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BRAVONIUM or Bravinium (Leintwardine and Buckton) Herefordshire, England.

The modern village, 32 km N of Hereford, covers the 5.5 ha oblong enclosure of the late 2d c. A.D. military station. The timber-laced clay rampart, originally 6 m wide, is well preserved along the W side of the village and especially at the NW corner; along the E side its position is marked by a steep fall along a line of property boundaries which include the E side of the churchyard. The small size of the bath house excavated in an annex between the S rampart and the river Teme suggests that Bravonium was a supply base and was garrisoned by a single cohort. Laid out in the 2d c., the bath house was extended and modified in the late 2d or early 3d c., and then altered drastically, probably in the 4th c. This echoes the pattern of work inside the fort, where two early periods were separated by a lengthy gap from a final, 4th c. building phase.

Bravonium was almost central in the Welsh border, 75 Roman miles by road from the legionary fortress of Deva (Chester) and 64 from Isca Silurum (Caerleon). It was at an important river crossing where the farther W of the two N-S routes of the central Welsh border intersects routes from the W, a strategic position utilized from the beginning of the Roman occupation.

The earliest fort (Jay Lane), discovered by aerial reconnaissance, was set on a knoll NW of the village. It had a twin ditch system outside a turf rampart. The latter had been thrown down when the site was abandoned, but the post-holes of the timber gateway and of the interval and corner towers establish the dimensions of the fort within the towers as 155 by 126 m (1.9 ha). Large enough to have held an ala quingenaria, the fort was probably established by Ostorius Scapula ca. A.D. 50 and dismantled ca. A.D. 75.

While Jay Lane was in use a vicus developed along the Watling Street West between the fort and the river. Consequently, when the border defenses were being consolidated in the 70s the obvious site for a waterside successor to Jay Lane had already been used; the army was obliged to build its new fort 1.6 km to the W on a low terrace between the rivers Teme and Clun at Buckton. This fort was also discovered from the air. It was about the same size as Jay Lane, and originally had a turf rampart and timber gatehouses. Perhaps as early as A.D. 110 a stone wall was added to the rampart and stone gatehouses were built. The latter were, unusually, provided with internal staircases and so became exceptionally large for an auxiliary fort: the excavated porta praetoria is 22 by 5.8 m over-all. The construction of the stone defenses was probably accompanied by the erection of stone buildings in the central administrative insula, visible on the air photographs but not excavated. The buildings were otherwise of timber. Within its rampart the stone fort (ca. 161 x 124 m; 2 ha) was large enough to house an ala quingenaria. By ca. A.D. 140 the fort was demolished and the position left without a garrison until the construction of the late 2d c. base at Leintwardine village over the charred remains of the vicus.

Finds from the three forts are in Ludlow Museum.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

S. C. Stanford, “The Roman Forts at Leintwardine and Buckton,” Trans. Woolhope Naturalists' Field Club (Herefordshire) 39 (1968) 222-326MPI.

S. C. STANFORD

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