Cirencester Amphitheatre
Cirencester Amphitheatre
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Cirencester, Roman Corinium Dobunnorum, was the second largest city in Roman Britain. Set on the edge of the Cotswold Hills, by the fourth century the city had become the capital of the rich province of Britannia Prima. The wealth of the hinterland of Roman Cirencester is demonstrated by the largest concentration of villas known in Roman Britain, many of which have produced some of the finest mosaics found in the country.

This study day will explore the visible remains of Roman Cirencester and the nearby palatial villa at Chedworth. In Cirencester we will see part of the city wall and the amphitheatre followed by a visit to the Corinium Museum. The museum houses one of the finest collections of Roman material in western Britain and includes fine sculpture, inscriptions and mosaics. Highlights include the tombstone of Genialis, a cavalryman from the Balkans who was buried in Cirencester in the first century AD and the recently discovered tombstone of a local woman called Bodica. Mosaics include an ‘Orpheus’ pavement featuring a parade of exotic animals and a near complete floor with a central panel depicting a crouching hare.  

In the afternoon we move on to the great villa at Chedworth. Set at the end of a beautiful wooded valley the site was one of the largest villas in the Cirencester area. Discovered in the nineteenth century, two ranges of the villa are displayed and include many fine mosaics, two bath-houses and a nymphaeum. Recent investigations here have produced important evidence for the laying of a new mosaic around AD425, the latest known from Roman Britain.

Tour highlights:

  • The Corinium Museum houses many items from Roman Cirencester. Amongst the highlights are the ‘Cirencester Acrostic’, a Roman word square that reads the same forwards as backwards and is one of only 11 known.
  • Among the many fine mosaics in the collection is a fourth century floor depicting a crouching hare which once adorned the dining room floor of a large town house. The Hare design is unique in Britain.
  • In the fourth century Cirencester became the capital of the province of Britannia Prima which covered much of south western Britain. This remarkable inscription records the restoration of a monument by the Governor (titled ‘Rector’) Septimius.
  • This magnificent enamelled bronze cockerel was discovered in 2011 and had been placed a child’s grave dated to the second century. It was probably made in Gaul.
  • The collections feature many pieces of fine Roman sculpture. Recently added to the display is a magnificent second century tombstone discovered in 2015 which records a woman named Bodicacia who died aged 27.

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