Brough-on-Humber is a small Roman town situated close to the north bank of the Humber estuary in the East Riding of Yorkshire. It is one of the few urban sites of this period known from the region. Having its origins in a Roman fort constructed in the 1st century AD, the settlement appears to have developed unusually. There is some debate over the nature of the post-fort occupation, with suggestions that it was a military supply-base, or that it was civitas capital of the Parisi, the local Romano-British tribe.

In the latter part of 1994, excavations at Welton Road, Brough-on-Humber, were undertaken by the York Archaeological Trust, in advance of building work. These were the first major archaeological investigations to have taken place in the extra-mural area of the settlement.

Site Report


A large Roman pottery assemblage was recovered from the site, mainly belonging to the later 2nd and 3rd centuries. The most important aspect of this assemblage was the presence of a quantity of ‘waste' from pottery production, suggesting the presence of kilns in the vicinity. The affinities of the pottery indicate that the potters were Continentals, drawing on traditions likely to be prevalent in the southern part of the Upper Rhine, arriving as early as the early 2nd century.

Finds Assemblage

The finds assemblage comprised a wide range of Roman objects, including personal items such as jewellery, military equipment, and hobnails from shoes. There are also household items such as glass vessels, an uncommon iron vessel and possible iron fittings from household utensils. Recreation may be indicated by a group of re-used pottery roundels. The evidence for craft and industry is slight, but suggests the presence of metalworkers, a carpenter and someone working antler. Some finds may have been part of the Roman buildings and include building stone from several different sources and ceramic building material. A small assemblage of prehistoric flint was also recovered.

Environmental Report

Deposits of Late Iron Age/early Roman to post-medieval date were recovered from Welton Road. A small vertebrate assemblage from these deposits, dating to the later 3rd and early 4th centuries, was examined.
Although detailed analysis of the vertebrate data is limited because of the small size of the assemblages, a number of general points could be drawn. The meat diet was clearly based on the consumption of beef, with much smaller quantities of mutton and pork. There was a deliberate selection of adult cattle which indicated multi-purpose beasts. Primary butchery and intensive exploitation of the cattle carcass appeared to have taken place on the site, while there is evidence to suggest that some of the larger joints of meat may have been consumed, and the bones consequently deposited, elsewhere. The fragmentary remains of a number of burnt caprovids may represent so-called ‘special deposits'. The assemblage as a whole fits well with others of contemporaneous date. Other biological remains were scarce and add only a small amount of additional information.


The discussion examines the nature of the Roman occupation at Welton Road, Brough-on-Humber. The evidence for the local pottery production is placed in a wider local and chronological context. The issue of the status of Roman Brough is also examined. The nature of the environmental assemblage suggests that the settlement at Welton Road had more in common with contemporary rural sites than any urban or military settlements, and that it may have acted as a ‘producer' settlement, supplying meat to another, possibly military, site.


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Last updated: Tue Nov 28 2000