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Verulamium

St Albans, Hertfordshire

It is believed that Verulamium was the third-largest city in Roman Britain. It was sited to the southwest of St Albans and is now park and agricultural land, though parts have also been built on. A large portion of the city remains unexcavated. It was built beside the River Ver. There are a few remains of the Roman city visible today, such as parts of the city walls and a hypocaust and theatre.

A roman settlement since around 50AD it grew to a significant township by the early 200's when it covered about 125 acres behind a deep ditch and wall. Amongst its structures it had a forum, basilica and a theatre, most of which were destroyed by fires in 155AD and again in 250Ad. The town itself being rebuilt at least twice over the next 150 years. By around 300 it is believed up to ten aristocratic families had estates here. The Romans left the city somewhen between 400 and 450AD. Much of the building materials on the site were re-used in the building of St Albans, much of it believed to have been used in the building of the Norman Abbey. Much of St Albans and its environs is built over Roman remains and in the 1970's a complete tile kiln was found in Park Street some 6 miles away.

Parts of the Roman Town you can see today are on opposite sides of the A4147 and  includes:

  • A Roman Theatre (on the west side)

  • Roman Villa

  • Roman City Walls

  • The Roman Museum

Most of the Roman Town is on the East side in Verulamium Park.

Roman Villa

A walk across parkland from the museum takes you to the mosaic floor and hypocaust, underground heating system, of an excavated villa. The hypocuast and mosaic floor can be seen in a building in Verulaium Park and it brings to life the scale of a major town house. It displays one of the first heating systems to be installed and is believed to be 1800 years old. It was first uncovered in 1930. They are in their original location and are believed to have formed part of the reception and meeting rooms of the large house which would have stood here, probably part of a suite about double the size of what can be seen today. The Hypcaust building is open during museum opening hours and has free entry.

  Hypocaust Mosaic

Roman City Walls

The Roman City walls originally around the town were constructed around AD 275, and 4 large gateways would have controlled the four main entrances into the town. It was built from flint, brick, flint rubble and mortar and was over 10ft thick at foundation level and 7ft thick higher up. In total the completed wall covered two and a quarter miles. Today a short walk from the Verulamium Museum you can see some remains of these walls which in fact is the core of the original as well as the London Gate excavated foundations which are open to view.

Roman Wall - Verulamium Park 

Verulamium lake and
                       Roman wall remains

The Roman Museum

The Verulamium Park museum contains much information about the town, both as a Roman and Iron Age settlement, plus Roman history in general. It is noted for its large and colourful mosaics decorated with dolphins, lions, stags and flower patterns, from the excavations, and intricate ceiling paintings in rich brown and red pigments.  It also has displays of many artefacts such as pottery, tools and coins from the Roman town as well as coffins and other remains unearthed in the surrounding area during 20th century building works. It is considered one of the best museums of Roman history in the country using recreated roman rooms, hands-on discovery areas, video presentations, and touch screen databases, and its domed entrance has won an architectural award. Every second weekend of the month Roman Soldiers can be found on site demonstrating the tactics and equipment that would have been used by the Roman Imperial Army.

Dave Skinner


Further information Grid

 

Location:

Verulium, St Albans, Hertfordshire

Ceremonial County: Hertfordshire

Grid Reference:

TL136073

Map Link:

Multimap

Aerial photo: Multimap Aerial Photo       Google Aerial Photo

Route(s):

 

Best Times to Visit:

 

E-mail:

museums@stalbans.gov.uk

Website:

www.stalbansmuseums.org.uk/Sites/Verulamium-Museum

Other useful websites:

www.roman-britain.org/places/verulamium.htm

Nearby Locations: Verulamium Roman Theatre
Other Relevant pages: Roman Britain

Classification:

Roman

Date Updated: 07/2008
 

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Planning Grid

Location:

Verulium, St Albans, Hertfordshire

Grid Reference:

TL136073

Getting there:

On the western outskirts of St Albans just of the A4147 in Verulamium Park

Access:

Roman Walls and Hypocaust are in the park with a path leading to them from the car park

Parking:

 

Facilities:

No refreshments in museum, cafe in park.

Things To Do, See and Photograph:

 

What to take:

 

Nature highlights:

 

Address:

Verulamium Museum

St Michael's Street

St Albans

Hertfordshire

Postcode:

AL3 4SW

Telephone:

01727 751810

Opening times:

All year daily, except between Christmas and new year.

Mon-Sat 10am-5.30pm and Sun 2pm-5.30pm

Charges:

Adults 3.30; Children, Students and Seniors 2. Under 5's free.
Residents of St Albans and Friends of Museum - Free

Photo Restrictions:

 

Other Restrictions:  
Special Needs Access: Full wheelchair access to all areas of the museum
Special Needs Facilities: toilets
Children Facilities:  
Dogs Allowed:  

CIN Page Ref:

verulamium

Date Updated: 07/2008

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