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Caistor by Norwich

Caistor by Norwich, Venta Icenorum, was the chief town of the civitas of the Iceni, which covered present Norfolk and much of Suffolk. The site lies on the river Tas south of modern Norwich in the parish of Caistor St Edmund. There is no known Iron Age antecedent to the Roman site, indeed most significant late Iron Age sites lie in western Norfolk. The town was probably laid out late in the 1st cent. with a street-grid covering some 50 acres. A simple forum and basilica complex and an unpretentious public baths date around the middle of the 2nd cent. Also known are two Romano-Celtic temples, a large house, and evidence for pottery manufacture and glass-working. In the 3rd cent. walls enclosing 33 acres were built. By comparison with other towns of like status, Caistor by Norwich seems a late underdeveloper. This has been attributed to the after-effects of the Boudiccan revolt, but it seems unlikely they could have cast a baleful shadow so far on. Its position away from the main centres of the Iceni may be part of the explanation.

Alan Simon Esmonde Cleary

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