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Bill Thayer

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George Witts:
Archaeological Handbook of Gloucestershire

The work transcribed in this subsite was published 120 years ago. Considering the immense amount of interest in and new information on Roman and Iron Age remains in Britain over the intervening time, it's natural to ask what value it might have today.

Well, even in the strictest scholar­ly terms, Witts' Handbook is in many respects a primary source, since he excavated a number of the sites he describes. But beyond that, surprisingly, on many of the places listed, there is no better information. Their destruction by farming, road-building and quarrying well under way — and accelerating — in the late 19c, quite a few of these vestiges no longer exist, and the meticulously documented Handbook is their final record and sourcebook.

Furthermore, from the standpoint of what's available online, while ten or fifteen percent of the sites listed have made it onto the "hit parade" of more or less famous monuments of which the diligent searcher can find more recent information and photographs, most of them have not; and often enough, the Web being what it is, where there are pictures there may not be any further real information.

Upshot: if you're interested in the ancient remains of Gloucestershire, you'll find Witts' Handbook useful. Where possible, I've enhanced its usefulness by inserting Ordnance Survey (OS) grid references and weblinks.

For technical details on how the site is laid out, see below. Here then is the complete work:


The object of this work is to place before Antiquaries, and all who are interested in the county of Gloucester, a short description of the numerous Ancient Camps, Roman Villas, Barrows, British Trackways, and Roman Roads to be found in every part of the County.

Hitherto, any one wishing for information on these subjects has been obliged to refer to numerous rare volumes and transactions of learned societies not easily to be obtained; and even then they might not find what they require, as many of the antiquities herein described have not been noticed in print before. It is hoped that the plan adopted of giving, in a condensed form, a description of each subject, will prove sufficient for the ordinary observer, while the references to the volumes and pages of those works that have previously mentioned it, will be found useful in directing to the proper source those who wish for fuller information. The writer had endeavoured to carry out the following excellent piece of advice, viz. — "that the author of a handbook on Archaeology should, above all things, eschew fine writing and confine himself to matters of fact." Thus, he has preferred speaking of "Ancient" Camps, instead of classing them as "British," "Roman," and "post-Roman;" if this had not been done, facts would have given way to suppositions, and, once the door of imagination is opened to the antiquary, there seems little chance of controlling the impetuosity of his upward flight! As a matter of fact, the writer agrees with Mr. Baker's opinion, as given in the "Archaeologia," that nearly all the Ancient Camps of Gloucestershire were originally constructed by the British. Many of them, doubtless, were much altered by the Romans, and some — especially that at Sodbury — seem to be decidedly Roman in character.

The writer cannot indulge the hope that the following is a complete list of the British and Roman antiquities of Gloucestershire, as no doubt many yet remain undiscovered beneath the sod. The number of Roman Villas, especially, may be expected to increase considerably as years roll on.

In concluding this short Introduction, the writer begs to express his sincere thanks to all those who have so kindly assisted him by giving information from all parts of the county, and trusts that when fresh antiquities are discovered he may be favoured with a repetition of their kindness.


Unnumbered chapters
(each individual monument is also a direct local link)

Ancient Camps: Abbey Camp Ablington Camp Abone Amberley Camp Bagendon Earthworks Batsford Camp Beachley Bulwarks Beckbury Camp Bigswear Entrenchments Birdlip Camp Bitton Camp Blackenbury Camp Blaize Castle Blisbury Camp Bloody Acre Cap Bredon Camps Bury Camp Buryhill Camp Caerwood Camp Cam Long Down Camp Charlton Abbots Camp Charleton Camp Churchdown Camp Cleeve Hill Camp Cleeve Hill Entrenchments Clifton Camp Cold Aston Camp Combesbury Camp Condicote Camp Cooper's Hill Camp Corinium Crickley Hill Camp Damery Camp Dowdeswell Camps Doynton Camps Drakestone Dyrham Camp English Bicknor Elberton Camp Eubury Camp Frampton Mansell Camp Freezing Hill (Furzen Hill) Glevum Haresfield Camp Haresfield Moat Hazlewood Copse Camp Hebdown Camp Hempstead Camp Hewletts Camp Hinchwick Camp Horton Camp Huddinknoll Hill Intrenchments Icomb Camp Idbury Camp Kimsbury Camp King's Weston Camp Knole Park Camp Ladborough Camp Lansdown Camps Leckhampton Camp Leckhampton Moat Little Dean Camp Littleton Camp Lydney Camps Meon Hill Camp Minchinhampton Camp Norbury Camps North Cerney Camp Nottingham Hill Camp Offa's Dyke Oldbury Camps Oldbury Court Camp Oxenton Hill Camp Pinbury Camp Prestbury Earthworks Puckham Camp Ranbury Camp Randwick Camp Rodborough Camp Saintbury Camp Salmonsbury Salperton Camp Selsley Hill Camp Sherston Camp Sodbury Camp Sowdley Camp Stokeleigh Camps Stow Green Camp Symonds' Yat Intrenchment Tetbury Camp Toddington Camp Tog Hill Camp Towbury Camp Trajectus Trewsbury Camp Tytherington Camp Uley Bury Upper Slaughter "Burh" Welshbury Camp Willersey Camp Windrush Camp Wolston Camp Woodbury Camp Yewbury Camp

British and Roman Roads: Akeman Street Buggilde Street Condicote Lane Cribb's Causeway Ermine Street Forest of Dean Roman Roads Foss Way Green Street Green Way Ikenild Street Oakle Street Patch Way Port Way Ridgeway Ryknield Street Salt Way Sarn Way Via Julia Western Trackway White Way

On Roman roads, Witts should be read with caution, and checked against Chapter 10 of Thomas Codrington's Roman Roads in Britain, a work which is more recent, better, and far more detailed; or of course against a print edition of Ivan D. Margary, Roman Roads in Britain, (1955, rev. 1967 thus under copyright still for many years to come), which in turn supersedes Codrington.

Technical Details

Edition Used

The original edition, G. Norman, Clarence Street, Cheltenham: no date, but at one point the author states he is writing in 1882; elsewhere, alerted by a kind reader of my transcription, I find it affirmed that it was published in 1883. It is in the public domain.

The title page reads: "Archaeological Handbook of the County of Gloucester. By G. B. Witts, C.E. being an Explanatory Description of the Archaeological map of Gloucestershire, By the same Author. On which are shown 113 Ancient Camps, 26 Roman Villas, 40 Long Barrows, 126 Round Barrows, and a large number of British and Roman Roads." Unfortunately, that map was printed separately, and I have never seen it.


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

This transcription has been minutely proofread. I run a first proofreading pass immediately after entering each chapter; then a second proofreading, detailed and meant to be final: in the table of contents above, the chapters are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe them to be completely errorfree; any red backgrounds would mean that the chapter had not received that second final proofreading. The header bar at the top of each chapter page will remind you with the same color scheme.

Inevitably, though the errata noted in the printed edition have been folded into the text, I still caught a few more errors, not all of them even strictly typographical. Those I could fix, I did, marking the correction each time with one of these: º. If for some reason I could not fix the error, I marked it º: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the bullet to read the variant. Similarly, bullets before measurements provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles. Very occasionally, also, I use this blue circle to make some brief comment.

Inconsistencies in punctuation have been corrected to the author's usual style, in a slightly different color — barely noticeable on the page, but it shows up in the sourcecode as <SPAN CLASS="emend">. Finally, a number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, apparently duplicated citations, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic  in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked.

Any over­looked mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have the printed edition in front of you.

Pagination and Local Links

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is indicated by local links in the sourcecode and made apparent in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line p57 ). Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.

Unit Conversions

Inches, feet, miles, ounces, pounds have been converted into metric units: the conversions are lurking under the little pale-blue bullets preceding the unit; hover your cursor over them (no need to click) and a pop-up box will appear, usually no larger than two inches wide and half an inch tall. Yards, being close to meters (1 yard = 0.91 m) and used by Witts as approximate measurements, are not converted.

I may have missed a few.

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Site updated: 13 Dec 20