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Elstow in the Romano-British Period

The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county’s historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. Elstow has good evidence of settlement during the Romano-British period.

A complex area of extensive cropmarks west of Peartree Farm [HER 1624] include both Iron Age and Dark Age features. Some linear features seem to have originated in the Iron Age and extended into the Romano-British period. South-west of the farm pottery from the 3rd and 4th centuries was discovered in 1936 [HER 263]. Another complex area of cropmarks to the north of the farm [HER 1625] was investigated prior to the construction of the Bedford Southern Bypass. Evidence showed an Iron Age field system seemingly being replaced by a Romano-British farm in the 2nd century AD. It lay east of a track and seems to have gone out of use by the 4th century. A 2nd century coins was found nearby years later. Field walking in 1999 east of Wilstead Road uncovered Iron Age and Romano-British pottery [HER 18247]. A site east of Elstow Lodge shows an Iron Age site extending into the Romano-British period [HER 8356]. A Roman road identified by the Viatores, a group dedicated to finding Roman roads in the modern British landscape, runs by this site.

An excavation at Elstow Abbey between 1965 and 1972 uncovered Roman pottery and coins [HER 15309]. In the south of the parish Roman pottery and tile has been discovered by field walking prior to a major development [HER 18248]. The tile indicates a villa or farm may have stood on the spot or nearby. A Roman brooch known as a bow brooch due to its shape was found at Elstow [HER 15896]. It is made from copper alloy. In 2001 and 2002 excavations west of the A6 during the construction of Progress Park revealed another Romano-British brooch [HER 18233].

An agger has been identified east of Medbury Farm [HER 735]. An agger is a Roman road – it would have been slightly raised in the landscape and convex in shape allowing water to drain into ditches dug along its length. West of Harrowden another agger has been identified [HER 3639], crossing Elstow Brook at a ford indicated by limestone slabs [HER 10476].