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Grim's Bank, Padworth, Berkshire

  • B. H. St. J. O'Neil

The immediate environs of Silchester consist of fields, which are either now under plough or else have been arable for many years in the recent past. Consequently there are few, if any, traces there of the Roman roads which led from the various gates to Dorchester, Speen and Cirencester, Sarum, Winchester, and London. A mile or more to the north and northwest of the Roman town, however, there is a belt of land, which is largely heathland except where trees have been planted. Here there are clear indications of the line of two Roman roads, one from the west gate, west-northwest to Speen and Cirencester, the other from the north gate to Dorchester (Oxon.)

The road to Speen (FIG. I) was formerly thought to follow closely the modern road along the northern side of Silchester Common and thence to run along the straight county boundary between Berkshire and Hampshire. In recent years, however, Mr O. G. S. Crawford has shown that the road, instead of following this traditional line, ran west-northwestward to cross the river Kennet near Brimpton Mill. It is traceable as a raised camber or a deep hollow way from Catthaw Lands Copse, about half-a-mile from the west gate of Silchester, to the western side of Hungry Hill. Further west, in Decoy Plantation, and again beyond the road from Padworth Common, i.e. in Keyser's Plantation, it is clearly seen as a broad cambered way (o.s. 641-1. Berkshire XLIV, SE, Hampshire IV, SE). Beyond this point the present writer has not followed it, but Mr Crawford has noted its continuation.

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1 All alignments given are in accordance with true north.

2 A narrow trench, dug from north to south, 40 yards west of this beginning, showed conclusively that Grim’s Bank had never existed at that point. There were no signs of a made bank or of a ditch. Everywhere, except as stated below, the subsoil occurs immediately below 1 ft. 6 ins. of soil and roots. The southern end of this trench cut what seems to be a bank at the edge of the field. Here the soil and roots are 2 ft. 9 ins. in depth or more and very hard at the bottom, but they are certainly due to ‘soil-creep’ from the field, and were not deliberately thrown there by man.

3 Arch. Cant., XLV, 124–8.

4 At this point another bank, with ditch to north, becomes merged with Grim’s Bank 1. It runs for about 250 yards westward; its position is unusual and its meaning is quite uncertain.

5 Other small gaps in this and the other earthworks have not been shown on the plan, since it is impossible from surface indications to suggest whether or not they are original, and it is felt that a multiplication of gaps on the plan would be more confusing than their complete absence.

6 Arch. Journ., forthcoming.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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