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VENTA BELGARUM

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  WINCHESTER ROMAN TOWN, VENTA BELGARVM, ORAMS ARBOUR
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The site of an Iron Age oppidum and a Roman town. Though probably not densely occupied at the time of the Claudian invasion, the Oram's Arbour enclosure was located at a junction of routes which were in active use at this time. The area was important to communications and possibly as a centre for trade and other activities. Little is known about the earliest Roman settlement, although the relationships between some elements of the Iron Age enclosure and the circa 75 AD defences implies that the location remained important. One or more 'chalk islands' existed on the valley floor during the early Roman period and were occupied, and the main channel of the river Itchen flowed farther west than today. Considerable engineering operations were apparently undertaken by about AD 100 to provide a well-drained site in the valley bottom. This work may have been intrinsic to the construction of the forum and basilica, and the establishment of a street grid. It is possible that diversion of part of the main channel of the river and the construction of a complete circuit of defences to the west of the new channel, were the final stages in the development of the plan of the Civitas Capital, completed by the end of the 2nd century. It is possible that an early river channel, running northeast to southwest, provided the alignment seen in disparate parts of Roman Winchester.

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