Sites in Hampshire and South Wales
4 days /3 nights
At the time of the Roman invasions of 45 & 55BC, Britain was still in the late Iron Age, inhabited by Celtic tribes whose ancestors had emigrated centuries before from the Danube basin. In July 54BC with 50,000 men General Julius Caesar landed in Southern England unopposed and crossed the River Thames. It was to be the start of 450 years of occupation and settlement.
Our tour will visit major sites of Roman occupation in the south of England , to see how they lived, relaxed and what major benefits, including 8,000 miles of road, they brought to the inhabitants to this Roman outpost.
You’ll see examples of villas, fortresses, amphitheatres (including the best preserved in the UK) and towns. You’ll visit superb modern interpretative centres and see reconstruction of life under the Romans.
To add to your enjoyment, the sites are all set in some of the UK’s prettiest landscape and amidst its oldest cities. There’s plenty more to see and do on this tour for those who are not quite perhaps as enthusiastic about learning of Roman Britain as others may be!
Tour Dates: Your choice! Begin on any day of the week. (Note that some attractions may not be opened daily.)
Available at any date for private groups of 2 – 15 people, subject to availability. Rates are based upon vehicle and guide hire per day; groups of 7 – 15 would have a per person rate same/similar to one of our scheduled tours of the same length.
Please note, this is a suggested itinerary. It may be revised to suit your individual group needs.
Why not Link it? This tour ’links up’ with any of the 3-day tours in our “Name the Date” Series such as Literary Kent and Sussex, Heart of England or Hampshire Gardens to name a few. Heaps of choices! Mix, match and create a holiday break to suit your schedule!Tour Dates: Your choice! Begin on any day of the week.
This tour begins and finishes in London. You will be picked up from your London hotel at approximately 09:00.
We depart from London, heading for the English Channel and an area rich in well-preserved Roman sites. In keeping with our theme, we’ll even use the old Roman road to travel there (seeing a preserved section en route).
Many modern English city names give away their Roman origins; the suffix ‘chester’ is a corruption of the Latin ‘caestra’ meaning fort. Today we’ll explore the city and immediate area around the pretty south coast city of Chichester.
The highlights of our day will be the splendid Fishbourne Palace and the famed Bignor Villa.
The latter was only discovered by accident in 1960. The site museum has fascinating artifacts from the excavations along with plans, reconstruction drawings and models. In the remains of the North Wing of the Palace can be seen the largest collection of in-situ mosaics in Britain, including the famous ‘Cupid on a Dolphin’ mosaic. Outside, the northern half of the formal garden has been replanted to its original plan as recovered by excavation. An attractive plant display area contains a range of plants known to have been cultivated by the Romans. Adjacent to it is a Roman Garden Museum which includes a reconstructed Roman potting shed with a selection of horticultural tools.
By contrast, Bignor Villa has a been a museum since 1815! It contains a wealth of interesting objects from everyday life found in excavations.
We’ll round the day off with visits to Chichester itself, and then to see the massive Roman walls of the Saxon Shore fort at Pevensey castle.
More information: Romans in Sussex
Our first stop this morning is the city of Winchester. Though more noted for its Saxon links to Alfred the great, the street pattern bears witness to its Roman origins.
Then to Old Sarum. This impressive earthwork consists of an outer defensive wall and an inner rampart rising at an angle of over 45 degrees and measuring 40 feet from trough to top. The fortification, named Sorviodunum in Roman times, was occupied successively by the Romans, the Saxons, the Danes, and finally by the Norman conquerors of England. This great earthwork is sometimes overlooked because of its proximity to Stonehenge (a mere two miles away). That is unfortunate because powerful impressions of the past still linger, here, and, in a strange way, seem to be amplified by the incredible beauty of the natural environment.
This afternoon we drive to Bath (Aquae Sulis). The first Roman camp was established here in 44. The Roman town occupied less than 25 acres, but commanded a vital bridging point across the river Avon. Bath was later reconstructed as a Temple and bathing complex due to the healing springs there, and contains some of the finest Roman remains in Britain. Construction of the complex began approximately 15 years after the revolt of the Iceni in 60AD and were part of the cult of Sulis Minerva. We will visit the Roman Baths museum.
Accommodation: South Wales
In what is today’s Wales, we discover the extensive remains of the great legionary fortress of Isca and town of Venta. Two thirds of the Roman armies were employed in securing their border and subduing the Welsh tribes. Know today as Caerleon and Caerwent, the town and fortress became the biggest in Wales with a jpoint population of around 3,000. It was an important centre of Romanisation in this era. Caerwent was the only walled city in Wales at the time and you’ll examine the 30 foot high earthen (later a 16 foot stone) wall which was built in the mid 2nd century. In nearby Caerleon we find several superb sites, arguably amongst the best in Britain. There’s an amphitheatre, the remains of a great circus and the fantastic Roman Legionary Museum.
As a bonus, you’ll also see the famed Tintern Abbey and the scenic Wye valley today.
For more information:Caerleon
Accommodation: South Wales
The county of Gloucester, perhaps better known today as The Cotswolds’, was one of the most important settlement sites for the Romans of the 1st and 2nd centuries. The city of Gloucester was in fact a ‘Colonia’ – the highest urban status granted in the Empire. Nearby was another settlement now known as Cirencester.
Needless to say, the region is rich in Roman finds; in the Gloucester city museum there’s a fantastic collection from the Roman burial grounds. But it will be the Corinium Museum in Cirencester that will prove the absolute final day’s highlight. This great museum will just have completed a £5 million restoration project by 2004. The results of which will arguably be the most impressive display of things Roman in the UK. Every detail of the new Museum has to be carefully worked through to give the best possible visitor experience. The new galleries require meticulous research to ensure that they are both historically accurate and evocative of life in Roman Britain. For example the reconstructed rooms of a town house excavated in Dyer Street, Cirencester will be decorated using traditional materials and techniques, with a wall-plaster based on the remains found during the excavations in 1854.
More information: Corinium Museum
Depending on time, we have two other important sites that can be visited on our return to London. The first is the Chedworth Villa, set in picturesque Cotswolds countryside, and the second, the remains of the city of Silchester (set in the grounds of the Duke of Wellington’s country estate.
Please note: All attraction opening times are correct at time of printing this website.