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Cirencester Amphitheatre

Cirencester, Gloucestershire

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The earthwork remains of one of the largest Roman amphitheatres in Britain, built in the early 2nd century. It served the Roman city of Corinium (now Cirencester), then second only in size and importance to London, and had a capacity of around 8,000 spectators. Later fortified against Saxon invaders.

Corinium Dobunnorum known today as Cirencester was the second largest town in the Roman province of Britannia, which is believed to have had a population of around 15,000 at the time. A roman fort was established about a year after the Roman conquest and continued as a local centre until early 60AD, however it appears to have been abandoned by the military by the mid 70's and it became a capital instead. A street grid was laid out and a large number of stone buildings, two market places, shops and private houses were established and this development continued until the 4th century. The town was fortified in the late 2nd century with five access gates and polygonal towers. No public baths have been found in Cirencester however there is evidence of a system of wooden water pipes which could indicate there was an aqueduct at some point.

The amphitheatre stands to the south-east of the town and was built on the site of an old quarry. Stone walls were added in the early 2nd century, but there are no sign of these today. It is believed that they collapsed and the complex was largely rebuilt to include small chambers around the circuit, it is not know what they would have been used for, but suggestions include animal or convict cells or small shrines. The two curving mounds enclose a central area which would have been used for shows and entertainment, on these mounds originally would have been planking and dry stone walls supporting the wooden seating for spectators. Originally the seating banks would have been 10 metres high, had tiered seats with an area behind for standing spectators. An estimated 8,000 or more people it is believed could have been accommodated.

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For all the above, which show different views from around the amphitheatre site. The top left being the path from the road into the middle of the amphitheatre.

The amphitheatre today is looked after by English Heritage although there is free access to all. In fact it is a thoroughfare for locals to get to the town centre and to walk their dogs. It is known locally as the 'Bull Ring' thought to have come about from it's use in the 18th century for bull-baiting contests.

Finding the amphitheatre can be a challenge. It is signposted with a single brown tourist sign from the dual carriage way, the A419, that goes around the town. You need to be heading away from town out on the A419 to Stroud and take the road on the left into Chesterton Lane (now the signs end) follow this road down to a fork, take Cotswold Avenue on the left after a few large road humps and houses on both sides the amphitheatre is on your left. You can park in Cotswold Avenue and walk into the Amphitheatre from here.

Once there although at first sight appears to be grass mounds, it is impressive the height of the mounds are large, when stood in the centre you get the feeling of the crowds around you and get an idea of what it must have felt like for those taking part. On top of the mounds you can see views over to Cirencester town itself and the spire of the church. Cirencester is also a nice market town to visit.

Other Roman Attractions in Cirencester

Within Cirencester there is also the Corinium Museum, which holds some of the treasures of Cotswold History and depicts Roman Life in Cirencester. Behind the St John the Baptist church in the Market Place you will also find the Abbey Grounds which until dissolution in 1539 when it was completely demolished was the home of St Mary's Abbey. Today the abbey is only visible by an outline of paving stones. Also within these grounds you will find a lake home to a large population of wildfowl, trees, a bandstand on which bands perform through the summer months and a section of a Roman Wall.

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A view of the Church from the top of one of the Amphitheatres mounds taken at 200mm. Behind the church are the remains of a section of a Roman Wall.

Further information Grid



Cirencester Amphitheatre, Cirencester, Gloucestershire

Ceremonial County: Gloucestershire

Grid Reference:


Map Link:


Aerial photo: Multimap Aerial Photo    Google Aerial Photo



Best Times to Visit:





English Heritage

Other useful websites:



Nearby Locations:

Corinium Museum, Cirencester, Gloucestershire

Chedworth Roman Villa, Gloucestershire

Great Witcombe Roman Villa, Gloucestershire

Other Relevant pages:

Roman Britain

Roman Amphitheatres in Britain

Gloucestershire Attractions



Planning Grid


Cirencester Amphitheatre, Cirencester, Gloucestershire

Grid Reference:


Getting there:

Off the A419 heading out of Cirencester towards Stroud. Take the road on your left into Chesterton Lane (brown tourist sign here), follow this road down to a fork, take Cotswold Avenue on the left then after a few large road humps and houses on both sides, the amphitheatre is on your left.


From Cotswold Avenue through a gate.


No restrictions within Cotswold Avenue



Things To Do, See and Photograph:

Amphitheatre mounds, views of Cirencester from top of mounds.

What to take:


Nature highlights:







01452 396572

Opening times:

All year


Free access

Photo Restrictions:


Other Restrictions: None
Special Needs Access: small tarmac/grit path before you are on grass, which is relatively flat ground.
Special Needs Facilities: None
Children Facilities: Lots of open space to run around in
Dogs Allowed: Yes

Please let us know any other information that we can add to the Further information and Planning Grids or page and any errors that you discover. Before making a long trip to any location it is always wise to double check the current information, websites like magazines may be correct at the time the information is written, but things change and it is of course impossible to double check all entries on a regular basis. If you have any good photographs that you feel would improve the illustration of this page then please let us have copies. In referring to this page it is helpful if you quote both the Page Ref and Topic or Section references from the Grid below. To print the planning grid select it then right click and print the selected area.

Please submit information on locations you discover so that this system continues to grow.


By: Keith Park Section: Roman Britain Section Key:
Page Ref: cirencester_amphitheatre Topic: Roman Britain Last Updated: 07/2008

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