So today the sun is shining. Parents have dragged their children outside in hope they’ll lose them in a field for an hour or two of peace and quiet. Tops are flying off left, right and centre and you can hear cider cans being cracked open every second.
So of course mi madré and I decided to take a little ~cultural~ trip out to the local Roman theatre Verulamium and enjoy the unusual British sunshine.
Located in what is modern day St. Albans city, Verulamium was the third largest Roman settlement in Britain in its day. Circa AD 50, the town was given the municipium rank meaning its inhabitants had so-called Latin Rights. The town’s significant size drew the attention of Queen Boudicca who in AD 61 ordered her Iceni troops to burn Verulamium down (this event has been confirmed by the presence of a layer of black ash discovered by archaeologists).
Being a Roman settlement of considerable size, it is not surprising that Verulamium is home to many archetypal aspects of Roman life. These include a city wall, mosaics, hypocausts (all of which can still be seen in the local park) and the Verulamium theatre.
The Roman Theatre of Verulamium was built in AD 140 and is unique in its construction. It differs from the usual Roman amphitheatre as it has distinct staging. Discovered in 1847 and fully revealed in 1935, the theatre site is also home to shops and a villa with a secret shrine – these aspects were discovered in the late 50’s.At its peak, the theatre could house 2,000 spectators. The site is open to walk around and is still used to stage plays on. Meanwhile many of the artefacts found during excavations are on show at the Verulamium Museum just across the road.
The Verulamium Museum is laid out to depict what life was like for the inhabitants of the town from religion, entertainment through to politics. The museum houses the infamous Sandridge Hoard of gold coins – see pic below.
Not only this, but perfectly preserved glassware, Samian ware, tools and even excellent condition skeletons. A personal fave is the terracotta paving stone complete with paw imprints and a stone projectile -a moment literally frozen in time.
There are regular tours of the museum and talks on all aspects of the Roman Empire, and the history of St. Albans too. It is here in Verulamium Museum where I used to go for my YAC meetings! It is definitely an excellent museum well worth a visit. Entrance is free to local residents so there’s no way to worm yourself out of a visit. And finally even kids love it, as shown by this review below…