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This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Hypocaustum in Verulamium
Hypocaustum in Verulamium

Verulamium is a Roman city in Britain, located on the site of an earlier Catuvellauni settlement known as Verlamion.

Verlamion, situated on the River Ver, was the seat of the Catuvellauni king. The Romans conquered the settlement during the conquest of Britain around 44-45. Its strategic location, at the intersection of the route from Londinium to Lactodurum (now Towcester) and the road to Camulodunum / Colonia Claudia Victricensis, meant that around 50 CE a Roman city was established in its place Verulamium.

One of the mosaics in the Verulamium museum.

The township was rebuilt twice. During the revolt of Boudica in the years 60-61, they were completely burned, and after about 15 years, during the reign of Titus Flavius ​​Vespasian, they were rebuilt. Then, around 155, i.e. during the reign of Emperor Antonius Pius, it was consumed by a fire, and then it was once again restored to its former glory.

Important administration centre

Verulamium quickly became an important administrative centre of Roman Britain, where it was initially the second and then the third-largest city. For some time, it even served as the provincial capital. Initially, it was dominated by wooden buildings, but with time, more and more areas of the city were filled with brick buildings. A number of public utility buildings were erected in Verulamium, including a large forum with an inscription devoted to the governor of Britain Julius Agrykola (Tacitus’ mother-in-law), basilica, theatre, many temples (one of them located near the so-called London Gate had a specific, triangular atrium) – including some of the temples of the Roman-Roman character Gaelic. Two triumphal arches were also erected in Verulamium. In the 3rd century, the city was surrounded by stone and brick walls.

Walls in Verulamium.

Sant Albans and the fall of Verulamium

According to a legend, Saint Alban of England – an alleged convert to Christianity, a Roman soldier – was to be executed in the city.

After Roman legions left Britain in 410, the city remained inhabited. For some time, efforts were made to repair water pipes and public buildings. However, over time, Verulamium began to depopulate.

Roman cassis in the Verulamium museum.

Migration from the city gained momentum, especially after the founding of Sant Albans on the opposite bank of Ver. It was there that the rest of the inhabitants of the abandoned municipality would eventually move, which became simply a source of building materials for the new settlement.

Verulamium today

It is now possible to visit much of the former city of Verulamium. However, due to the fact that only part of it has been examined so far, the discovered objects are: the ruins of the Roman theatre from 140, significant fragments of city fortifications, including the so-called London Gate, relics of a Roman house with a perfectly preserved hypocaustum and a mosaic floor, relics of a Roman-Celtic temple, remains of shops located by the theatre and the base of the triumphal arch. Artefacts discovered during excavations in Verulamium can be admired in the local museum, which also has a rich collection of mosaics found in Roman houses located throughout the city.

Verulamium Theater.
Author: Krzysztof Kaucz (translated from Polish: Jakub Jasiński)

Author’s photos.

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