Glevum

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Coordinates: 51°52′01″N 2°14′56″W / 51.867°N 2.249°W / 51.867; -2.249

Modern statue of Emperor Nerva in Gloucester. Nerva made Glevum a colonia.

Glevum (or, more formally, Colonia Nervia Glevensium, or occasionally Glouvia) was a Roman fort in Roman Britain that became a "colonia" of retired legionaries in AD 97. Today it is known as Gloucester, located in the English county of Gloucestershire. The name Glevum is taken by many present day businesses in the area and also by the 26-mile Glevum Way,[1] a long-distance footpath or recreational walk encircling modern Gloucester. [1]

Fortress[edit]

Glevum was established around AD 48 as a market centre at an important crossing of the River Severn and near to the Fosse Way, one of the important Roman roads in Britain. Initially, there was a Roman fort established at Kingsholm. Twenty years later, a larger replacement fortress was built on slightly higher ground nearby, centred on Gloucester Cross, and a civilian settlement grew around it. The Roman Legion based here was the Legio II Augusta as they prepared to invade Roman Wales between 66 and 74 AD, later being based at Burrium (Usk) and Isca Augusta (Caerleon) in South Wales.

Colonia[edit]

Britannia Secunda during the fourth century

In AD 97, the whole area was designated a colonia by the Emperor Nerva. A colonia was the residence of retired legionaries and enjoyed the highest status in the Empire. The legionaries were given farmland in the surrounding district and could be called upon as a Roman auxiliary armed force.

A large and impressive administrative basilica and forum market-place was built in the town and there were many fine homes with mosaic floors.

Roman Britain was divided into four provinces in the early 4th century. It is most likely that Glevum, as a colony, became the provincial capital of Britannia Secunda, in the same way that colonies at York and Lincoln became capitals of their respective provinces. There is some evidence that at this time Glevum possessed a mint.[2]

At its height, Glevum may have had a population of as many as 10,000 people. All the area around Glevum was intensely romanised in the second and third centuries, with a higher than normal distribution of villas, as a result of its suitability for the traditional intensive Roman farming methods.

Indeed, some of the best Roman villas in Britain, like Chedworth villa and Woodchester villa (both famous for their Roman mosaics), are in the proximity of Glevum.

Decline[edit]

Excavations at the New Market Hall showed that Romano-British occupation of the town may have continued in some form into the sub-Roman period, even if the town's population was greatly reduced. A new portal in the wall was made at the beginning of the sixth century, showing a modest growth of the town after the Battle of Mons Badonicus of 497.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records a King Coinmail (according to the original A-text), who may have come from Gloucester, taking part in the Battle of Dyrham in 577, when the city was conquered by the Anglo-Saxons.

Remains[edit]

Detail of one of the mosaics from the Chedworth Roman villa near Glevum
  • Many archaeological artefacts and some in situ walls from Roman Glevum may be seen in the Gloucester City Museum & Art Gallery
  • The remains of the Roman and medieval East Gate are on display in the East Gate Chamber on Eastgate Street.
  • There is a small display in the Royal Bank of Scotland on Roman finds from the site
  • Northgate, Southgate, Eastgate and Westgate Streets all follow the line of their original Roman counterparts, although Westgate Street has moved slightly north and Southgate Street now extends through the site of the Roman basilica.
  • An equestrian statue of the Emperor Nerva was erected at the entrance to Southgate Street in 2002. It was created by Anthony Stone and paid for by public subscription, following a campaign that started in 1997, the 1900th anniversary of the colonia's foundation.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Glevum Way Summary - the Long Distance Walkers Association
  2. ^ http://www.gadarg.org.uk/essays/e001.htm The colonia of Glevum
  3. ^ "The Nerva Statue". gloucester.gov.uk. 9 September 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2014. 

External links[edit]