Roman remains in Sydenham

The History of Sydenham from Cippenham to present day. Links to photos especially welcome!

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Roman remains in Sydenham

Postby Steve Grindlay » 25 Jan 2010 10:47

On another thread Falkor wrote:
…Sydenham Hill is an ancient boundary between the parishes of Lewisham and Camberwell. When was it first formed? Does it have a Roman origin? … the Romans did at least walk across Sydenham Common (included most of Upper Sydenham), as a major Roman artefact was discovered there, which I plan to try and locate soon; perhaps somebody has a high quality photo of this already or knows what museum it's located in?

Three significant Roman artefacts have been found in Sydenham: a bronze serpent and two bronze tablets.

The earliest reference I’ve been able to find to these items is in the 1811 edition of “The Environs of London” by Daniel Lysons which says: “In the year 1806 some Roman antiquities were found by a labourer as he was digging in a gravel pit on Sydenham Common; the most remarkable were two fragments of inscribed tablets of copper, containing part of a decree of the Emperor Trajan in favour of veterans of the auxiliary cohorts, serving in Britain.”

According to Samuel Lysons (Daniel’s brother) they were “in the possession of Mr Kerval of Sydenham and have been presented by him to the British Museum”. A catalogue of the contents of the British Museum published in 1855 says that Kerval gave them to the museum in 1813.

Thus, in summary, three Roman artefacts were found in a gravel pit in Upper Sydenham in 1806. They were acquired by George Kerval (who ran a school, the Sydenham House Academy, on Peak Hill). He donated them to the British Museum in 1813.

The bronze serpent has been photographed:

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There seem to be no photographs of the tablets but they have been drawn, and described in detail, in “Roman Inscriptions of Britain” (published in 1990). I’ve uploaded the relevant pages here although, to be honest, it is so technical that I can't make much sense of it.

When the author of one local book wanted to inspect the tablets they were told they were in storage some distance from London, and it was not be possible to see them.

We may never know the precise location of these items, but the Sydenham Common enclosure map of 1819 suggests a possible site. This extract from the enclosure map shows the junction of Wells Park Road (shown as “occupation road”) and Sydenham Hill. Most plots of land have the name of the owner but one plot, on the present site of St Clements Heights, is marked “For Gravel”:

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Postby Falkor » 25 Jan 2010 22:23

Thanks for your reply, Steve! Shame that bronze serpent hasn't been photographed recently, in colour, with a digital camera. I take it it's not on display in the British Museum?

I wasn't aware of the copper tablets(!); they are exceptional finds--not just for Sydenham--but for Roman Britain! I collect books on Roman Britain, but never tried to find that book on inscriptions because, apparently, they are all contained within a more up-to-date book by S. Ireland called Sources For Roman Britain, for which I have the most recent edition from the last couple of years.

Personally, I doubt very much these 3 items were dropped by soldiers walking through what became Sydenham Common. If they were walking through Sydenham Common then where were they coming from and where were they heading to? Obviously, the London-to-Lewes road, passing through Blythe Hill, Bellingham and the Pool Valley, is the closest link.

I wonder what the Great North Wood looked like in Roman times? It's possible that the Sydenham (Common) side of Sydenham Hill was cleared of woodland since pre-historic times. I'm now starting to believe there could have been a substantial Roman building somewhere near St Clements Heights, probably south, towards the stream that went from Mountacre Close towards Peak Hill and Bell Green, via Wells Park. How's that for a theory? :D
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Postby Falkor » 30 Jan 2010 10:22

HERE IT IS!!! :) In context of Diplomas:
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Postby Falkor » 30 Jan 2010 10:44

There's a similar diploma listed for Wroxeter, and here's some photos from my visit last year... I guess the Sydenham diploma would have been very similar to this...
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Postby Falkor » 30 Jan 2010 10:56

This must be the one from Cheshire in Chester museum:
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Postby Ulysses » 30 Jan 2010 11:08

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Postby Falkor » 30 Jan 2010 11:39

Bah, that looks like Iron Age, so I'm not impressed and don't really care... :twisted: 207 BC, the Celts may have been trading with the Romans, but Britain did not have civilisation or architecture until the Roman invasion of 43 AD, unless client kings had formed an early town in Silchester just before the invasion..
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Postby Falkor » 30 Jan 2010 20:14

BTW, more Roman remains have been found in Sydenham:
Diploma, coiled serpent and helmet on Sydenham Common
Cremation burial, Samian bowls, tile fragments and box flue tiles @ Bellingham
Romain coin in Sydenham Road
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Steve G's photo of the more recent search for the Roman road thru Bellingham (report is lost at Lewisham Library).
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Re:

Postby Falkor » 9 Sep 2012 18:59

Here's my first ever attempt at translating a Roman inscription!

1. http://oracle-vm.ku-eichstaett.de:8888/ ... aphikkl_en
Search for Place: Sydenham

There was found 1 inscription.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Publication: CIL 16, 00051 = CIL 03, p 0866 (p 1972) = CIL 07, 01194 = RIB-02-01, 02401,02
Province: Britannia Place: Sydenham
Imp(erator) [C]aesar [divi Nervae f(ilius) Nerva Traianus] / Augustus Germa[nic(us) Dacicus pontif(ex) maximus] / tribunic(ia) pot[estat(e) VIIII imp(erator) IIII co(n)s(ul) V p(ater) p(atriae)] / equitibus et p[editibus qui militant in] / alis duabus e[t cohortibus decem et una quae] / appellantur [I Tungrorum et Classiana] / c(ivium) R(omanorum) et I Celt[iberorum et I Hispanorum et I] / Lingonu[m et I Fida Vardullorum et I Fri]/siavonum [et I Nerviorum et II Vascon]/um c(ivium) R(omanorum) et I[I 3 et II Asturum et II?] / Pannonio[rum et II? Delmatarum et sunt] / in Brittan[nia sub 3 qui] / qu<i=E>na et vi[cena plurave stipendia merue]/runt quor[um nomina subscripta sunt] / ipsis liber[is posterisque eorum] // [civitatem dedit et co]nubium / [cum uxoribus quas tunc hab]uissent / [cum est civitas iis data aut si qui ca]elibes es[sent] / [cum iis quas postea duxissent du]mtaxat [singuli singulas] / [a(nte) d(iem)] III [3] / [C(aio) Iulio] B[asso Cn(aeo) Afranio] D[extro co(n)s(ulibus)] / [cohort(is) 3]num c[ui prae(e)st 3] / [3]rioni [3]nis [f(ilio) 3] / [descriptum et recognitum // Imp(erator) Caesar divi Nervae f(ilius) Nerva Traianu[s] / Augustus Germanic(us) Dacicus pontif(ex) max[i]/mus tribunic(ia) potestat(e) VIIII imp(erator) IIII co(n)s(ul) V p(ater) [p(atriae)] / equitibus et peditibus qui militant in a/lis duabus et cohortibus decem et una qu/ae appellantur I Tungrorum et Classi/ana c(ivium) R(omanorum) et I Celtiberorum et I Hispano/rum et I Lingonum et I Fida Vardullo/rum et I Frisiavonu[m] et I Nerviorum / et II Vasconu[m c(ivium) R(omanorum) et 3]um e[t] / [II A]sturum et [II? Pannoniorum et II?] / [Del]mata[rum et sunt in Britannia

2. http://papyr.com/hypertextbooks/grammar/findtext.htm
Remove all the ( ) [ ]

3. http://translate.google.com
Translate from Latin to English

Emperor Caesar, son of the deified Nerva Nerva Trajan Augustus, high tribunes Romanian commander 9 4 5 consul father country horsemen and foot soldiers who fight in the wings and two cohorts of ten and one of which 1 Tungri Classiana and Roman citizens, and the nation, and 1 1 1, and Spanish and 1 1 and faithful Lingones Vardullorum Frisiavonum attack and 1 and 2 and 3 and 2 Gascons citizens Astures 2 and 2? Pannonian and 2? Dalmatia and under 3 who are in Britain and twenty or more square <i=E> na salaries earned whose names are subscribed to the city gave their children and their posterity and intermarriage with the women with whom they had had the time, the city was given to them, or if they were unmarried, including those which only after they had each of them before the day 3 X 3 Caius Julius Basso Afranius right band councilors 3num 3rioni 3nis son presided over 3 and 3 described the revised emperor Nerva Trajan Augustus Caesar, son of the divine Nerva, high tribunes Romanian commander 9 4 5 consul father horse country and foot soldiers who fight in the wings and two cohorts of ten and one of which 1 Tungri Classiana and Roman citizens, and the nation, and 1 1 Spanish and 1 1 and faithful Lingones Vardullorum Frisiavonum and 1 and 1 and 2 attack citizens and Gascons Astures 3um and 2 and 2? Pannonian and 2? Dalmatia and in Britain

4. Let's see how close that is to an expert human translation... :idea:
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Re: Roman remains in Sydenham

Postby Westwood » 14 Feb 2018 15:19

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Re: Roman remains in Sydenham

Postby Bob M » 17 Apr 2018 18:18

Re the Roman remains in Sydenham , there is a report in the Victoria County History , under KENT Sydenham
giving exact details including a roman helmet, half of the diploma plus a bronze item . Found in1806
when a cottage was being demolished.
Question : Is this the same discovery as the one above ? From a different report perhaps.
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