Wroxeter /ˈrɒksɪtər/ is a village in Shropshire, England. It forms
part of the civil parish of
Wroxeter and Uppington
Wroxeter and Uppington and is located
besides the River Severn, about 5 miles (8.0 km) south-east of
It is best known for its impressive excavated remains of the Roman
Viroconium Cornoviorum, which was the fourth largest civitas
capital in Roman Britain. The site of the city is one of the few of
Roman Britain that remains free from later building, and it is
gradually being excavated.
2 St Andrew's
3 Literary reference
6 Further reading
7 External links
In Roman times
Wroxeter was strategically located near the end of the
Roman road that ran across
Dover). During the early years this was a key frontier position lying
on the bank of the Severn river whose valley penetrated deep into
Wales and also on a route to the south leading to the Wye valley.
Archaeology has shown that the site of the later city first was
established about AD 55 as a frontier post for a Thracian
legionary cohort located at a fort near the Severn river crossing.
A few years later a legionary fortress (castrum) was built within the
site of the later city for the
Legio XIV Gemina
Legio XIV Gemina during their invasion
The local British tribe of the Cornovii had their original capital
(also thought to have been named *Uiroconion) at the hillfort on the
Wrekin. When the Cornovii were eventually subdued their capital was
Wroxeter and given its Roman name.
This legion XIV Gemina was later replaced by the Legio XX Valeria
Victrix which in turn relocated to
Chester around AD 88. As the
military abandoned the fortress the site was taken over by the
Cornovians' civilian settlement.
The name of the settlement, meaning "
Viroconium of the Cornovians",
preserves a native Brittonic name that has been reconstructed as
*Uiroconion ("[the city] of *Uirokū"), where *Uiro-ku (lit.
"man"-"wolf") is believed to have been a masculine given name meaning
The ruins of Viroconium's public baths at Wroxeter
Viroconium prospered over the next century, with the construction of
many public buildings, including thermae and a colonnaded forum. At
its peak, it is thought to have been the 4th-largest settlement in
Roman Britain, with a population of more than 15 000.
The Roman city is first documented in Ptolemy's 2nd century Geography
as one of the cities of the Cornovii tribe, along side
Roman withdrawal from Britain
Roman withdrawal from Britain around AD 410, the
Cornovians seem to have divided into
Pengwern and Powys. The minor
Magonsæte sub-kingdom also emerged in the area in the interlude
between Powysian and Mercian rule.
Viroconium may have served as the
early post-Roman capital of Powys prior to its removal to Mathrafal
sometime before 717, following famine and plague in the area. The city
has been variously identified with the Cair Urnarc and Cair
Guricon which appeared in the 9th-century History of the
Britons’s list of the 28 cities of Britain.
N.J. Higham proposes that
Wroxeter became the eponymous capital of an
early sub-Roman kingdom known as the Wrocensaete, which he asserts was
the successor territorial unit to Cornovia. The literal meaning of
Wrocensaete is 'those dwelling at Wrocen', which Higham interprets as
Wroxeter. It may refer quite specifically to the royal court itself,
in the first instance, and only by extension to the territory
administered from the court.
The Roman city was rediscovered in 1859 when workmen began excavating
the baths complex. A replica Roman villa was constructed in
2010 for a Channel 4 television programme called
Rome Wasn't Built in
a Day and was opened to the public on 19 February 2011.
At the centre of
Wroxeter village is Saint Andrew's parish church,
some of which is built from re-used Roman masonry. The oldest visible
section of the church is the Anglo-Saxon part of the north wall which
is built of Roman monumental stone blocks. The chancel and the lower
part of the tower are Norman. The gatepiers to the churchyard are
a pair of Roman columns and the font in the church was made by
hollowing out the capital of a Roman column. Later additions to
the church incorporate remains of an Anglo-Saxon preaching cross and
carvings salvaged from nearby
Haughmond Abbey following the
Dissolution of the Monasteries.
The west window, bearing figures of St Andrew and St George, designed
by the workshops of Morris & Co., is a parish war memorial, as is
a brass plaque listing parish men who died serving in World War I, one
of whom, Captain C.W. Wolseley-Jenkins, has an individual memorial
plaque in the east end.
St. Andrew's was declared redundant in 1980 and is now managed by The
Churches Conservation Trust. St. Andrew's parish is now united with
that of St. Mary, Eaton Constantine.
A.E. Housman visited the site and was impressed enough to write of
"when Uricon the city stood", the poem ending "Today the Roman and his
trouble Are ashes under Uricon."
Bernard Cornwell has the main character of
The Saxon Stories
The Saxon Stories visit
Wroxeter in Death of Kings, referring to it as an ancient Roman city
that was "as big as London" and using it as an illustration of his
pagan beliefs that the World will end in chaos.
The village's football team,
Wroxeter Rovers, currently compete in the
Mercian Football League.
Rome Against Caractacus, G. Webster. ISBN 0713472545, P 49-53
^ Delamarre, Xavier (2012). Noms de lieux celtiques de l'europe
ancienne. Arles: Editions Errance. p. 273.
^ Wodtko, Dagmar (2000). Wörterbuch der keltiberischen Inschriften:
Monumenta Linguarum Hispanicarum, Band V.1. Reichert-Verlag.
p. 452. ISBN 978-3-89500-136-9.
^ Frere, S. S. Britannia: a History of Roman Britain. London:
Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., 1987. ISBN 0-7102-1215-1.
^ Newman, John Henry & al. Lives of the English Saints: St.
German, Bishop of Auxerre, Ch. X: "Britain in 429, A. D.",
p. 92. James Toovey (London), 1844.
^ Ford, David Nash. "The 28 Cities of Britain" at Britannia. 2000.
Theodor Mommsen (ed.). Historia Brittonum, VI.
Composed after AD 830. (in Latin) Hosted at Latin Wikisource.
^ Higham, Nick J. (1993). The Origins of Cheshire. Manchester
University Press. pp. 68–77. ISBN 0-7190-3160-5.
^ English Heritage:
Wroxeter Roman City
^ Barker, P., Bird, H., Corbishley, M., Pretty, K., White, R. (1997)
The Baths Basilica
Wroxeter Excavations: 1966–90. English Heritage
^ Chadderton, J., Webster, G. (2002) The Legionary Fortress at
Wroxeter: Excavations by Graham Webster, 1955–85. English Heritage
^ Ellis, P (2000) The Roman Baths and Macellum at
1955–85. English Heritage
^ English Heritage has recently published a series of monographs on
the excavations at
Wroxeter from the 1950s to 1990s These
are available through the Archaeology Data Service.
^ BBC News Reconstructed Roman villa unveiled at Wroxeter
^ Pevsner, Nicholas, Shropshire, 1958, p. 327
^ Aston & Bond, 1976, page 53
^ Francis, Peter (2013).
Shropshire War Memorials, Sites of
Remembrance. YouCaxton Publications. pp. 124–125.
^ Archbishops' Council (2010). "
Eaton Constantine S.Mary, Eaton
Constantine". A Church Near You. Church of England. Retrieved 30
^ A. E. Housman, A
Shropshire Lad, poem XXXI, 1896
^ Bernard Cornwell, Death of Kings, Part Two – 'Angels', 2012
Aston, Michael; Bond, James (1976). The Landscape of Towns.
Archaeology in the Field Series. London:
J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd.
pp. 45–48, 51–54. ISBN 0-460-04194-0.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wroxeter.
Wroxeter and surrounding area on geograph.org.uk
English Heritage: Information for teachers
Roman visitor sites in the UK
Dover Painted House
Forts & military
Carvoran Roman Army Museum
Aldborough Roman Site
Canterbury Roman Museum
Carvoran Roman Army Museum
Colchester Castle Museum
Jewry Wall Museum
Senhouse Roman Museum
Trimontium Trust (Melrose)
Bath Roman Baths
Caerleon Roman Baths
Jewry Wall, Leicester
Welwyn Roman Baths
York Roman Baths
Settlements on the
River Severn between
Llandrinio and Ironbridge