Chichester, Bignor Villa, FIshbourne Palace, Winchester, Old Sarum, Bath, South Wales, Gloucester and Cotswolds
Great for school/alumni groups!
This is a suggested tour itinerary for private departures, adjustable to best suit your specific wishes. Price based on how many travelers, your chosen package inclusions and your chosen level of accommodation.
This tour begins and ends in London.
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.
Accommodation: Chichester/Winchester area
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.
Accommodation: South Wales, same property as above
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.
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. While we will do our utmost to include all of the properties mentioned as central visits, we reserve the right to change an attraction should it become impossible to deliver a planned visit due to changes in opening days or times beyond our control.
Please note that your final day to day itinerary may fluctuate to accommodate variable opening times/days for listed attractions, special events and places of interest. Please discuss your needs with us for an individual itinerary with rate quote.
Oft imitated, never duplicated! This is an original SGT itinerary, property of Special Group Tours and to be used only with express permission/in conjunction with SGT.
This is a suggested tour itinerary and can be modified to best you your individual wishes.
Suggested tour package includes: # of touring days with vehicle & exclusive services of your driver/guide/companion, your accommodation for # nights while on the tour including full breakfasts, all taxes and tips other than those you may wish to give your guide. Your price also can include dinners and/or entrance fees to attractions or these items can be left out of the up front package/to be paid directly for maximum flexibility. Airport transfers, accommodation pre and post tour, scheduled city day tours/attraction passes/transport passes or theatre/event tickets can be added to your package as you wish, subject to availability.
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