Archaeological finds from the Roman town of Verulamium have been uncovered in St Albans. Recent gas main works in Verulamium Park revealed the location of the corner of the town wall and a previously unknown house – the area was formerly believed to have been the location for a road. Verulamium was the third largest city in Roman Britain and the area has been mapped through various excavations over the years.

Remains of Opus Signinum floor

The remains of an Opus Signinum floor – made of tiles broken into very small pieces – were also uncovered. Mr Simon West, district archaeologist for St Albans City and District Council’s museum service, said:

Two of the holes have produced significant archaeology, which is very exciting. One near the park’s running track has hit the very corner of the wall around the Roman city.

However, there is no evidence of a corner tower – this is significant as it suggests that the wall was built for show as well as for defence purposes. At another hole, close to the museum car park, we have found evidence of the interior of a Roman town house.

Some history about Verulamium

Verulamium was a town in Roman Britain. It was sited in the southwest of the modern city of St Albans in Hertfordshire, Great Britain. A large portion of the Roman city remains unexcavated, being now park and agricultural land, though much has been built upon (see below). The ancient Watling Street passed through the city. Much of the site and its environs is now classed as a scheduled ancient monument.

Before the Romans established their settlement, there was already a tribal centre in the area which belonged to the Catuvellauni. This settlement is usually called Verlamion. The etymology is uncertain but the name has been reconstructed as *Uerulāmion, [wiki] which would have a meaning like “[the tribe or settlement] of the broad hand” (Uerulāmos) in Brittonic. In this pre-Roman form, it was among the first places in Britain recorded by name. The settlement was established by Tasciovanus, who minted coins there.

The Roman settlement was granted the rank of municipium around AD 50, meaning its citizens had what were known as “Latin Rights”, a lesser citizenship status than a colonia possessed. It grew to a significant town, and as such received the attentions of Boudica of the Iceni in 61, when Verulamium was sacked and burnt on her orders: a black ash layer has been recorded by archaeologists, thus confirming the Roman written record.

 

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