The landscape of the Somerset Levels was very different in the Roman period, with many areas that are now drained then being a mix of mudflats and saltmarshes, fen peats and raised bogs. Most of the northern parts of the Somerset Levels had already been reclaimed from wetlands by this time.

A reconstruction of what the Somerset levels may have looked like in the late Roman period, showing the location of the small town and port of Crandon Bridge at the western end of the Polden Hills

Crandon Bridge Romano-British port

Professor Stephen Rippon

Rippon, S. 2008, ‘Coastal trade in Roman Britain: the investigation of Crandon Bridge, Somerset, a Romano-British trans-shipment port beside the Severn Estuary’, Britannia XXXIX, 85-144

When the M5 motorway was built through Somerset in 1971, one of the pioneering pieces of rescue archaeology was carried out along its line, under the auspices of the M5 Research Committee directed by Peter Fowler. A lack of resources at the time meant that it was not possible to write up the excavations, but one site in particular attracted the attention of Professor Stephen Rippon because of his interest in the archaeology of the Somerset Levels. This was at Crandon Bridge, near Bridgwater, and appeared to be a small Romano-British port beside a now silted branch of the river Parrett. With the aid of grants from the British Academy, Roman Research Trust and Somerset County Council those old excavations have now been written up.