Saturday, 12 June 2010

Wroxeter Roman City (Viroconium)

DSCF9465It is difficult to believe that this lovely pastoral scene is typical of an area that was fought over for centuries and, as with Northumbria, the Romans set garrisons here.

city plan-1


Viroconium began as a Legionary fortress – in this area, the borders of Wales were very fluid – and grew into the fourth largest city in Roman Britain. covering 200 acres and having 2 miles of walls. What we can see today is enclosed in the circle highlighted in the plan above.  The rest is below ground and new excavations continue.

The area open to the public was the centre of the city with the baths, forum and market.  Baths, to Romans, didn’t mean a private room. These were at the centre of public life and very sophisticated.  A visitor could use a cold bath (the frigidarium), a warm bath (the tepidarium) and a hot bath (the caldarium). Not until the 20th century did bathing again become a commonplace and enjoyable activity.

basilica-1 The basilica, illustrated above was an exercise hall and meeting place.  245 feet long and 66 feet wide, it had marble columns supporting the roof.

DSCF9529-1 Today, all that remains above ground is an area of white gravel to show the boundaries and darker circles where the marble columns stood - and one imposing stretch of wall.

P1010442 Leading to the baths, this wall is one of the largest remaining free-standing structures from Roman Britain. It is difficult to get a sense of scale and, as usual, we were looking for the mood of the place and nearly missed the opportunity to add human figures to give a sense of scale.

The above picture shows the entrance to the baths themselves.

DSCF9478-1  P1010454

The piles of tiles shown above were under the floor of the hot and cold rooms and a floor would have brought them up to the level of the entrance.

Our hats are taken off to English Heritage who have given us a glimpse into the centre of Viroconium while excavating and preserving the remains of much more.

There are more photos on Picasa.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails