In the C1AD The Roman general Vespasian conquered the hill forts of southern England, this included perhaps the most famous of iron age fortifications in England, Maiden Castle. Some of the inhabitants were forcibly moved from the hill fort to nearby land which the Romans chose as a new site for the tribal capital of the Durotriges. The town of Durnovaria (Dorchester) gradually expanded in the C2 to include a forum, and the nearby henge monument of Maumbury Rings was adapted for use as an amphtheatre. Turbulence followed in the C3 and walls were erected, a section of which can still be seen.
Durnovaria appears to have prospered during the early to mid C4 as can be attested by the large town house, among the best surviving example in England. Located near to the town walls, the house consisted of several rooms including a main hall (with mosaic floors)and ancillary rooms. The site was uncovered during excavations in the late 30’s and has since been preserved within a glass building. Several inhumations were discovered, including an infant. Child mortality was high in the Roman period and usually the dead were buried outside Roman walls as it was the Roman custom. This is therefore a rare example. The site is well illustrated and is worth a visit.
Fig.1. Plan of site, not to scale. Several inhumations were discovered including an infant.
Author: Jeremy Fazzalaro
Photographs: taken by author
Site Plan: author using SketchUp (first attempt)