Roman Aldborough

WhereGreat Broughton Village HallType of EventIllustrated Talk
When29th April at 7.30 pmTutorWendy Hyam

Wendy is from the Friends of Roman Aldborough and was accompanied by other members of the group. She began her talk by explaining how the Vale of York, prior to the advent of the Romans, was a fertile land with small farming settlements, few roads and no bridges, as the people mainly used rivers for transport.

However the Romans built roads, such as Dere Street, and preferred bridges rather than fords, for crossing rivers. Therefore as Dere Street progressed north from York towards Hadrian’s Wall it became necessary to cross the River Ure. A bridge was built and initially a trading post set up to deal with the demands of the legions crossing the river, but by AD120 this trading post had developed into Isurium Brigantum, a town of over 10 hectares with a forum warehouses and an amphitheatre. Later the town expanded to 22 hectares with a population of over 3000, becoming the capital of Brigantia, a ‘civitas capital’ – an administration centre able to collect taxes and administer the law. 

After the withdrawal of the Romans the town was left to its own devises, until the invasion of William and the Harrying of the North, which left it devastated and a wasteland.

The Normans instead built Boroughbridge and Isurium became Aldborough – the Old Town. It was not until the 16thcentury when John Leland wrote about the Roman remains in Aldborough that interest began to be shown in the old Roman town. Excavations in the mid-19thcentury revealed gold artefacts along with beautiful mosaic floors. A small museum was erected by the Lawson family which became a tourist attraction. Later in the early 20thcentury Lady Lawson gave part of the grounds of the Manor , containing the mosaic floors, and the contents of the museum to the nation, and ultimately to English Heritage. 

Excavations continue and more recent finds have been large warehouses in the N.E. corner of the site.

Wendy concluded by saying that there is so much more to find, much of it only 2 metres below ground, but cost is the prohibiting factor.

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