(“Durolipons”) Cambridgeshire, England.
The Roman town of Cambridge lay on the
S end of a broad ridge NW of the Cam, in the area now
occupied by the mediaeval castle and the churches of
St. Giles and St. Peter. The Roman name of the place
is not certain. Camboritum in the Antonine Itinerary
was earlier favored, on the grounds of its general similarity to Cambridge, but this identification is no more than
specious. Durolipons, also listed in the Antonine Itinerary
, is the most probable Roman name for the town.
The system of Roman roads around Cambridge is of
some interest: two major routes cross at the site of the
town itself. Akeman Street branches from Ermine Street
and runs NE towards Cambridge, leading thence into
the Isle of Ely. The road from Colchester (Camulodunum) can be traced over the Gog Magog hills SE of
the town, and from their foot a branch road led to a
crossing of the Cam at Cambridge itself and thence
The early period of Roman Cambridge is still little
known. A length of pre-Flavian ditch found beneath
Shire Hall in the W part of the town has been claimed
as part of the defenses of an early Roman fort, but proof
is lacking. On general grounds, the siting of a fort at
the crossing of the Cam is very likely. A settlement of
the pre-Roman Iron Age may also be proposed, since
a number of late Iron Age pottery vessels have been
found in various parts of the town, but this hypothesis
also has yet to be confirmed by the discovery of structural remains.
The Roman settlement was at some stage walled, and
the polygonal defenses enclosed an area of 10-11.2 ha.
The longer axis of the enclosure ran NW-SE; it was
crossed by the Roman road leading NW towards Godmanchester (now represented by the Huntington Road
and Castle Street), and SE towards Colchester, presumably crossing the Cam by a bridge a short distance below
the present Magdalene Bridge. Excavated evidence for
the structure and dating of the defenses is not extensive,
but it suggests that there was an earth rampart of the
late 2d c., in front of which a stone wall was built in the
3d c. Outside these lay a ditch some 10-12 m wide and
2.4-3.6 m deep. Neither rampart nor ditch now survives,
but the outline of the defensive works can be traced with
some confidence on the N, S, and W sides. A bank in
the grounds of Magdalene College, formerly identified as
the rampart of the Roman town, is now known to be post-Roman. The W gate, which had at least one flanking
tower, has recently been excavated.
Several cemeteries have been located on the fringes of
the settlement, at Girton, Coldham Common, Trumpington, and on the Huntingdon Road. Sculptured fragments
found at Girton may have come from a monumental
tomb. The Arbury Road cemetery, which lay along Akeman Street NE of the town, dated in the main from the
3d and 4th c., and included a large walled tomb containing two inhumation burials, one in a lead-lined stone sarcophagus.
The Roman town was the focus for a considerable
agricultural population; farmsteads are attested at the
War Ditch, Cherry Hinton, Manor Farm, and at several
other sites close to the town. Like Cambridge itself, many
of these sites appear to have been occupied in the later
Iron Age. After the collapse of Roman administration,
the town remained a nucleus of settlement; pagan Anglo-Saxon objects have been recovered from within the walls
and from burials outside them. Finds are in the Museum
of Archaeology and Ethnography.
Royal Commission on Historical Monuments. The City of Cambridge
I (1959). lixffMPI