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Aldborough Roman Town, N.Yorkshire:


Andover Museum of the Iron Age:

Although not concentrating on the Roman era, this extremely interesting museum was developed around the discoveries which were made during the extensive excavations of the Iron Age hill fort at Danebury in Hampshire. The displays incorporate full scale reconstructions and exhibits depicting the way of life, and death, of people living in Iron Age Hampshire.

Arbeia Roman Fort, South Shields: Tyne and Wear Museum:


Suggested reconstruction of the Commandant's house at Arbeia. Photo © S Jones.

Bath, The Roman Baths:

Aquae Sulis, the thermal sanctuary of the goddess Sulis Minerva.

This elaborate complex of religious buildings was constructed around the perpetual hot spring, revered even before the Romans. During the early occupation of Britain by Rome, the site was developed as one of the most important native sanctuaries in the empire. It is likely that the walled area, of the supposed Roman town, is in fact a large religious compund built around a series of hot springs, which would have included apart from the temple and its great baths complex, houses for priests, baths, markets and lodging houses for pilgrims. The musuem contains extensive sections of the ruined baths and the temple forecourt, along with sculptures and artefacts from the excavations, including the famous carved pediment from the entrance facade of the temple.

Bignor Roman Villa:

One of the largest Roman country houses ever exposed in Britain. Its primary claim to fame are the intricate series of mosaic floors, including exquisite figured work. Originally exposed in the early 19th century, they are among the finest mosaics yet found from Roman Britain. The history of the villa is long and complicated, developing from an early modest farming villa into a sumptuous 4th century mansion, intended for the pleasurable activities of the more wealthy section of Romano-British society. An extensive range of baths in the south wing would imply that entertaining on a grand scale once formed a major part of life in this magnificent house.

Binchester Fort and Baths, Co. Durham

Possibly Roman Vinovia, a cavalry fort of around 9 acres originally founded by Agricola in the 1st century. The eastern and northern ramparts survive as substantial earth mounds. The more interesting part of the site is the well preserved heated rooms forming part of the 4th century commandant's house (praetorium) and its baths. Beneath a covered building is one of the best examples of a hypocaust system to be seen in Britain, part of the commandant's private bath suite. The remains incorporate three arches for conducting heat beneath the floors and a complete range of flues around the walls of the hot room (caldarium), the cement floor of which remains intact.

Birdoswald Fort:

The fort of Banna, part of the Hadrianic frontier, is arguably one of the most spectularly located forts along the line of the wall, being sited above a sweeping bend high above the river Irthing. The fort is undoubtedly the best preserved along Hadrian's Wall, even though the greater part of it still remains buried. The remains of its headquarters building (principia) partially examined in the 1930's, exposed walling over eight feet in height. If ever revealed, the central quarter at Birdoswald would surpass the great baths at Chesters. Nevertheless, the east gate house is impressive, as is part of the collapsed defensive wall nearby. There are also well preserved granaries which have revealed occupation on the site after the abandonment of the wall. There is a fine visitor and educational centre at the site.

Brading Roman Villa (Isle Of Wight):

Located a few miles north of Sandown, on the isle of Wight, is the enigmatic and fascinating villa at Brading. Known principally for the tantalising imagery of its mosaic floors, the villa is one of the best preserved in Britain. Recent excavations exposed the fallen north wall of the main house, which has helped with the research on the architecture of Roman Villas in Britain. Originally exposed in the 1880's, the site has recently undergone extensive re-examination and a state of the art cover building has been constructed over the remains of the principle house. The villa would originally have enjoyed fine vistas over the sea, and appears to have once had its own harborage in a tidal inlet not far from its entrance courtyard.

Bridport Museum, Dorset:

A small but interesting local museum, important for the fine collection of Roman artefacts held there, most especially the 1st century military equipment and displays relating to the excavations on Waddon Hill dating from the Roman invasion. The assemblage of military pieces is one of the finest in southern England. There are also full scale reconstructions of some of the equipment to compare with the original pieces.

Butser Ancient Farm:

Originally established as a long term research site by the late Dr. Peter Reynolds to study the agriculture and rural industry of the later Iron Age. This important site incorporates a number of timber round houses and field enclosures as an educational centre. More recently an experimental full scale Roman rural house has also been built on site.

Caerleon Fortress and Legionary Museum:

Isca, the fortress of Legio II Augusta. The final base for the legion which invaded in AD 43 under the command of the future emperor Vespasian. This is the best displayed fortresss in northern Europe with large tracts of its perimeter wall and embankments exposed on its west and south sides along with turrets, barracks, part of the huge fortress baths and the most spectacular ampitheatre in Britain. There is a fine museum in the centre of the village, approximately at the centre of the fortress itself.

Cardiff Castle(Roman Fort):

In the centre of the city of Cardiff lies a sequence of Roman coastal forts, the final of which has been gothically restored by the Marquis of Bute at the end of the 19th century. The surviving Roman outer stonework has been capped with a light red stone to delineate the original structure, above which is a Victorian interpretation of what a late Roman fort could have looked like. The inner facade of the north gate is impressive and reasonably accurate in its restoration. The inner surface of the south wall is exposed in a tunnel cut beneath its inner rampart, and it is possible to walk around the upper rampart on the south and east walls.

Carmarthen Castle:

Roman Moridunum, the tribal capital of the Demetae. There are some slight earthworks in the surrounding fields and half of the ampitheatre is all that can be seen today. A large Romano-Celtic temple has been discovered in the town along with traces of some shops and minor houses. There is a fine display of Roman material from the town in the Carmarthen Museum at nearby Abergwilli.

Chedworth Villa: National Trust:

One of the most famous rural sites from Roman Britain, having been available to the public since 1864. The discovery of this site is the well known rabbit burrowing story where mosaic cubes had been cast out from the barrow and recovered by the estate gamekeeper. Two well preserved bath houses and many mosaic floors led the antiquarian diggers to assume it to be a wealthy Roman country house. The site is still promoted as a Roman villa, a large house at the centre of an agricultural estate. However, the unusual location of the building , set up in a small steep sided valley, and the extensive arrangement of accomodation in its two side wings, along with a substantial latrine and undoubted temples in the immediate surroundings has led to doubt that it is a villa after all, but the centre of an important and rich rural sanctuary.

Chesters Roman Fort: English Heritage:

The Roman cavalry wall fort of Cilurnum, set in a most beautiful undulating landscape. The remains include two gate houses, a well preserved commandant's house (praetorium), the headquarters building (principia) with intact subterranean strong room and fine barrack blocks. On the slope below the fort is the best preserved Roman bath house in Britain. On the opposite side of the river (accessible only from the main road), is the well preserved abutments of the bridge which carries Hadrian's Wall across the North Tyne. The site museum is a gem, being a preserved antiquarian collection of all the material recovered by John Clayton in the 19th century. This museum is now a monument in its own right.

Corbridge Roman Fort and Town: English Heritage:

Established at the intersection of Roman Dere Street and the Stangate Frontier, which proceeded the construction of Hadrian's Wall. A sequence of forts incorporating a major supply depot, eventully developed into an impressive town of some pretension approached from the south by a magnificent bridge over the River Tyne. Today only part of the central area is exposed for visitors, but none the less, it is still very impressive and contains unique remains from Roman Britain, including the best preserved granaries in the country and a public fountain of Mediterranean type. There is a fine musuem on the site containing some of the best sculptures recovered from the temples and other buildings in the town.

Corinium Museum, Cirencester:


Inside Corinium Museum, Photo © Cirencester Museum.

Chysauster Ancient Village:

The most westerly site that is visible in Britain. A sequence of stone-built circular houses has been preserved.

Dolaucothi Mines:

A huge quarry gouged from the hillside to extract gold ore. Residual surface features survive above the quarry and there are extensive subterranean galleries. There is a larger settlement nearby as yet unexplored, and a fort located to protect the mine's output was found beneath the adjacent village of Pumpsaint in 1972. A full scale reproduction of a water pump wheel has been constructed as part of the display, based on Roman fragments found in one of the lower galleries. There is an excellent museological display on site.

Dorchester/Dorset County Museum:

Roman Durnovaria, tribal capital of the Durotriges. Built to replace the native stronghold of Maiden castle a few miles to the south and which was besiaged by the Legio II Augusta under Vespasian. A small Roman temple is displayed inside the colossal ramparts of the hillfort, the largest in Britain. Of the town itself only the earthen banks of its little ampitheatre and a fine town house at the rear of the civic offices at Colliton Park can be seen today. Unfortunately, a modern cover structure built onto the Roman house walls masks the remains and spoils the formerly exposed sweep of the series of rooms, many of which were floored with fine mosaics. A side wing has been left exposed with an adjacent well. The County Museum in the High Street has a fine display of Iron Age and Roman artefacts, including several mosaics.

Dover Painted House:

Roman Dubris, a natural harbour developed under Rome as the principle port of entry into Britannia, replacing Richborough, the earlier port. Two massive lighthouses formally stood on the headlands either side of the harbour entrance, only half of one survives today in the enclosure of Dover castle. Part of a well preserved civil building, partly demolished and buried beneath the embankment of a later fort, has been uncovered for permanent display; The Painted House retains decorated walls and underfloor heating. There is also a fine museum near the town centre.

Fishbourne Roman Palace:

A few miles west of Chichester is a huge palatial and administrative residence completed around AD 80, generally excepted to have been the final residence of the client king Togodubnus. Adorned with mosaics and marble veneered walls, it is the largest house found from Roman Britain and is comparable with the palaces of the emperors in Rome itself. The palace would have covered an area in excess of 10 acres and descended on terraces to its own harbour. Part of its central garden has been restored utilising the original bedding trenches which were identified in the excavations. A major rebuilding, and equipping of the extensive cover buildings and museum, is being planned.

Housesteads Roman Fort:

Something of a strenous climb up the side of the steep hill on a well maintained terrace path, but ultimately worth the effort, as this is the only fort along the line of Hadrian's Wall which has been almost completely exposed for visitors. It also has one of the more spectacular views with the wall itself disappearing over precipitous crags. Most of the buildings displayed are 4th century but the headquarters building is late 2nd to 3rd century. The largest and best preserved latrine from Roman Britain lies at the south-west.

Littlecote Roman Villa:

Two miles west of Hungerford, just inside the Wiltshire border and in the parkland of Littlecote House, are the main remains of the only fully exposed villa compound in Britain. It is a site of some controversy over the interpretation of its now restored mosaic, which is considered by the excavators to be the floor of a ritual chamber associated with the cult of Bacchus. The building in which the mosaic was laid is unquestionably unique in Britain and closely resembles the form of later Byzantine churches. Other aspects of the architecture on the other wings of the villa are also suggestive of an imaginative architect at work in the 4th century, especially the massive gatehouse, the largest yet found on any villa in Britain. There is a display of material and artefacts from the excavations in Littlecote House, now a country hotel, and a fully illustrated guide book is available in the hotel gift shop.

Littlecote Roman Villa,The Orpheus Mosaic. Photo © B.V. Hill.

London: Museum of London:

There are several sites to see around the city, the temple of Mithras in Queen Victoria Street, various points of the Roman city wall, part of the ampitheatre at the Guuildhall, but the gem is the Museum of London near the Barbican, sited at London Wall. The museum houses almost all the finds from the Roman city, though some pieces are in the British Museum. There are full scale reconstructions of rooms and shops and excellent models, examples of some of the fine burials that have been discovered and the sculptural treasures from the temple of Mithras.

Lunt Fort:

Located at Baginton near Coventry. A short lived and complex sequence of timber-built forts dating to the mid-first century. A large part of the outer embankment and timber gateway has been fully restored along with a granary, housing a small museum display. Also reconstructed is a large circular structure which projects throught the alignment of the defences, and has been interpreted as a gyrus, a compound for training horses for use in battle.

The Lunt Roman Fort: ARA members visiting the reconstructed granary. Photo © G. Soffe.

Lullingstone Roman Villa:

An enigmatic 'villa' on the River Darenth near Eynsford in Kent. The principal building is exposed beneath a permanent cover structure with a raised viewing gallery. The site remains somewhat controversial as it is rather short of living rooms and the foundations are too narrow to have supported an upper story. The building has revealed undoubted religious chambers linked by corridors and staircases, a large central mosaic which floors a hall for communal dining, and a bath suite that lies across an open court. Behind the 'house' a temple was discovered with a mausoleum beneath. Fine sculptured heads, now in the British Museum, had been deposited in a sealed cult chamber with a Christian meeting room above it.

Newport Villa (Isle Of Wight):

A small but very well preserved villa house, found when a residential estate was being constructed over the site early in the 20th century. The site is surrounded by houses today and can be difficult to find, but is well worth the effort, as it is one of the best preserved Roman houses on display in Britain. The remains of a very rare and fine example of a hooded fireplace was found in one of the living rooms. There is also a well preserved bath range with fragments of mosaic still in-situ. Full scale simulations built on top of parts of the house give a reasonably good appearance of the interior of a Roman rural dwelling.

Novium Museum, Chichester:

Many Chichester residents have fond memories of the 18th-century disused corn store in Little London, where the museum was previously situated. The new museum provides an improved service for local and international visitors and better presents the rich heritage of the Chichester District.

Orpington Roman Villa:

Part of a wing fronted villa house, partially damaged by earlier road construction, was saved from further development and put on display to the public. A custom-built cover building was built by the excavators for this purpose.

Pevensey Castle:

Anderita, one of the chain of forts of the Saxon shore, is unlike the other shore forts as it is oval in plan. Originally constructed on an island isthmus, it now lies inland. Parts of its perimeter wall is very well preserved and the west gate is the best to have survived from the Roman period anywhere in Britain. The fort is one of the few sites which is known to have fallen to the Saxons in AD 491, later becoming a medieval castle, the towers and keep of which stand impressively in one corner.

Piddington Roman Villa Museum:

Housed in a converted chapel in the village of Piddington, in Northamptonshire, are the finds and artefacts from many seasons excavations on the large and once splendid villa discovered just outside the village. The villa appears to have been constructed over an earlier military site. The museum is run by an independent archaeological charity.

Portchester Castle:

Roman Portus Adurni located on the shore near Portsmouth is the finest Roman fortification surviving in Britain. Its walls and bastions still stand almost to their full height. A Norman castle occupies one corner and was used as a royal hunting lodge by the medieval kings.

Ribchester Fort and Museum:

Brementennacvm of the Romans, meaning 'roaring river', on the banks of which it was perilously placed. The river Ribble has eroded the east corner of the fort along with the north east and south east gates. Minor features are still visible, including the site of some granaries, and nearby, the foundations of the north east gate are visible inside a private garden. At the churchyard the mounds of the south west defences are clearly defined. Just along the river bank are the remains of part of a bath house with an adjacent well. The principle attraction is the small museum near the church which houses the material from the site. The most famous find was the Ribchester helmet which is now in the British Museum, but a replica is displayed here.

Richborough Castle:

Ruputiae is one of the most fascinating sites from Roman Britain. It is generally believed to have been the site for the landing of Claudius's legions in AD 43, though this is now being contested. Massive sections of its Saxon Shore Fort still stand, at the centre of which is the now eroded foundation for a colossal monumental four way arch built in the reign of Domitian. It stood at the commencement of Watling Street, Old Kent Road, the main route to London. A very substantial town lies buried beneath the surrounding fields, having been plotted by geophysical survey. In the 1st and early 2nd century Richborough was the principle point of entry into Britain; it gradually declined, with the development of Dover as an easier and safer harbourage.

Roman fort of the Saxon Shore at Richborough; inner face of the north wall. Photo © G. Soffe.

Rockbourne Roman Villa

Just outside Fordingbridge in Hampshire is the site of a truly representative and successful Roman farming villa of the 4th century, which is accessible to the public and school parties. Most of the other well known so-called 'villas' displayed in Britain may not have been farming establishments. Excavated by a local antiquary and a team of archaeological enthusiasts in the 1950's and 60's, the larger part of the site has been reburied to preserve its walls from decay. The mosaics are displayed in their original setting from spring to autumn and the plans of the villa buildings are marked out in the grass. Plans are in hand to improve the display of this very significant site in the near future. There is an excellent museum on site with well illustrated graphics and the principle artefacts from the excavations.

Rowley House Museum, Shrewsbury:

Present day Shrewsbury contains artefacts from the Roman city of nearby Wroxeter in its Rowley House Museum, including a replica of the magnificent Wroxeter Roman mirror.

Senhouse Museum, Maryport:

The museum is contained in a 19th century coastal battery alongside the well preserved, but buried, remains of the fort, built above the Solway Firth. A high level viewing point gives a fine view over the earth contoured remains of the fort and its vicus, which is privately owned and not accesible. The museum itself houses the largest private collection of Roman inscripions in Britain collected by the Senhouse family.

Trimontium Museum:

Sadly there are no surface indications on the surface of the fields today to signify the supreme importance of this Roman military site, the principle base for Agricola's campaigns and arguably the most important Roman site in Scotland after the Antonine Wall. The Trimontium Trust has established a display at the Orminston Institute in Melrose with models, plans, aerial photographs and replicas of major finds from the excavations.

Roman Parade Helmet at Trimontium Museum. Photo © Trimontium Museum.

Tullie House Museum:

Has a fine collection of sculptures and other artefacts from the Roman forts and town beneath modern Carlisle, Roman Luguvalium, one of the western forts on the Stanegate frontier. There are also reconstructed shops and interactive displays. The nearby fort at Stanwix was the largest along Hadrian's Wall and was probably the headquarters for the commander of the whole northern frontier. An impressive town developed from the early vicvs outside the fort, no doubt influenced by its more prestigious neighbour on the Wall.

Verulanium Museum:

One of the most spectacular Roman museums in Britain, housing many treasures from the excavations of the surroundiing Roman city; including full height wall paintings and mosaic floors, one splendid example is displayed in a special building in the park near the Roman town wall and east gate. Artifacts from the rich late Iron Age burials found nearby are also here. Near the museum are the reamins of the only Roman theatre on display in Britain.

Wroxeter Roman City:

The Roman city of Viroconium Cornoviorum, the tribal capital of the Cornovii, began life as a fortress of the XIV legion. Its civilian history began when the military occupation withdrew around AD90, but major development did not take place until Hadrian's restructuring of Roman towns in the 2nd century. The 180 acre town included public buildings which were among the most spectacular in Britain. A massive fragment of the great baths basilica dominates the site today. Other structures are displayed including a fine row of column bases, part of the forum portico, and a rare example of a macellum (market hall). There is a fine museum display and car park.

The Yorkshire Museum:

On the north side of the River Ouse, in the public gardens, is the Yorkshire Museum, displaying some of the most important finds from the Legionary Fortress and town of Ebvracvm. Reconstructed wall paintings from Catterick, mosaics, tombstones and other inscriptions, fine sarcophagi from the town's rich burial ground, statuary (including a colossal head of the emperor Constantine I) and a fine collection of glass vessels and jewellery. Outside the museum are the most spectacular parts of the fortress defences with a superb stretch of wall, standing almost to wall-walk height, with its original facing still intact. In one corner of the defensive enclosure is the famous Multangular Tower, one of the best preserved structures from Roman Britain. Other fragments of Roman York can be found in different parts of the city, most notably in the undercroft of the Minster where part of the fortress headquarters building is displayed.