The first unsuccessful Roman invasion of Britain by Julius Caesar was in BC 55 but he never reached Shropshire on that occasion. In AD 43, the Roman Army under the Emperor Claudius mounted a successful invasion of Britain and defeated 11 tribes in the south-east. The Romans set up their capital at Camulodunum (Colchester) and Claudius returned to Rome. Their occupation was to last until AD 408.
The Romans immediately set about building roads and the large city of Viroconium (Wroxeter) was developed around the site of a Roman fort. Previously, Celtic settlements had been haphazard collections of houses, usually in small farming communities. The new Roman city was planned properly with a street pattern, bath houses, shops and government buildings. It eventually became the fourth largest walled Roman city in Britain, behind London, Cirencester and St Albans. At its peak Viroconium had nearly 15,000 inhabitants. The fort was the Roman base for operations against the Silures tribe and the 14th legion was initially based here, later replaced by the 20th Legion.
Watling Street was the most important Roman road in Shropshire and most of its route became the A5 road. It ran from Dover to Viroconium (Wroxeter). Travellers on the road were served by a system of way stations (Mansios). There were also privately owned inns (Cauponae), which provided basic hostel-like accommodation. Better accommodation for those who could afford it was in houses (Tabernae), which offered bed and breakfast. Travellers also needed sufficient money to pay the various tolls along the way. A description of other Roman roads in Shropshire can be found HERE.
The Romans mined for lead at several locations near Shelve, including the Roman Gravels Mine. The process used “hushing”, where water was dammed up and suddenly released to wash away the soil and reveal the rock below with its mineral veins. Underground workings were only shallow and triangular in cross-section. Nothing remains of these today due to destruction from later mining activity. The lead ore contained a small amount of silver that was extracted during smelting, providing about 2½ ounces of silver per ton. Several Roman pigs (ingots) of lead have been found with the inscription “IMP HADRIANI AUG” (Emperor Hadrian Augustus).
Replica lead pig
1) Weight 190lbs, dated AD 117-138, found 1767,
Lead pig at Linley Hall
2) Weight 193lbs, dated AD 117-138, measuring
3) No details and has not been seen since 1827.
4) Weight 185lbs, dated AD 117-128, found 1851 at
the Roveries Snead, ¾ mile north-east of church and
5) Weight 173lbs, AD 117-138, found in 1851 near to where (2) was found earlier. There is no record of it so it may be confused with the original find.
6) A lead pig was apparently found in the open workings at Roman Gravels but nothing further is known about this.
The Romans also took over an existing copper mine at Llanymynech Ogof and there is evidence that they used slave labour in the mines
From the late 3rd Century, Britain went through a period of unrest. Attacks mounted from rebellious tribes and increasing maintenance costs led to much of Viroconium falling into disrepair. By 408 AD, attacks all over the Roman Empire resulted in the legions being withdrawn from Britain. Viroconium was abandoned and the Emperor Honorius told the British that they must now defend themselves.
Gazetteer of Sites
Acton Scott Villa (SO458897)
Painted plaster found at villa
The villa lies on a south-facing slope above a stream. It is aligned precisely east-west and had a small bath house added to the south-west corner at a later date. It is probable that the building originated as an aisled barn and was later converted into a habitable dwelling. Excavations have revealed painted wall plaster, a hypocaust system and some ancient Greek coins. Given the proximity of the lead mining complex at Linley, about 4 miles to the west, it is very likely that the villa here is associated with the production of lead, possibly as the residence of the person in charge of operations. It would have been removed from the noise and pollution of the production centre itself and placed beside Watling Street.
Ashford Carbonel Settlement (SO5369)
Villa 1 (SO53216931) - building of aisled construction and with at least six pairs of aisled post holes, 27m by 11m.
Villa 2 (SO53246936) - corridor building 36m x 14m, with wings at either end extending out by 5m. The long axis is orientated north-west to south-east, the front of the building facing south-west. Linked with the above building by an enclosing wall on their eastern sides.
Atcham Settlement (SJ5509)
Cemetery (SJ552092) - three glass cinerary jars containing cremations between Tern Bridge and the River Severn. Some coins and a lamp were found in association.
Pottery Kiln (SJ55230917) - 4th Century kilns, though there was some earlier production on the site.
Villa (SJ531095) - micaceous flagstones, roof slates and box tiles indicative of a villa.
Attingham Park Marching Camp (SJ55600975)
The camp occupied the tip of a slight south projecting spur just east of the River Tern and 1,968ft north-east of its confluence with the River Severn. The site has good views up and down the Severn, including the sites of the camp at Cound Hall and Viroconium. The outlook towards the east and north-east is restricted to some extent by undulating ground which rises gradually to the east. The construction of modern military camps and other installations associated with the former Uckington airfield has also caused considerable disturbance. The orientation of the camp is approximately determined by the falling ground on its east, west and south sides. The interior of the camp occupies fairly level ground which rises slightly to the north, suggesting that its outlook to the south was of paramount importance.
Berghill Marching Camp (SJ35053033)
The camp measures about 460m from east to west by 330m transversely. There is poorly drained ground on its east, west and south sides but its elevation, though relatively slight, nevertheless provides good all-round visibility, particularly to the south and east. Almost all of the perimeter has been recorded, apart from the south part of the west side, which is overlain by Perry Farm, and the west part of the north side. In contrast to the familiar rounded shape of the north-west and south-east corners, the north-east corner is rather sharp and obtuse. The east side of the camp changes direction about 15m north of the midpoint. Here a narrow break in the line of the ditch most probably marks an entrance, the only one tentatively identified. Just to the north of this, a sudden offset in the ditch may represent the point where a south-west to north-east drain crosses it, though the precise reason for this effect is unclear.
Berrington Settlement (SJ5507)
Villa 1 (SJ555071) - pit containing pottery could indicate a villa nearby.
Villa 2 (SJ55860785) – pottery, tiles and rubble of a villa at Grotto Coppice.
Bettws-y-Crwyn Villa (SO163839)
Pottery and an urn indicate the site of a villa.
Bromfield Marching Camp (SO485775)
The camp is an almost perfect rectangle with rounded corners. A gap in the centre of the eastern defences was probably a gateway protected by a defensive arch. A gap in the longer north side possibly marks another gateway and, if so, the camp was aligned towards the WSW. The western defences have been destroyed by modern quarrying and crop-marks on the south side are patchy and no gate can be identified.
Brompton Marching Camps (SO2493)
There are two temporary marching camps lying to the east of the Pentreheyling Fort, which may possibly be attributed to the same period. They perhaps preceded the fort by a few months or so.
Camp 1 (SO249934) - the northern defences measure about 1,280ft, short lengths of the eastern and western defences can be traced at 620ft and 1,280ft respectively. It would appear that the modern A489 road marks the southern boundary of the camp. If the Roman engineers used a slight break in the natural slope to delimit the southern defences, the camp would have formed a squat trapezium, almost square, which could have easily housed half a legion and several auxiliary regiments, perhaps totalling over 4,000 soldiers.
Camp 2 (SO249933) - this smaller camp lies wholly within the perimeter of Camp 1. The entire northern defences may be traced, around 755ft in length, along with part of the north-east corner, which appears slightly obtuse, the complete and slightly acute north-west corner and about 740ft of the west side. If the A489 road follows the southern defences then this camp would have delineated a parallelogram, again almost square, enclosing an area sufficient for perhaps 3 or 4 cohorts, between 1,500-2,000 men.
Burlington Marching Camps (SJ779106)
There are two temporary marching camps beside Watling Street opposite Burlington Pool.
Camp 1 was possibly established by Legio XIV Gemina during the winter/spring campaign of AD 47-48 as they pushed west towards Wales, under the direct command of the second Roman governor of Britain Publius Ostorius Scapula. It is situated on a low spur just south of the line of Watling Street on the west side of a tributary stream of the River Worfe. The north-east defences of the camp are seemingly aligned along the valley of the stream and not on the military highway, which is possible proof that the camp preceded the road. However, the camp's proximity to the highway, which lies just 65ft outside its north-east defences, cannot be ignored. There are several gaps in the perimeter of the camp but the only ones which can be readily identified as gateways are those placed centrally in the north-east and south-west sides, the latter perhaps being defended by an internal ditch. it is possible that a gap in the north-west side, about 390ft from the north-east corner, is also an original gateway.
Camp 2 was built at a later date, entirely within the north-eastern corner of Camp 1, and re-uses part of the older camp’s defences to form its own north-east perimeter. There are a number of gaps in the defences but only two may be positively identified as gateways, one placed centrally in the south-west side and another in the south-east side, slightly off-set to the west. This camp does not occupy the most favourable ground within the older encampment and it seems likely that its purpose was to guard the crossing of Watling Street over the Burlington Stream.
Cheney Longville Marching Camp (SO428847)
This was strategically situated close to Stretford Bridge and at the junction of several ancient trackways. One of these roads, known as the Hen Fford (Old Road), linked forts in Wales and Staffordshire. It closely followed the route of an older Celtic trackway, which linked a number of hillforts in the area and was possibly utilised as a Roman supply route into the Welsh Marches. It measures 515ft from north-west to south-east by 320ft and enclosed an area of nearly 4 acres. The fort is large enough to have housed a Cohors Quingenaria, a 500 man auxiliary infantry regiment. Possibly even a similar-sized mixed unit of cavalry and infantry known as a Cohors Equitata. The defences of the Roman fort were later used by the Normans, whose castle mound now dominates the site.
Child’s Ercall Hoard (SJ6627)
Hoard of 2,800 coins in a grey coarse ware jar, covering the period AD 253-282.
Church Stretton Hoard (SO4795)
Hoard of 3rd Century coins.
Cleobury North Hoard (SO6087)
Small hoard of silver coins found in Cleobury Park.
Cound Marching Camp (SJ56140500)
The line of a ditch has been observed just over 200 yards south-east of Cound Hall. It occupies an excellent position on a pronounced north-west to south-east spur between the Coundmoor Brook to the west, the Cound Brook to the north and the River Severn to the east. The position chosen gives good long-distance views northwards up the Severn valley to Wroxeter and beyond but to the south-east the ground rises towards Harnage. There is a rounded east corner, approximately a right angle, and about 260ft of the north-east side and 688ft of the south-east side of the camp. There is no obvious entrance. The interior is more or less level and its north part presumably lies within the surviving parkland of Cound Hall. Several hollows within the park, apparently natural, may have influenced the position of the camp's perimeter. If so, a marked hollow south of the Hall may indicate a maximum length of about 590ft for the north-east side. The north-east ditch of the camp, which is cut by a later field boundary, may have been roughly aligned on the small valley immediately south-east of the hall.
Craven Arms Temple (SO4382)
Site of a temple.
Cruckton Villa (SJ432102)
The villa was discovered during the building of Church Close in Cruckton and most of the remains appear to have been destroyed at that time. Excavations revealed a four-roomed building with a hypocaust and other building remains of 2nd Century AD.
Diddlebury Quarry (SO546854)
Quarry providing stone for Viroconium and Yarchester Villa.
Duncot Fort (SJ57651170)
This measures 780ft long by 223ft wide. It is situated about 2½ miles north of Viroconium and ½ mile east of the road from there to Chester. Excavations have revealed two V-shaped ditches about 1m deep with cleaning slots in the bottom, separated by a turf rampart. No gateways have yet been found. In the south-west part of the rampart a series of post or stake-holes have been discovered in and between the ditches. There is also evidence of a thorn hedge type of defence inside the inner ditch. There is slight evidence of internal stone structures and some nails have been found indicating the probable presence of timber buildings. A complex of post holes was discovered at the south end. No coins have been found but there have been a few finds of 2nd Century pottery. At the southern end of the fort there is a small rectangular adjoining enclosure.
Eaton Constantine Fort (SJ598055)
This lies in a bend of the River Severn on a low projecting spur between Ranslet House and Eye Farm. It was defended by a triple-ditch system measuring about 920ft x 1,050ft within the defences. This substantial defensive system shows that this was no ordinary marching camp and its size is sufficient to house a substantial force of around 2,500 Roman legionaries and auxiliary soldiers. The fortress was probably occupied in AD 47 by a contingent of XIV Gemina Legion, together with a couple of auxiliary cavalry units. The camp was sited here to serve two main purposes, both tactical and strategic. Firstly, the camp is in a superb tactical position to launch an attack upon the Wrekin Hillfort close by to the north-east. It was seemingly purposefully sited so as not to be visible from the summit. Secondly, the fortress was strategically located to act as a springboard for operations in the south-west across the Severn into Central Wales, where the British warlord Caratacus was stirring-up unrest amongst the local Ordovices tribe. It was probably abandoned in AD 58 when the fortress at Wroxeter was built.
Edenhope Hill Signal Station (SO265879)
Aerial photograph showing square shape
A dark crop mark indicates the position of a signal station, which would have been a tall tower surrounded by an enclosed courtyard and ditch. It would have been used to watch for the approach of Welsh raiders and as a means of sending warning signals to other stations.
Grinshill Quarry (SJ523237)
Quarry providing stone for Viroconium.
Hordley Hoard (SJ38643013)
Hoard of 362 coins dating from AD 138-282 contained in a small black burnished vessel.
Ismore Coppice Marching Camp (SJ55670933)
The north-east corner of a possible marching camp lies immediately north-east of Ismore Coppice, beside the B4380 from Wroxeter to Atcham. It occupies level ground, only about 250m south of the camp in Attingham Park and probably less than 300m west of Norton Camp 1 and is overlooked by both. Its siting is not particularly prominent but, like the camp in Attingham Park, it commands good views along the Severn. The outlook to the north and east is completely obscured by higher ground. Only the north-east corner, about 40m of the north side and barely 30m of the east side of the camp are traceable. No earthworks are evident in the interior of Ismore Coppice since the ground has been extensively disturbed by a modern military camp associated with the old Uckington airfield. The east side of the Roman camp must have been aligned on a shallow north-north-east to south-south-west valley and by the course of a drain within Ismore Coppice. To the south, this feature merges with the pronounced west to east scarp above the Severn.
Excavations have identified at least three phases of construction. In the first phase, a large building with walls 4ft thick was constructed, probably a bath-house. The second phase utilised the foundations of the first building which was in a ruinous state when work started. The floor-level of the building was raised by 2ft with an infill of rubble containing pottery from around the turn of the 3rd Century. The building was then used either for industrial purposes or again as part of a bath-suite. During the third phase, a large timber outhouse was built up against the north-east corner of the original building. A few 4th Century pottery sherds were found, suggesting that the site had fallen into disrepair by the early part of that century.
Leighton Marching Camps (SJ5904)
Three Roman marching camps lie to the immediate south of the fortress at Leighton, close beside the B4380 minor road between Eaton Constantine and Cressage. The triple ditch system of the fortress seems to overlie the north-eastern parts of all three camps and must therefore be a later construction date.
Camp 1 (SJ596049) - the south-west corner of this camp has a radius of curvature approaching 130ft, which indicates a very large encampment, and does not constitute a right-angle, being in fact around 100°. About 200ft of the west side and a longer 540ft length of the south side have been traced. The corner of Camp 2 intersects the corner of this camp and lies on a slightly different alignment.
Camp 2 (SJ596049) - this camp is 460ft long on the west side and 590ft long on the south. The radius of curvature of the corner is only about 33ft and describes an angle of 90°, so it is assumed that the camp was significantly smaller in size than Camp 1, whose widely-curving south-east corner cuts obliquely across the defences of this camp close to the southern end of its western rampart.
Camp 3 (SJ596050) - the south-west corner of this camp lies about 150 yards north of the other two camps, less than 100 yards outside the south-west defences of the Leighton fortress. The radius of curvature, like that of Camp 2 is again small and covers a right-angle, with attached, a short 150ft section of the west side and a longer 390ft length of the south side.
Linley Mining Area (SO3593)
Aerial photo showing hushing scars
There is evidence of Roman lead mining in the area between Norbury and Linley Hall along the southern slopes of Linley Hill (SO361929). Large areas of the middle and lower slopes have been worked, producing irregularly spaced infilled gullies which run north-south down the hillside. The preferred method used here by the Romans was hushing, which washed the lead ore from the hillside using water brought in along an aqueduct channel east of Squire Hall (SO355931). The lead from these hills is particularly poor in silver content, there being only around 2½ ounces of silver in each ton of processed lead. At least five lead pigs (ingots) have been recovered from the area over the years, each with the words IMP HADRIANI AVG moulded into the upper surface, emphatically proclaiming them the property of the Emperor Hadrian (AD 117-138). Three of these ingots also bear inscriptions which have been stamped or punched into their surfaces. That in the private collection at Linley Hall has MINB, the one in the British Museum has SN, and another is said to have borne the stamp LEG XX. These are very likely the marks of the military units and private contractors who were licenced to extract the ore.
Linley Settlement (SO3492)
The area over which the remains extend is about 12 acres and might conceivably be a village with one or two considerable buildings. It may be presumed that they were related to the nearby lead mining area.
Villa 1 (SO346927) - two sections of mosaic pavement from here have been placed in More Church on either side of the font. There are no indications of buildings in situ and the area is now crossed by a number of drainage ditches.
Mosaic in More Church
Excavations at villa
Llanymynech Settlement (SJ266222)
An important copper and lead mine existed at Lanymynech Ogof and there must have been a settlement nearby for the Roman overseers. Roman remains have been found in the mine itself but nothing on the surface.
Lydham Fort (SO336909)
A 5 acre fort, later reduced in size to a 1 acre. The site commands extensive views to the north-east and south-east and remains on the western side stand 5-6ft high in places.
Mediolanum Fort (SJ541416)
A fort was built in AD 51-52 and formed part of the border established by Ostorius Scapula on a site halfway between Viroconium and Deva (Chester). The name means ‘place in the middle’ and it was at a major crossroads of routes to Shrewsbury, Chester, London and Wroxeter. The fort was demolished around AD 100. An adjacent town had been established by AD 70 and initially consisted of several wooden buildings but these were soon replaced by more substantial ones made of stone. The current High Street in Whitchurch follows the line of the Roman road.
Mediolanum Settlement (SJ5440)
Cemetery 1 (SJ54244116) – cinerary urn found in widening Rosemary Lane.
Cemetery 2 (SJ54444095) – 2nd Century cemetery with 4 cremations. The cremations appeared to have been placed in shallow pits dug into the natural sand and were accompanied by one or two pottery vessels.
Cemetery 3 (SJ54454094) - 6 cremation burials at Queensway.. Five of them lay in a line north-south and one was associated with a coin of Trajan.
Cemetery 4 (SJ54464098) - broken cinerary urn found near fountain.
Cemetery 5 (SJ54474096) - cinerary urn, 10 inches high, found 2ft below surface at Sedgeford, just west of junction of the roads from Wem and Edgeley.
Cemetery 6 (SJ545409) – 2nd Century cemetery with 6 cremations along the line of the Roman road at Sedgeford. One pit contained a ring necked flagon, iron nails and a bronze mirror.
Hoard (SJ54473892) – hoard of coins.
Villa 1 (SJ54163900) - tegulae and pottery indicate a building.
Villa 2 (SJ54454091) – amphora indicates nearby villa.
Villa 3 (SJ54454097) - iron lamp, 4 inches in diameter, indicates nearby villa.
Villa 4 (SJ552395) - cobbled surfaces and tegulae indicate a villa. Also considerable quantities of iron slag, some nails, fragments of knives, bronze brooch and much imported and local pottery, giving a probable date of occupation from late 1st to 3rd Century.
Moreton Say Hoard (SJ64843400)
Hoard of 700-1,000 coins, dating between AD 253-279, found in 1898 when ploughing a field opposite Fabric Cottages.
Norton Marching Camps (SJ5609)
Camp 1 (SJ562095) - this large sub-rectangular camp is located just outside the massive north-west defences of Viroconium, which has partly erased traces of the camps south-east defences. The outline of the camp is incompletely known. Only the north-east corner has been recorded together with almost the entire north and east ramparts, but only a 984ft stretch of the south side and less than half of the west side have been traced. The only identifiable gateway lies in the centre of the east side, the opposite gateway in the west side now lies beneath the modern A5 road which obliquely crosses the site lengthways. The interior of the camp is criss-crossed by a multitude of features, some of which may be pre-Roman but most appear to post-date the camp.
Camp 2 (SJ571098) - the south-east side of a large Roman camp, about 1,033ft in length, together with east and south corners, were recorded in fields about ½ mile north-north-east of Norton Camp 1. The south corner is a perfect right-angle but the adjoining south-west side is recorded for a length of only 164ft before becoming untraceable among later soil disturbances. The east corner is markedly acute and connected to a 557ft stretch of what appears to be the north rampart. It is likely that the south and north defences of the camp extended up to the Roman road which issues from the north gateway of Viroconium and that the west ramparts of the camp were positioned along the east side of the road. This scenario would make the camp rhomboidal in outline, with the approximate dimensions recorded above.
Pentreheyling Fort (SO245931)
This stands at the confluence of the Rivers Camlad and Caebitra, which are both tributaries of the Severn. Judging from its closeness to the later fort at Forden Gaer, this fort can probably be attributed to the early campaigns of Governor Publius Ostorius Scapula sometime around AD47-48 and possibly fell into disuse after only a short occupation. It measures 590ft from east-north-east to west-south-west by 510ft transversely. This is enough space to house either an “ala quingenaria” (500 strong auxiliary cavalry regiment), a “cohors peditata milliaria” (1,000 strong auxiliary infantry cohort) or two legionary infantry cohorts.
Pimhill Villa (SJ481157)
Excavations in Alkmund Park uncovered rooms with a hypocaust, possibly a bath house and V-shaped ditches containing pottery and tile.
Quatt Marching Camp (SO738890)
This small, almost rectangular camp lies on a gravel spur above the east bank of the River Severn north-west of Lodge Farm. A modern field boundary obliquely bisects the camp from south-east to north-west. The only gateway is on the north side, positioned slightly off-centre.
Rhyn Park Forts (SJ3037)
Two overlapping encampments are situated on the English side of the River Ceiriog opposite Chirk.
Fort 1 (SJ306370) is the larger of the two and is an irregular quadrilateral with no two sides or angles quite the same. The north side is 1,080ft long, south side 1,240ft, east 1,640ft and west 1,530ft. The defences consist of a double ditch system, the outer ditch much more substantial than the inner, enclosing an area of around 42 acres with four gateways. The north-western corner has been lost to erosion by the Afon Ceiriog. It is believed that the fort was occupied sometime during the mid-first century during the initial campaigns of Governor Publius Ostorius Scapula in AD 47-48 against the Welsh.
Fort 2 (SJ307369) has a narrow defensive ditch, with the west side measuring 750ft, south 800ft and north 640ft. The eastern defences have been lost due to erosion of the minor valley on this side. There is an outer defensive work to the west, where a wide ditch set at least 100ft outside the inner defences has a staggered entrance opposite a gateway set centrally in the inner ditch. There is a gap in the southern defences for a gateway. The area enclosed by the inner defences is at least 14 acres, which is rather large to be an ordinary auxiliary fort. It is believed that the fort was occupied during the Welsh campaigns of Governor Sextus Julius Frontinus in AD 75.
Rushbury Villa (SO515918)
Masonry and tiles found in a field south of the church may mark the site of a villa.
Rutunium Settlement (SJ557250)
A small settlement and posting station on the road between Viroconium (Wroxeter) and Deva (Chester), at the crossing of the river Roden.
Sharpstone Hill Villa (SJ489097)
Pottery, glass and tiles of a roadside settlement have been found, dating from the 2nd Century. From the 3rd Century to the end of the 4th Century the settlement was primarily involved in industrial activities.
Sheinton Smelting Works (SJ60830353)
Typical rusty Roman bloomery cinder lies along the bed of the Sheinton Brook downstream from SJ60870351 for some 90m in ever increasing quantities. No visible traces of the bloomery site along the banks of the stream.
Shelve Mining Area (SO3399)
Hush at Roman Gravels Mine
There is evidence Roman lead mining in this area, using hushing techniques which washed the lead ore from the hillside using water brought in along aqueduct channels. In the 19th Century, miners at Roman Gravels Mine (SO333999) discovered earlier shafts containing pottery and wooden shovels, as well as Roman coins and lead pigs (ingots) in the spoil. In addition, the presence of Roman-style open cuts suggest that the area was first mined during the Roman period using hushing techniques, possibly around AD 120. Such hushes have also been found at East Grit Mine (SO324980). Underground mining is reputed to have taken place at Snailbeach Mine (SJ37510214) in the Roman period and a Roman lead pig (ingot) was found nearby at Snailbeach Farm. The associated settlement for the miners has not yet been discovered but could well have been in the area of Shelve village.
Shifnal Fort (SJ76090966)
Located 300m east of Drayton Lodge Farm and 1 mile south-west of the marching camps at Burlington. The remains show the fort to have been rectangular in shape with a triangular annexe to the east. At the mid-point on the eastern side, 2 middle ditches turn at right angles to form an entrance causeway. Its overall dimensions are 155m north to south by 205m east to west. Evidence suggests the fort was established during the Claudian military advance in AD 47 and was built to accommodate an auxiliary unit of 500 infantry known as a Cohors Quingenaria Peditata.
Stretford Bridge Marching Camps (SJ4384)
There were two adjacent camps close to the strategic Stretford Bridge and at a junction of Watling Street with the Hen Ffordd (Old Road) linking forts in Wales and Staffordshire. This closely followed the route of an older Celtic trackway, which linked a number of hillforts in the area and was possibly utilised as a Roman supply route into the Welsh Marches. Both camps were possibly established by Legio XIV Gemina during the winter/spring campaign of AD 47-48 as they pushed west towards Wales, under the direct command of the second Roman governor of Britain Publius Ostorius Scapula.
Camp 1 (SO429841) has only half of the perimeter remaining, with a complete western side measuring 1,230ft, including two right-angles, and an attached length of the south defences 1,180ft long. No gateways can be identified and the eastern side of the camp may lie to the east of the A49 road. The path of Watling Street branches away from the modern A49 at a point just outside the camp’s north-eastern defences, cutting obliquely across its eastern half which means that the road was constructed later.
Camp 2 (SO430837) lies less than 130ft to the east of Watling Street and is not aligned with it. Only the western parts can be identified and there is no trace of any ditches to the east, so the original size of the camp cannot be known with any accuracy without excavation.
Uffington Marching Camp (SJ524128)
This roughly rectangular camp lies in a bend of the River Severn about 3¾ miles north-east of Viroconium. It appears to have had two periods of occupation, as the north-east side was either contracted or expanded by about 165ft at some period in its history. Although none of the gaps in its circuit can be positively identified as gateways, the camp is protected by the waters of the Severn on all sides except the north-east, so it is fairly certain that the camp was oriented in this direction.
Upper Affcot Marching Camp (SO444864)
The only remains of this camp are the south-east corner and attached portions of the east side (360ft) and south side (920ft). Existing field boundaries indicate that the original dimensions of the camp may have been somewhat larger.
Upton Cressett Villa (SO64859269)
2nd to 4th Century pottery including Samian, Rhenish and Severn valley ware. Though covering an area at least 200 yards square, the majority was found in four concentrations associated with darker soil. No building material, except for one fragment of tegula tile, was found. Probably a villa.
Uxacona Signal Station (SJ723108)
Built alongside Watling Street and consisting of a small, univallate enclosure on the highest point at 614ft OD. Watling Street bisects the site from east to west. This fortified settlement measures 200ft north-south by 175ft east-west. Substantial amounts of 3rd Century pottery and a few pieces of 2nd Century pottery found within the enclosure suggest that the settlement here was started during the late 2nd century and was firmly established by the middle of the 3rd. The gatehouses of local red-sandstone were built in the late 2nd century, followed by a defensive wall with foundations of the same material 14ft wide, which encircled the pre-existing settlement. This rampart was later surrounded by a U-shaped ditch, 10½ft wide and 6ft deep, further fortifying the site in the 4th century, when it became classed as a burg (heavily fortified town).
Viroconium City (SJ565085)
Remains of bath complex
The site was first founded as a fort on Watling Street in 58 AD but developed into a large walled town with a port on the River Severn. The town had a wide variety of quality housing, several temples, a theatre, stone municipal buildings and mainly paved streets. It produced and traded pottery, salt and iron. Watling Street continued south here over the river towards Bravonium (Leintwardine) and there was another road heading north to Mediolan (Whitchurch). Most of the site has been purchased by English Heritage who lease it for farming. An area has been retained however which is open to the public and contains several substantial remains. For more information CLICK HERE. There are also a number of remains outside the city walls in the surrounding area
Aqueduct (SJ572086) - with its source at a point where Bell Brook narrows ¾ mile from the city defences. A dam would have been constructed at this point but no remains can now be traced. The aqueduct has been largely filled in and obliterated by ploughing, although it survives between SJ57490855 and SJ57000867. Sections excavated have shown that the channel was about 8ft wide at the top and about 3ft deep. At SJ56950860, after passing through the town defences, the aqueduct was able to pass through a col in the ridge and then follow a gentle downhill course to the baths complex.
1 (SJ57110925) - this appears to have
been the principal cemetery of Viroconium. It probably occupied both sides of
the road but it is only on the east side that any important discoveries have
Cemetery 2 (SJ567095) - cremation cemetery in garden at Norton, 120 yards north of the line of the north wall of Viroconium. A 6ft square clay-lined pit was discovered 3ft down containing an urn of bones standing on two cemented tiles, in which was embedded a coin of Trajan (AD 98-117). A coin of Hadrian (AD 117-138) was also found in the cemetery.
Pottery and Brickfield (SJ55810905) - between River Severn and Ismore Coppice. It had two working floors, a pit, two kiln pads and an unused oven foundation. As no actual kiln structures were found, it is assumed that the tiles were fired in clamps. No pottery waste was found on the site. A trodden 6 inches thick clay floor with slots and post holes, with building material pressed into the surface, indicates wooden structures. In sweepings around the edge of this floor were some Samian sherds. The second floor was similar, covering about 1,000 square feet with iron nails being found on it. One kiln pad was in the sealed ash layer the other in the red fill above. The unused oven foundation was 3½ inches diameter with 7 inches wide tile surround. Pottery found suggests that the tilery was in use throughout the 2nd Century.
Pottery Kiln (SJ561090) - on the north side of Viroconium, close to the Bell Brook. It consisted of two furnaces, in which were found the broken portions of a large quantity of mortaria made from red clay. One of these red mortaria was discovered in the cemetery north of Viroconium with two side lugs and is the only specimen found here. As there were many broken examples of the same type in the kiln, it is probable that this was made locally. This pottery kiln is probably of Hadrianic/Antonine date.
Villa 1 (SJ56070917) - concentration of building tiles in an area 30m by 10m, aligned south-west to north-east, suggest a 2nd Century villa.
Villa 2 (SJ56650813) - substantial masonry walls at Wroxeter vineyard, which is adjacent to the ramparts of Viroconium, suggest a villa. A cremation in a grey ware jar associated with a glass flask was found nearby.
Villa 3 (SJ58000932) - scatter of pottery and building material suggest a villa. The building material included brick and tile fragments, including at least one tegula, with mortar and stone.
Wall Town Fort (SO692782)
A small fort dating from the 1st to 2nd Centuries AD. A perimeter ditch has been excavated and the soil piled up behind the ditch to form a bank on the inside of the enclosure. There is also evidence for a small vicus (associated civilian settlement).
Whitley Grange Villa (SJ45790959)
Excavations at villa
This consists of the well-preserved remains of hypocausted rooms, suggesting a bath house complex. The bath house appears to have been built in the 3rd Century, with some work done in the 4th. A mosaic was discovered in a room to the south-west of the bath house and this has been dated to the third quarter of the 4th Century. The main colours of the mosaic are red, white and green with the central medallion originally decorated with a bust of Medusa. The residential part of the villa consists of a service corridor and three rooms, not large enough for permanent habitation. It may be that the residential wing lies undiscovered elsewhere on the site or that the remains are that of a country retreat or somewhere to relax at weekends.
Wroxeter Auxiliary Fort (SJ563077)
This is sited on level ground, high above the eastern bank of the Sabrina Fluvius (River Severn), some 2,000ft south of the southern corner of the defences of Viroconium. There is a slope towards the river in the western part of the fort and outside the western defences the slope increases. To the east, the ground rises gently and the view in that direction is limited to about half a mile. The dimensions of the fort within the ditch system are about 515ft east-west by 470ft north-south. Allowing for a rampart of normal size, the area available for occupation would be around 5 acres. The defences consisted of two V-shaped ditches to the north, both about 14ft wide and 7½ft deep, and no trace of a rampart have been discovered. To the south, each of the two ditches were 10ft wide and 6ft deep. Within the enclosure, excavations revealed a stone-walled pit and a gutter lined with wood running parallel to the line of the defences.
All these facts indicate that the fort was of the timber-built variety and was probably the first permanent structure to be built by the Romans in this area as a base of operations for expeditions beyond the river. The fort probably continued to be garrisoned until the scene of military campaigning had moved further north. There are excellent views of the river to the north and south so the site was no doubt chosen to command the river crossing to the north and to watch over the country beyond the river. It reasonable to assume that the auxiliary fort at Wroxeter was immediately preceded by the campaign fortress at Eaton Constantine, which is situated just over 2½ miles to the south-east.
Part of a Roman military tombstone depicting a mounted horseman riding down an enemy was recovered just north of the Viroconium basilica and shows that the fort housed a Cohors Equitata of Thracians. It was probably the first permanent fort to be built in the area in AD 50. The infantry element of this specialised auxiliary unit would be housed in a defensible fort guarding the river bridge, whilst its cavalry wing would be busily employed patrolling the supply road to the east and the road over the river to the south.
Yarchester Villa (SJ607009)
Excavations at villa
This consisted of rooms arranged around a central courtyard and it may have been fronted by a colonnade. Part of the villa had a hypocaust system and it would appear that the villa was at least partly roofed with lozenge shaped slates. A late 4th Century mosaic was discovered in the room that was most likely the dining room and a variety of pottery sherds from domestic vessels have also been found.