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DORCHESTER Oxfordshire, England.

A small Roman town on the left bank of the Thames, 13 km SE of Oxford. There are Belgic settlements nearby, but the first Roman phase was the establishment of an auxiliary fort soon after A.D. 43. Military buildings have been found by excavation: they were demolished ca. A.D. 78-80, and only thereafter was the town laid out. At the end of the 2d c. it received a bank and ditch, to which a wall was added ca. 270-290. The defenses were further augmented by a flat-bottomed ditch 33 m wide, possibly in the 4th c.; later still two small V-shaped ditches were dug. An inscription (RIB 235) shows that the town was the seat of a beneficiarius consularis, a government agent supervising traffic and supplies. The principal local industry was pottery production: from ca. 270 on its red color-coated wares won popularity throughout the province.

Excavation within the defenses has revealed masonry buildings of which the most interesting, a small three-roomed house, dates to the early 5th c. Unusually large numbers of coins point to the importance of Dorchester at this time, while close outside the walls occur burials which may be those of foederati who were perhaps placed here to defend the rich Cotswold country. Occupation in Dorchester was uninterrupted: a 6th c. hut and later Saxon building have been excavated, and in 634 the town became the seat of St. Birinus, bishop of the

West Saxons. S. S. FRERE

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