Venta Silurum

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Coordinates: 51 ° 37 ′  N , 2 ° 46 ′  W

Map: United Kingdom
Venta Silurum
United Kingdom
Remains of the city wall
The southern city wall.

Venta Silurum , better known as Caerwent (the current name of the nearby village), was the ancient name of a Roman town in the county of Monmouthshire in what is now Wales ( Great Britain ).

Only a small part of the city area was built over in modern times and could therefore be excavated and examined over a large area. After Silchester , it is the best-researched Roman civilian settlement in Britain . Above all, its defensive walls have been preserved up to a considerable height. The larger excavation campaigns did not meet today's scientific standards, so that the construction history of the individual buildings in particular could not always be fully clarified. The city area and its facilities are under monument protection (scheduled monument).


Venta Silurum was the administrative center ( cívitas ) of the tribal area of ​​the Silurians , who had put up bitter resistance to the Roman expansion in Britain until 78 AD. It was therefore probably not founded until shortly after AD 78. The streets were laid out in a rectangular grid according to Roman standards, their fortifications consisted of a city wall reinforced with protruding towers, which was also surrounded by moats. However, with an area of ​​only approx. 300 × 350 m, it was relatively small. The city - like many Roman settlements in Britain - was abandoned and abandoned in the fifth century.

City walls

The first fortifications were probably not built until the second half of the second century. These were simple earth walls with a ditch in front. In the fourth century these earthworks were covered with stone. Only in the north and east does the wall seem to have been built over the moat. The wall covers an area of ​​around 18 hectares and is now up to 5.2 meters high. Four gates are known, with the east and west gates being slightly larger.


The center of the city was the forum , the area of ​​which took up an entire insula . It consisted of a free space, which was surrounded by small shops housed in a portico; in the north stood the basilica . This had a facade of columns facing the large square and could also be accessed from there via a three-step staircase. But there were also doors on the narrow sides that led directly to the street. The elongated building was 38.3 m long and 18.9 m wide. A side aisle was supported on columns with Corinthian capitals that were about 9.1 m high. The walls of the great hall were painted. The curia and administrative offices were located at its northern end . The curia was decorated with a floor mosaic and wall paintings. The date of origin of the forum is controversial, coin finds suggest that it was built during the time of Emperor Hadrian .

Other buildings

The remains of the temple

To the east of the forum stood a temple that was probably dedicated to Mars , although other deities are also possible and the remains of other temples have been excavated. Dedication inscriptions for the gods Mars Ocelus and Mars Vellaunus were found on a statue base and an altar stone from Roman times . The statue base was rebuilt in a house and was consecrated on August 23, 152 by M. Nonius Romanus. The altar stood in another house and is from the optio Aelius Augustine. The temple next to the forum was a Gallo-Roman temple . The temple was not built before 330 AD, before that there was a wooden house with a workshop. The temple was entered from the south. One came into a long, narrow entrance hall with an apse on the east side. From the hall one reached a courtyard on the north side of which the actual temple stood, this also had an apse on the north / rear wall. The temple appears to have been in operation until the end of the fourth century.

An amphitheater stood a little north of the forum . Another round temple was found outside the city walls. The city also had at least two thermal baths . Overall, the small urban area was densely built up. Various peristyle houses were found in residential buildings, some of which were richly decorated with mosaics . 59 mosaics (as of 2010) are known from the city area.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wacher: The Towns of Roman Britain , p. 384.
  2. ^ Wacher: The Towns of Roman Britain , p. 386.
  3. ^ Wacher: The Towns of Roman Britain , p. 386.
  4. Stephen R. Cosh, David S. Neal: Roman Mosaics of Britain, Volume IV, Western Britain , The Society of Antiquaries of London, London 2010, ISBN 978-0-85431-294-8 , pp. 340-381.


Web links

Commons : Venta Silurum  - collection of images, videos and audio files