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CORINIUM DOBUNNORUM (Cirencester) Gloucestershire, England.

On the main road (Ermin Street) from Londinium to Colonia Glevensis, ca. 25.5 km SW of the latter. Mentioned by Ptolemy (Geog. 2.3.25) and in the Ravenna Cosmography. The site was occupied by a cavalry fort ca. A.D. 43-70, during which time a vicus grew up to the N. After the abandonment of the fort the vicus developed into the civitas capital of the Dobunni, and ca. 100 ha were enclosed when a wall was built in the 3d c. It is possible that it became the capital of Britannia Prima in the 4th c., and occupation seems to have continued well into the 5th c. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle refers to the capture of the town by the Saxons after the battle of Dyrham in A.D. 577.

Most of the buildings of Corinium lie buried deep below the modern town, but excavations in 1958-68 have recovered most of the street plan, which divided the town into rectangular insulae, the circuit of the defenses, including the NE gate, much of the plan of the forum and basilica, a market hall, and a number of shops and town houses. The only principal monument above ground is the amphitheater, ca. 200 m SW of the town; it is concealed beneath grass-covered banks, but its shape and size can be appreciated. Excavations have shown that it was first constructed early in the 2d c. A.D., with timber walls retaining the cavea of piled earth; the timber was replaced by masonry later in the century.

A length of the town wall can be seen on the NE side of the circuit; in some other places it can be traced as a substantial linear earthwork concealing both the wall and the rampart behind it. The course of the river Churn appears to have been moved at an early date, from its natural position through the town center into an artificial channel running round the N and E perimeter; it was subsequently used as part of the defenses. At least four phases of fortification have been distinguished: the first, erected late in the 2d c. A.D., consisted only of a ditch and an earth bank, although interval towers and the NE gate were constructed of masonry. The bank was faced with a stone wall, 1.1-3 m thick, in the 3d c. A.D., and external towers were added later. The position of the walls at the SW end of the basilica, which, together with the forum, is known to have been erected in the late 1st c. A.D., have been marked out on the modern street surface near the junction of Tower Street and the Avenue. Both basilica and forum underwent considerable modifications in the 4th c.

A new and larger museum contains an excellent collection of sculptured and inscribed stones, pottery, metalwork, and a number of mosaics, including an Orpheus mosaic from a villa just outside the town to the N.


Buckman & Newmarch, Remains of Roman Art in Cirencester, Corinium (1850)I; F. Haverfield, “Roman Cirencester,” Archaeologia 69 (1920) 161-209MI; P.D.C. Brown et al., interim reports in AntJ 41-47 (1961-67)MPI; J.M.C. Toynbee, Art in Roman Britain (1962) passimI; J. S. Wacher, “Roman Cirencester,” ArchJ 122 (1965) 203-6; id., The Towns of Roman Britain (1974) 289-315MPI; P. Cullen, Britannia 1 (1970) 227-39MPI; A. D. McWhirr, AntJ 53 (1973) 191-218MPI.


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