Romans in Norfolk

What have the Romans ever done for us? Well, besides leaving behind some straight roads, their legacy remains in some old settlements. Dr John Davies, chief curator at Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service, tells us more.

Exploring Norfolk's Roman heritage provides the opportunity for visitors to discover spectacular and unexpected sites in some beautiful and diverse locations.

Flame-haired warrior Queen Boudicca and her Iceni tribe once lived in what is now Norfolk. Her defeat by Rome in AD60 ushered in the 350 year period of Roman rule to Britain. Sites of that period include the earthworks of a huge hill fort at Thetford Castle. An open space on a high point, at Gallows Hill, in the same town, was once the location of a major ceremonial centre that Boudicca would have known. Another great hill fort at Warham Camp, north of Fakenham, provides stunning views across rolling countryside.

Romans in NorfolkChildren discover their ancestors at Venta Icenorum (don't worry, it's not a real skeleton).

At Caistor St Edmund, just 3 miles south of Norwich, are tall flint walls of a Roman town, known then as Venta Icenorum, and once the capital of this part of Britain. Located next to the river Tas, this remains a beautiful location for walkers to explore.

Other historic sites can be found along Norfolk's long coastline. Remains of some massive late Roman stone fortifications can be found in beautiful seaside locations. The greatest is at Burgh Castle (pictured top), where visitors can stand among massive Roman flint walls overlooking Breydon Water, just inland from Great Yarmouth. Parts of the gateway and defences of another fort can also be seen at nearby Caister-on-Sea. Amazing to think that in Roman times Burgh Castle and Caister fort guarded the entrance of a mile-wide estuary to the open sea, before Great Yarmouth was even there! At that time Venta Icenorum was navigable to the rest of the Roman Empire.

Remains of a third fort can be found at Brancaster on the north coast, called Branodunum. Although nothing remains above ground, large grey stone blocks from the fort have been re-used and can be seen in a number of local churches, including St Mary the Virgin at Brancaster.

Read more about Norfolk in ancient times.

Boudicca at Norwich Castle Museum.

Norfolk Trails, including the Boudicca Way.

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