Wroxeter Roman City
I’ve become slightly obsessed with Roman history in Britain recently- which is strange because I’ve actually started to work on an Anglo-Saxon collection at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. But before I even start on the Anglo-Saxon updates, I thought I would share some more of the sites I’ve been visiting. Its interesting that some of the sites I have been visiting do have Anglo-Saxon evidence present!
Time for the history fodder
So, what is the Wroxeter Roman City? Well, a few weeks ago I had a snoop further north from Birmingham, in the Shropshire area. Basically it was one of the fourth largest towns in Roman Britain.
Although there is not much left of the town, there is lots of history to explore there, so its worth a visit! I would advise listening to the audio tour though, as by not doing so, you’ll feel as though you’re just looking at a few bits of stone.
It is believed that there was a population of at least 5,000 at its height and was still inhabited up to the 7th century. That’s pretty impressive as a lot of the Romans moaned about the British weather- and it was flipping cold at Wroxeter. The wind blew across like an Arctic fart for most of the time I was there.
In fact there are actual accounts of the Romans who settled at Wroxeter, moaning about the cold (this is all on the audio tour). AND, there was originally a bathing pool on the site, but the Romans decided our climate was a wee bit chilly for an outdoor dip, so ended up using it was a rubbish tip. Nice!
Here is a view through to the baths at Wroxeter, the main heated rooms. Bathers sweated dirt out by passing through a series of hot rooms. The tile pillars would have once supported the floor, and the space between was heated by a furnace. I had a listen to the audio tour which explained the various uses of the rooms and how Roman bathers passed through. There were also a lot of information boards with naked Romans on them- I enjoyed these *hehe.*
This is a view down what would have been the Basilica. Bathers would have exercised here before entering the baths’ suite (nice sweaty men!). The large piece of wall at the bottom to the right is part of the original south wall of the Basilica. This is one of the largest freestanding pieces of masonry left from Roman Britain.
Detail of the wall.
The audio guide explained how the building would have been constructed and I was really impressed with the workmanship and how well the wall had been preserved.
Further across from the site is the Wroxeter Roman Town house, a reconstruction built in 2010 by six builders. This new piece of ‘experimental archaeology’ had a six month deadline and was filmed for a Channel 4 series called ‘Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day’ . The design and interior were fascinating to look at, and the series is worth a watch too.
After the Romans left Britain in around 410 AD, life seems to have continued normally at the Wroxeter Roman Town for a while. With the arrival of the Anglo-Saxons, Wroxeter’s territory may have fallen under the control of the newly founded kingdom of Powys and during the 6th century the town was reorganised.
In the mid 7th century the Anglo-Saxon King Penda took over the area and the town dwindled away…
…and so Wroxeter lay in ruins, waiting to be discovered…by history obsessed people like me 🙂