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Reconstructed Roman Watchtower

A Grade II Listed Building in Brighouse, Calderdale

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.6911 / 53°41'27"N

Longitude: -1.7387 / 1°44'19"W

OS Eastings: 417355

OS Northings: 421658

OS Grid: SE173216

Mapcode National: GBR JT9R.CL

Mapcode Global: WHC9W.8HB6

Entry Name: Reconstructed Roman Watchtower

Listing Date: 15 September 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1419209

Location: Calderdale, HD6

County: Calderdale

Electoral Ward/Division: Brighouse

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Hartsheadst Peter

Church of England Diocese: Leeds

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Summary

Reconstruction of a Roman watchtower built in 1905 within what was thought of at the time as a Roman military enclosure. This site is now interpreted as an Iron Age defended farmstead or small settlement. The tower is included within the surrounding scheduled monument.

Description

Reconstruction of a Roman watchtower, used as a summerhouse and viewing platform, 1905, for Sir George Armytage.

MATERIALS: coursed stone with quoining, the top floor originally with applied timbers and render to give the appearance of timber framing. Slate roof.

PLAN: square, single celled with an external staircase to the first floor on the southern side.

EXTERIOR: at the time of inspection the watchtower was largely obscured by vegetation. The tower stands to full height, being of three storeys with a low-pitched pyramidal roof which originally had a wide overhang to protect the external second floor walkway which encompassed the tower; however most of the roof covering and some of the timber structure has been lost to decay, and only fragmentary remains of some of the supports provide evidence of the walkway. The central, nearly square windows to each side of the second floor have been bricked up, as has the doorway onto the walkway. Openings on the first floor remain open, (a doorway and two round arched windows) as does the ground floor doorway which has a timber lintel carrying the date MCMV. The external staircase is of stone and lacks any handrail.

INTERIOR: only fragmentary remains of the structure of the first and second floors remain. The walls appeared to have been unplastered.

DESIGNATION: the tower forms part of a scheduled monument (Castle Hill univallate defended settlement, Kirklees Park).

History

The watchtower was built in 1905 at around the same time that part of the surrounding earthwork ramparts were investigated archaeologically by Sir George Armytage (6th Baronet). Armytage concluded that what is now considered to be an Iron Age defended settlement or farmstead (and was designated a scheduled monument in 1936) was a Roman military site. The watchtower, built as a summerhouse and viewing platform as part of the Edwardian improvements to Kirklees Park (a Grade II Registered Historic Park and Garden, was modelled on depictions of watchtowers carved on Trajan's Column in Rome, erected in AD 113. As such it is thought to have been the first example of a historical reconstruction of a Roman building erected in England, being roughly contemporary with the reconstruction of the Roman defences at Cardiff (1898-1923) and at Saalburg in Germany 1898-1907, and much earlier than the fort reconstructions at Metchley Birmingham (1953) and Lunt, Coventry (1970s).

Reasons for Listing

The reconstructed Roman watchtower is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Date: as an early example of experimental archaeology, being the earliest identified example in England of a historical reconstruction of a Roman building;
* Architecture: a well-built and interesting interpretation of Roman illustrations of watchtowers;
* Group value: with the surrounding scheduled monument of which it is part, as well as the registered Kirklees Park and its other listed garden structures.

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