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Romans in Kings Norton

A dig before Kings Norton Cemetery was constructed on Longdales Road has provided a glimpse into Birmingham's Roman countryside.

The excavations revealed that the land alongside Icknield Street had been divided into a series of plots by ditches and pebble tracks running at right angles to the road frontage. Hedgerows still visible near the excavation site are on the same alignment as these roads and ditches and are probably on the line of Roman boundaries- so you can still see a Roman landscape in this part of Kings Norton! The plots contained some circular buildings and were in use from the 2nd century AD to the 3rd century. To their west, on higher ground, double ditches surrounded an enclosure. It contained livestock pens, a circular house and a pebble yard surface..

Most of the pottery found in the excavations had been made in the West Midlands. It included cooking pots made in the Malvern area, and storage jars and drinking tankards made in the Severn Valley. There were also some pieces of mixing bowls made near Nuneaton and in Oxfordshire, bowls made in Dorset, and a few pieces of red glossy Samian ware which was made in France a detailed report has been published.


The Roman road alongside the site, now followed by Icknield Street, ran from Alcester to the Roman fort at Metchley in Edgbaston. By the time that the enclosure and plots had been constructed here, the Roman fort was out of use but Alcester was a Roman market town. The Kings Norton Cemetery site may have been a collecting and storage depot for animals (sheep, cattle or even horses) before they were led on the hoof to Alcester. Sheep may have been shorn here and their fleeces picked up by a merchant to take by cart to Alcester, or sheep and cattle may have been slaughtered. Cattle hides may have been taken to Alcester for tanning.

The livestock kept here may have come from other Roman sites in the Kings Norton area. Excavations near Walkers Heath Road revealed gullies and daub indicating timber buildings, and remains of Roman timber buildings and pebble surfaces and a boundary ditch were discovered less than a mile away near Parsons Hill. Roman pottery has been found in excavations at the Saracen’s Head in Kings Norton, showing that there was a settlement on this site over a thousand years before the fine medieval timber-framed building was constructed.

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Last Updated : 23rd August 2013