The Romans Loved a Sea View Too

The Penns Mount excavations were what an estate agent might call ‘well positioned’, with beautiful panoramic views over the River Teign estuary. Our fieldwork team uncovered an enclosure (a rectangular perimeter of deep, v-shaped ditches, with a break for entering the settlement housed in its centre), dating to the early Romano-British period (mid to late 1st century AD). Sadly, the site’s former residents left very little behind in the way of artefacts or everyday detritus – even their well was spotlessly clean, but there are a few insights to be seen.

Teign view, courtesy of Tilia Homes
View of the development site © Copyright Tilia Homes

Location plan

Initial interpretations of this large, early-Roman enclosure were that this was a marching (military) encampment, but the archaeological evidence – based on the shape of the enclosure itself – suggest it likely housed more ordinary people, making use of the rich resources of food provided by the river and nearby sea. A significant quantity of oyster shell was uncovered, suggesting our historic occupants enjoyed a seafood dinner as much as we do today!

Roman residents of this small domestic settlement would also have taken advantage of the prestige of the location, which would have been a real status symbol; benefited from the security of a near 360-degree vantage point, to see any friend or foe who approached; and no doubt equally enjoyed the astounding scenic and sea views.

– Rosanna Price

The site was excavated in 2020 on behalf of Tilia Homes, in advance of a 90-property housing development.

Excavation of oyster shell
Excavation of the oyster shells, by CA’s site team
Share this!