Roman Period


  Reference to Roman influence is sparse in Plympton, but there is an ancient track way that ran east-west from the Saltash crossing to Plympton.  It crossed the Ham brook at Weston Mill, then the head of the creek, the Tavistock Road at Tor, and then at Crabtree.  This was the Ebb Ford to the Saxons, a name which, in the course of time, became Efford and moved up the hill, as place names will move.  The construction of Saltram Park obliterated part of the route, but beyond that it is still used into Plympton St.Maurice.
     Confusion is caused by the Ridgeway, the earliest written reference to it, in 1281, calls it ‘Ryggewwystrete’ and that street element always suggest a Roman link.  It is certainly part of a ridge road leading from the site of St.Mary’s church to the Hemerdon area, but it is not on our east-west route.  Probably, at some time, the Romans metalled and improved part of this old native trading route, and that is it’s only significance.  Equally, the South Devon route looks like an ancient track way taken over at some time for Roman use, even if it was never a great military highway like the famous Roman Roads.
     There was a Roman-British town at Staddon Heights (Stadio Deuentia) and the remains of what is thought to be a Roman Galley has been found in Newnham Park (580552). The sea level at the time of Roman occupation must have been at least 70ft higher than at present, since St.Mary’s church was behind the sea wall of the estuary, it is quite within reasonable probability that the Torry anciently expanded into a lake; the existence of which, moreover, may be indicated in the Domesday name of the locality-Lochetore, now Lough Tor.
     The church of St.Maurice apparently began as a chapel dedicated to St.Maurice (a Christian centurion of The Theban legion) martyred in 290A.D. for refusing to sacrifice to the pagan gods after Roman victory over the Gauls in Switzerland.  He founded a monastery there.  Later the dedication changed to St.Thomas (A Becket) when Henry VIII attempted to suppress all dedications to St.Thomas of Canterbury, the townsfolk of Plympton took the name of the chantry as the patron of their church and Plympton St.Maurice it remains to this day.   Roman coins are casually found throughout the district,
Indication of Roman influence in the Plympton area is provided by finds.  In 1887, Worth reported “five    Roman coins, much defaced, found on the site of Plympton Priory”.
   Three other Roman coins have been reported to the museum in past years:-
   A provincial Roman bronze coin of the reign of Tiberius, found at Chaddlewood (SX 554559),museum sheet record 2634.
   A bronze sestertius, probably 2nd century A.D., from Bullers Hill, museum record sheet 3696.
   A silver denarius, possibly Septimius Severus, from Cot Hill, museum record sheet 5808.



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