Friends and Romans

Wall is just a few miles south west of Lichfield and is of course the site of a Roman settlement known as Letocetum. Remains of a bath house and a ‘mansio‘ are still visible at the site, and there’s also a small museum in the village displaying some of the archaeological finds from the area, although sadly not the statue of Minerva, supposedly broken into pieces shortly after discovery to mend the bank of a drain (assuming that such a statue actually existed in the first place…)

Since visiting Wall last month, my interest in the place has grown and grown. As well as the occupation of the site by the Romans themselves, I’m also interested in the period prior to their arrival –  several carved stone thought to indicate the presence of a Celtic shrine at the site have been discovered.

Roman re-enactors at Kelmarch 2013 A D, but was the real thing in Lichfield in 300 A.D?

I’m also intrigued by how Letocetum relates to the later settlement at Lichfield.  One of the early medieval buildings excavated at Cross Keys, during work on the car park in 2007/08, was found to incorporate reused Roman masonry and there have also been other stray Roman finds in and around the city. Coins have been discovered near Sandfields and at Streethay. Roman pottery, including an inscribed mortarium, was apparently discovered at a place known as ‘Toad’s Hole Piece’, an area later known as Christian Fields and in 1802, a Roman Cyathus, fragments of pottery and human bones were reported to have been discovered during construction of a malt house on the causeway between Bird St and Beacon St.

Some of the finds discovered at Toad’s Hole Piece, later part of the area known as Christian Fields.

Wall is a fascinating place and a lovely village to visit. What’s more, there is a family open day at the site tomorrow (Sunday 4th August) between 11am and 4pm, organised by the Friends of Letocetum. I understand that as well as guided walks around the site and the village, there will also be children’s activities and replicas of items from the Staffordshire Hoard on display. You can find out more via their Facebook site here.

Sources: https://lichfieldlore.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/lichfieldeusreportfinal.pdf http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=306575 http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=307078
http://www.sahs.uk.net/Volume%20XXXIII.pdf

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3 thoughts on “Friends and Romans

  1. Robert Plot, Natural History of Staffordshire, 1682…

    The Romans established itineraries, stations, or mansions at certain distances, which seem to have been the extent of the daily marches of their soldiers, the length whereof as they were seldom under 10 miles, so they as rarely exceeded thirty Italian miles.

    Of stations, or mansions I find but two certain, within the limits of this county, and these are both up on the Watling Street, viz Etocetum and Pennocrucium.

    The former whereof Mr Camden computes, and rightfully so, to be the village of Wall, about a mile and a half to the south Southwest of Litchfield, where just at the same distance that Antonine sits twixt it and Mancester in Warwickshire, there remains in the lane up on the north side of the street away some small fragments of a wall, which is supposed gave the present name to the village, And in the cornfield now called the Butts between the village and some small cottages on the book below, I was shown two pavements one above the other at least four foot, The uppermost (which lay within 18 inches of the surface) being made for the most part of the lime and rubble stone; And the lowermost made of pebbles and gravel knit together with a very hard cement about 4 inches thick, laid upon the foundation of the Roman brick; And then they boulder-stone of a foot thick more. Above the uppermost of these they often meet with Roman money whereof I was shown three pieces, one of Nero one of Domitian, and a third so eaten by rust, that it could not be distinguished.

    On the other side the way in a ground belonging to Chesterfield, they are also antiquities found in digging, amongst them which they lately met with the pedestal of an antique broken pillar very well wrought, which lay just on the brink of the way, and now remains at the widow Smiths in Chesterfield, where I took a draught of it in order to be engraven.

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  2. Wall is on the major interchange of two Roman roads…..much as it is today!! No baths but a Holiday Inn instead….my how we have moved on!

    I think Lichfield as we know it was too boggy and a place they did not fancy moving into (we are back to the 3 kings/chiefs on the city seal again) due to the locals.

    Wall sits high over the land and is a better vantage point, whereas Lichfield is in a valley, and as pointed out earlier, within the daily marching distance of a Roman.

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