Venta Icenorum – Caistor Roman Town

Venta Icenorum is an archaeological site and the remains of a Roman town located near modern-day Caistor St Edmund in Norfolk England.

The town was built in a region controlled by the Iron Age Iceni tribe, who inhabited the flatlands and marshes of present-day Norfolk and Suffolk. Archaeologists have located the remains of an Iron Age settlement, possibly Iceni just adjacent to the Roman town, consisting of enclosures and roundhouse platforms.

The Iceni were instrumental in the tribal revolts against Roman occupation under their Queen Boudica in AD 61, which led to the destruction of Londinium (London), Camulodunum (Colchester) and Verulamium (St Albans).

After the tribal revolt was crushed and the native Iceni pacified, Venta Icenorum was established as a civitas capital around AD70 and was laid out with streets and insulae on a grid pattern. The town functioned as a principal economic, cultural and administrative centre for the region in the new Roman province.

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Image Credit : Matt Squirrell – CC BY 2.0

Venta Icenorum consisted of a large 30m square forum surrounded by an internal colonnade, a basilica, a palaestra (a public place for athletics or wrestling) with a frigidarium and circular laconium, shops, temples and various villa complexes that covered an area of around 120 acres. To the south of the town, are the suspected remains of an oval amphitheater as indicated in aerial surveys.

During the 3rd century AD, the town was enclosed in ramparts, ditches, and a wall built from flint and stone with tile coursing. Each side of the town had a central gateway and additional semi-circular or rectangular bastions.

The town began to decline in the 4th century AD, with a number of buildings being destroyed by the end of the 4th or early 5th century. The site was still occupied from the early 6th century, during the early part of the Anglo-Saxon period, but the Roman buildings and infrastructure were eventually left to ruin and abandonment.

Header Image Credit : John Fielding

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is an award winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education and the BCA Medal of Honour.

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