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Roman and Anglo-Saxon Harrowden

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

Harrowden has a number of Roman sites. A trial excavation at Manor Farm, just south of the Bedford Southern Bypass [HER 15853] produced evidence of a number of phases of activity occurring on the site from the Neolithic to the Roman period. The site produced two features of a Roman date - a pit and a ditch, thought to be on the margins of a settlement. Near this area of Roman occupation the remains of medieval ridge and furrow were indicated by a geophysical survey.

Digging trenches in advance of road building in the early 1990s around the junction of the High Road and Old Harrowden Lane showed that there was an earlier Roman settlement beneath visible earthworks [HER 3920]. Later medieval boundaries respected the same alignment as the Roman ones. Buildings dating from the 12th-13th centuries were partly covered by agricultural soil and a cobbled trackway of 14th -15th century date all representing the medieval village of Harrowden.

Reports of Roman pottery and parts of kilns have been found during field-walking, in an area of linear cropmarks recorded from aerial photographs north-west of Bunyans Farm. The Roman Catalogue of the Bedford Museum Accession Register records two pottery vessels and two jewellery items from the Harrowden area [HER 526]. The pottery was found in 1906.

Two possible Roman roads have been traced in Harrowden. One of these is a road suggested by a national group dedicated to finding Roman roads in the modern landscape – the Viatores. It may have run from Bedford to Ickleford [Hertfordshire][HER 10480] and lay close to or on the site of the modern A600. Another suggested route of a Roman road lay at the far end of Old Harrowden Lane [HER 5179]

In 1860 some bones were found near a shapeless iron object in Harrowden [HER 14754]. It is thought that the iron object may be a knife or a spearhead, and that as such it may represent the site of an Anglo-Saxon burial.