Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Verulamium
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Romano-British town near St Albans, Hertfordshire, occupied until about AD 450. Verulamium superseded a nearby Belgic settlement and was first occupied by the Romans in 44–43 BC. The earliest English martyr, St Alban, was martyred here, perhaps during the reign of Septimus Severus. A fragmentary inscription from the site of the forum records the name of the Roman governor Agricola. The site became deserted in the late 5th or 6th century.

Verulamium was sacked by the Iceni under Boudicca in AD 61, but the timber shops were rebuilt and a basilica erected in AD 79. The town plan of the late 1st century was almost rectangular. The town wall, built of masonry with solid projecting bastions and elaborate gateways, was not erected until the 3rd century. Building activity continued until the end of the 5th century. Only the southeastern gate foundations and adjoining wall, a mosaic pavement with its hypocaust or heating system, and the remains of a large house and the theatre with adjoining shops, are visible today.

Excavations in the early 1930s and during 1956–63 revealed much about the growth of the town and details of building construction, such as the use of flint walls with red tiled bonding courses, and oak sleeper-beams with daub plastered partition walls.

Many of the features and artefacts are now preserved in the site-museum. Mosaic floors originally found in the houses include a semicircular shell motif which must have been in a niche; and a lion with the head of a deer in its mouth, discovered 1959. Both examples are from the 2nd century AD. Artefacts on display include a figurine of Venus, found in a cellar beneath a bronzeworker's shop, tools, jewellery, coins, and pottery.

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

Related Articles


Full text Article Verulamium
Brewer's Britain and Ireland

Etymology unknown. A Roman city close to modern ST ALBANS . On his ennoblement, the philosopher and lawyer Francis Bacon (1561–1626), who...

See more from Credo