(Mildenhall) Wiltshire, England.
Mildenhall village, in the parish of that name, lies ca. 2.4
km E of Marlborough, on the river Kennet. What is
called the Black Field, within the area described as the
site of the Roman settlement of Cunetio, is on the S
side of the river, and 0.4 km due E of Mildenhall church.
The field is also the meeting point for two Roman roads
running respectively E-W and N-S.
Recent air photography has disclosed the existence
within Black Field of a walled township of Romano-British date, some 8 ha in extent, with at least two
phases of construction. The first phase consists of a
double-ditched earthwork with rounded corners, whose
E, W, and S sides are visible in the photographs, measuring some 261 m E-W x 210 m. The S ditches are interrupted, probably for a small gateway. The second and
later phase comprises a massive stone wall with defensive bastions spaced at regular intervals along its E and
S sides. Roughly midway along the S wall crop markings
disclosed a gateway with drum-ended flanking towers.
Investigations since 1957 have cut sections across the
township wall on its four sides. Considerable robbing of
the wall, doubtless for building stone, had taken place
in antiquity, but enough of the foundation remained to
show that the wall had been built of heavy flint rubble
embedded in lime mortar, and its thickness at the base
varied between 5.55 and 4.8 m. Coin finds from mdividual cuttings were imprecise, but suggest a date of A.D.
280-350 for the wall construction.
One of the stone defensive bastions observed from
the air to project beyond the S wall face was also investigated. The bastion footings, standing two courses high,
were formed first by heavy squared blocks of Lower Chalk
laid on to the rubble platform, though not, it appears,
mortared together. Sufficient of this lower course remained to show quite clearly that it was semi-octagonal
in plan. Evidence clearly showed that the bastion had been
bonded into the wall face, proving (also by the similarity of both wall and bastion construction) that the masonry defenses of Cunetio were of a single date. Recent
research on the defenses of Romano-British townships
elsewhere seems to indicate a sweeping reorganization
about the middle of the 4th c. A.D., one particular feature
being either the addition of projecting bastions to existing walls, or their incorporation within entirely new
stone defenses. In the light of present knowledge at
Cunetio, the surrounding stone wall with defensive bastions is to be allocated to the 4th c. phase of the Roman
The latest excavation at the site proved the existence
of a hitherto unknown W gateway ca. 90 m S of the NW
corner of the town. A small coin hoard, dated to ca. A.D.
360, was recovered immediately above the gateway floor,
at its W end. Next to the gateway, and beneath the line
of the W wall, a well was excavated. The presence of
early figured Samian and native wares in the well implies
an early occupation of the site, within the 1st c. A.D., not
inconceivably related to the Roman military advance in
SW England during the initial stages of the Roman conquest. It is perhaps noteworthy that the plan of the early
ditched defenses conforms precisely to the so-called
playing card plan of a Roman military fortification, although it must be emphasized that these belong to a civil
phase of the occupation of Cunetio.
R. C. Hoare, Ancient Wiltshire
89; C. Soames, “Coins Found near Marlborough,” Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine
19 (1881) 84-85; M. E.
Cunnington, “Notes on the Pottery from a Well at the
Site of Cunetio, Mildenhall, Marlborough,” ibid. 41
(1920) 151-59; J. K. St. Joseph, “Air Reconnaissance of
Southern Britain,” JRS
43 (1953) 90; F. K. Annable,
“Excavations and Fieldwork in Wiltshire,” Wiltshire
56 (1956) 241-45; 57 (1959)
233 & (1960) 397; 58 (1962) 245; id., “A Late First
Century Well at Cunetio
,” ibid. 61 (1966) 9-24.
F. K. ANNABLE