Caerwent © David Gill
The Roman town of Venta Silurum at Caerwent, Wales, has impressive walls as well as the excavated remains of some the public buildings.
The original Ministry guidebook was prepared by Oswin E. Craster. It follows the standard format of History and Description, with a foldout plan inside the back cover. The later editions contained a reconstruction of the town by Alan Sorrell.
This was replaced by a Cadw guide by Richard J. Brewer. This contained a history followed by a tour guide. There is a foldout plan inside the back card cover. There are numerous colour illustrations including finds from the site.
A second edition of the guide, in larger format, was published in 1997.
1993 (2nd ed. 1997)
A third edition in a yet larger format appeared in 2006. This contains details of recent excavations at the site.
The new guide also included a section on the nearby Llanmelin Wood Hillfort.
1993 (2nd ed. 1996; 3rd ed. 2006)
I have noted before the 1922 Office of Works guide to Old Sarum. In 1965 H. de S. Shortt prepared an illustrated guide to Old Sarum for the MPBW in the format that had been produced in the 1950s for other sites in State Guardianship. The cover is based on the 1819 map prepared by Henry Wansey. One of the first features is a double page spread (pp. 4–5) providing a plan for the castle, the outer bailey and the original cathedral. The guide starts with the situation, noting paintings by John Constable (reproduced in the centre pages), before moving into the historical outline with sub-sections on prehistory, Roman-Britain, Anglo-Saxon, Norman, and then later periods. It includes reconstructions by Alan Sorrell. There is then a guide to the remains, both the inner bailey, as well as the old cathedral. There are two appendices: A note on the name of Old Sarum; Saint Osmund; Excavaions at or adjoining Old Sarum.
Derek Renn prepared the English Heritage guide (1994). The two main sections are ‘What to see’ (no longer, ‘a tour’ or ‘a description’), and ‘The story of Old Sarum’ (not ‘a history’). A pictorial ‘tour’ is provided in the centre pages. It contains sections on prehistory, Rome, as well as the Normans. One section addresses ‘From city to rotten borough’.
Renn had earlier prepared the MPBW souvenir guide to Shell Keeps in Devon and Cornwall (1969), and the English Heritage guidebooks for Orford and Framlingham Castles (1988), Goodrich Castle (1993).
The latest English Heritage guide is by John McNeill, with fold out plans inside the front and back covers. The two main sections are the tour, and a history, with features on the demolition of the cathedral and beneath the ramparts, showing some of the early investigations of the site.
Inscription from Caistor St Edmund, Norwich Castle © David Gill
In 1931 Donald Atkinson discovered a fragmentary Latin inscription cut on a piece of limestone (Collingwood, R. G., and M. V. Taylor. “Roman Britain in 1931.” The Journal of Roman Studies, 22, 1932, p. 226. JSTOR). It was found at a depth of 1 foot and 6 inches [c. 45 cm] ‘beside the road flanking the east side of the forum’. Atkinson suggested that it could be linked to the construction or refurbishment of the forum.
The inscription may have read, ADAT / SVPE (RIB 214). It can be seen in Norwich Castle Museum.
London, Roman Amphitheatre © David Gill
The amphitheatre of Londinium lies in the north-west of the Roman town. It was discovered near to the Guildhall in the City of London in 1988 as part of the development of the area prior to the creation of the new Guildhall Art Gallery.
The amphitheatre appears to date to c. AD 74 or 75 based on dendrochronology. One of the timbers from the seating had Latin markings. The structure was adapted in the 90s, and expanded, in stone, during the reign of the emperor Hadrian.
Some of the remains have been preserved (and scheduled) in the basement of the Art Gallery. Visitors enter from the east through the main entrance. The sense of space has been recreated by lit displays.
See here for an earlier guide to the remains of Roman London.
The Newport Arch forms the northern gateway of the Roman colonia of Lincoln. It is one of the most important pieces of extant Roman architecture in Britain. However it does seem to be vulnerable to lorries. A feature on the excavations at Lincoln appeared in a special number of Current Archaeology (May 1971; Christina Colyer, ‘Lincoln, pp. 67=71), and the cover showed the damage in 1964. The gate has been struck again today.
Local authorities need to restrict access to these important parts of our heritage.
English Heritage has issued a guidebook written by Professor Michael Fulford, excavator of the Roman town (2016). It replaces a series of earlier guides to the town.
Inside the front cover is a foldout plan indicating walking routes around the site. Inside the back is a plan of the Roman town and earlier Iron Age defences.
The guidebook includes a tour of the site, and is followed by a history. There are special features on: religion; the water supply and the force pump; dogs; diet; industry; the Ogham stone; the Victorian rubbish pit; and the Silchester collection at Reading Museum.
Caerwent © David Gill
The honorific inscription to Tiberius Claudius Paulinus, legate of the II Augustan legion, was recovered from Caerwent in south Wales (RIB 311). It is now displayed in the parish church of St Stephen and Tathan (see guidebook). Paulinus, who had been based at the nearby legionary fortress at Caerleon, subsequently became governor of Britannia Inferior in 220 (and recorded in an inscription from the fort at High Rochester, RIB 1280).
The decree was set up as a result of a decree passed by the ordo or council of the Silures. It is particularly important as it provides details of the career of Paulinus, including governorships in two separate provinces of Gaul.