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LETOCETUM

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  WALL ROMAN SITE, LETOCETVM
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The Roman town at Wall, known as Letocetum. The town lay on the Roman Road of Watling Street (and later Ryknild Street), and grew from a military presence in the first century on the border between two Iron Age tribes. There then followed the development of a civilian settlement as Wall became a key staging post on Watling Street. Visitors (usually imperial postal couriers) changed their horses and stayed overnight in the guest house (mansio), and made use of the bath house.

Today the surviving remains of the bath house and guest house are visible. The bath house was in use for over 150 years and underwent several modifications. It may then have become a house. The guest house accommodation was rebuilt on several occasions. The earlier phases were of timber and included a large well. Re-used stone originated from a Romano-British religious shrine, which is likely to have had an Iron Age predecessor; indeed the Roman name Letocetum derives from the Iron Age name for 'grey wood', perhaps referring to a sacred grove.

Its positioning at a crossroads ensured Wall became a commercial success, with several industrial centres producing glass, pottery and metalwork. Occupation debris, and the remains of several timber framed and stone buildings, indicate the town extended some 200 metres back from Watling Street, and over 2 kilometres along its length. Early Roman cremation burials 500 metres beyond the westernmost extent of the building remains probably indicate the limits of the town. A wealthy suburb existed around the guest house, although by the 4th century the town was in decline, long before the official end of Roman rule in the 5th century. This is highlighted by the creation of a defensive enclosure for the community, which may have remained in use until the 7th century. Wall is also one of the earliest sites with evidence for Christianity in the region: a 'Chi-rho' inscribed bowl found within a grave. The site is in the care of English Heritage.

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Further information about monuments may be obtained by contacting Archive Services, through the Historic England website.