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Cirencester

Cirencester. Civitas-capital of the Dobunni, Corinium grew to be one of the most considerable towns of Roman Britain. Probably replacing the late Iron Age oppidum at Bagendon 3 miles to the north, the town developed on the site of two successive forts on Fosse Way. The large, early 2nd-cent. forum/basilica complex lay at the centre of the town beside a large enclosure, possibly religious. On the western side of the town was an earth and timber amphitheatre and a possible theatre lay at the northern end of the town. In the later 2nd cent. defences were constructed enclosing 240 acres, appreciably more than the built-up area of the street-grid. Originally these consisted of stone gates linked by earthwork, in the 3rd/4th cents. the latter fronted by a stone wall. A 4th-cent. inscription mentioning a Rector (governor) of Britannia Prima, one of the four late Roman provinces of Britain, suggests that Cirencester may have been a provincial capital. The town had a number of large houses of the 2nd to 4th cents. Many contained fine mosaics such as the 2nd-cent. examples from under modern Dyer Street. In the 4th cent. Cirencester may have been the base for a ‘school’ or officina of mosaicists serving the Cotswold region. Though there is no evidence for occupation after c.400, Cirencester is one of three former Roman towns mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for 577.

Alan Simon Esmonde Cleary

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Cirencester

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