivae'. A vicus was a name used for a large village or small town in Roman Britain. No date has been given to the mortarium, but the height of the pottery making industry at Durobraivae was in the late 2nd century (175-199AD). A stamped mortarium can often be dated but Cunoarus does not have any other surviving stamped pieces that we know of.