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The Ruins of the Roman City of Uriconium, at Wroxeter, Near Shrewsbury

281 pages
Library of Alexandria
If we leave Shrewsbury by its long eastern suburb, known, from the important monastic house which formerly stood at its commencement, as the Abbey Foregate, passing the more modern monument erected at its extremity, Lord Hill’s Column, our way lies for about two miles along the London road, bounded on each side by rich and fertile fields. At the distance just mentioned, this road approaches close to the river Severn, and continues to run along its banks, to the great improvement of the scenery, until we arrive at the prettily-situated village of Atcham, with Atcham Church in face of us, and the river winding under its stone bridge in the foreground. Atcham is three miles from Shrewsbury. Crossing the bridge, we leave the river, which here takes a long sweep to the southward, and follow the road, which skirts for more than half a mile the extensive park of Attingham. We here approach another river, the Tern, which at this point spreads into a fair expanse of water, and forms, with the mansion of Attingham to the left, and the copses which skirt it, a scene of striking beauty, while to the right it divides into two branches which empty themselves into the Severn, a little lower down. Crossing Tern Bridge, and proceeding a short distance, still skirting the park, we reach a point where, opposite the entrance to Attingham Park, a branch road turns off to the right from the old London road. We must take this branch road, which will lead us to the village of Wroxeter. We soon cross a small stream, which is known by the name of the Bell Brook, and after we have passed this brook, the visitor will hardly fail to remark, wherever his eye rests upon ploughed ground, the extraordinary blackness of the soil in comparison with that of the land over which he has previously passed. In fact he has now entered upon the site of an ancient Roman city, which is known, from the circumstance of its being mentioned by the geographer Ptolemy, to have been standing here as early as the beginning of the second century, when it was called Viroconium,—a name which appears to have been changed in the later Romano-British period to Uriconium; at least this is the form under which the name occurs in the later geographers, and which has been generally adopted by modern antiquaries. From the point at which we have now arrived, the line of the ancient town-wall may be traced by a continuous low mound, which runs southward towards the Severn, the banks of which it follows for some distance, and, after passing between the river and the modern village of Wroxeter, turns eastwardly behind the vicarage-house, and makes a long sweep till it reaches the hamlet of Norton to the north, whence it turns to the westward again, and reaches the point from which we started, forming an irregular oval, rather more than three miles in circumference. A portion of the Bell Brook runs through the Roman city. After crossing this brook, we approach ground which rises gently, and nearly at the highest point we see to the left a smith’s shop. At this spot, which is rather more than five miles from Shrewsbury, the road which has brought us from that town crosses another road, which turns down to the right, to the village of Wroxeter, not quite half a mile distant. Wroxeter is an Anglo-Saxon name, the first part of which is probably corrupted from that of the ancient Roman city of the site of which it occupies the southern extremity. The road which has led us to it is called the Watling Street road, and there is every reason for believing that it occupies in a part of its course the line of one of the principal streets of Uriconium. It crosses the river Severn immediately below the village, where there was doubtless a bridge in Roman times, for it is in the highest degree improbable that in approaching a town of such importance, the Romans would cross a river like the Severn only by a ford.