Wroxeter

Wroxeter (Viroconium Cornoviorum) was the fourth largest town in Roman Britain and estimated to be about the size of Pompeii. 

The Old Work, the seven metre high basilica is the largest piece of free standing Roman wall in the country. The fields surrounding these ancient walls disguise the original extent of the Roman City.

It began as a legionary fort. A settlement grew up around the fort, and became a thriving city of great importance, numbering in excess of 5000 inhabitants at its height. Most of the population that swelled this new city came from the ranks of retired legionaries and tradesmen. The city grew to cover an area of some 73 hectares and acted as the tribal capital of the Cornovii. The civic areas were some of the largest in Britain, with the bath and forum occupying 2 entire insulae, or city blocks.

Though much still remains below ground, today the most impressive features are the 2nd century municipal baths, and the remains of the huge wall dividing them from the exercise hall in the heart of the city.

The most impressive remains include the municipal baths. These date from the 2nd century and stand beside a large exercise hall. After the Roman influence waned, the site became the headquarters of a British or Irish chieftain.

Recreation of a Roman town house with original pillar bases in the foreground

Unlike many other Roman cities, Wroxeter was not redeveloped as a Saxon or medieval centre, with the result that we can more easily see the Roman layout of the city. Aerial photographs have also revealed the existence of a Romano-British temple.

The site sits on the River Severn with the Wrekin in the background

In February 1859 workmen began excavating the baths complex, and by April much of the present site was exposed and thronged with fascinated visitors, including Charles Dickens. Donated by the landowner for public viewing, Wroxeter thus became one of the first archaeological visitor attractions in Britain.

Map showing Wroxeter to the south and the routes up to Chesterron in Stoke on Trent and Rochester to the East.
Reconstruction of the settlement with the circle in the centre illustrating the context excavated remains seen today

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s