Viroconium Cornoviorum, or Viroconium or occasionally Uriconium, was a Roman town, one corner of which is now occupied by Wroxeter, a small village in Shropshire, England, about 5 miles (8.0 km) east-south-east of Shrewsbury. At its peak, Viroconium is estimated to have been the fourth largest Roman settlement in Britain, a civitas with a population of more than 15,000. The settlement probably lasted until the end of the seventh century or the beginning of the eighth. Extensive remains can still be seen.
According to Rivet and Smith, viro- may mean either "true" or "man". The -conium portion is unknown, but seems to refer to some large geographic feature such as a lake or forest. Jackson suggests that the name is a Latin form of the Brythonic Uriconon, which would have been applied to the nearby hill fort on the Wrekin. The name may be related to personal names such as Welsh Gwrgi, Breton Gurki, and Irish Ferchu, meaning "Man-hound" or "Werewolf", which in ancient Common Celtic would have had a nominative singular *Wiro-kū (oblique *Wiro-kon-); Viroconium could thus be derived from such a personal name and mean "(the place belonging to) *Wirokū". Cornoviorum means "of the Cornovii", the local tribe whose civitas it became.
Roman town 
Roman ruins at Viroconium Cornoviorum
, photographed during excavation by Francis Bedford
and digitally restored.
Viroconium was established in about AD 58 as a legionary fortress for the 14th legion during their invasion of what is now Wales. They were later replaced by the 20th legion, until the fortress was abandoned by the military around AD 88 and taken over by the civilian settlement that had grown up around the fort. By AD 130 it had expanded to cover an area of more than 173 acres (70 ha). It then had many public buildings, including baths and a colonnaded forum dedicated to the Emperor Hadrian, as shown by the remains of an inscription. Simpler temples and shops have also been excavated. At its peak, Viroconium is estimated to have been the fourth largest Roman settlement in Britain, with a population of more than 15,000.
Post-Roman town 
Town life in Viroconium continued in the 5th century, but many of the buildings fell into disrepair. Between 530 and 570, when most Roman urban sites and villas in Britain were being abandoned, there was a substantial rebuilding programme. The old basilica was carefully demolished and replaced with new timber-framed buildings on rubble platforms. These probably included a very large two-storey building and a number of storage buildings and houses. In all, 33 new buildings were "carefully planned and executed" and "skillfully constructed to Roman measurements using a trained labour force". Who instigated this rebuilding programme is not known, but it may have been a bishop. Some of the buildings were renewed three times, and the community probably lasted about 75 years until, for some reason, many of the buildings were dismantled. The site was probably abandoned peacefully in the second half of the 7th century or the beginning of the 8th century.
Wroxeter Roman City 
The recreation of a Roman town house at Viroconium
Some remains are still standing, and further buildings have been excavated. These include "the Old Work" (an archway, part of the baths' frigidarium and the largest free-standing Roman ruin in England) and the remains of a baths complex. These are on display to the public and, along with a small museum, are looked after by English Heritage under the name "Wroxeter Roman City". Some of the more important finds are housed in Rowley's House Museum in Shrewsbury. Most of the town still remains buried, but it has largely been mapped through archaeological geophysics and aerial archaeology.
A reconstructed Roman villa was opened to the public on 19 February 2011 to give visitors an insight into Roman building techniques and how the Romans lived. A Channel 4 television series, Rome Wasn't Built in a Day, showed how it was built using authentic ancient techniques. The builders were assisted by a team of local volunteers and supervised by archaeologist Dai Morgan Evans, who designed the villa.
- ^ a b Frere, Britannia, p.253
- ^ Archaeological assessment of Wroxeter/Viroconium p.5
- ^ Rivet and Smith, The Placenames of Roman Britain, the first part
- ^ Untermann, Jürgen and Wodtko, Dagmar, Monumenta linguarum Hispanicarum, Vol V.1, L. Reichert, 2000, p. 452.
- ^ Loseby, Simon T. (2000). "Power and towns in Late Roman Britain and early Anglo-Saxon England". In Gisela Ripoll, Josep M. Gurt. Sedes regiae (ann. 400-800). Barcelona. p. 339. "The likes of Verulamium and Wroxeter ... are the best representatives of a 'post-Roman' phase of activity on town sites, a phenomenon which is not attested beyond the middle of the fifth century elsewhere."
- ^ White, Roger; Philip Barker Wroxeter: Life & Death of a Roman City Tempus Publishing, 1998 ISBN 978-0-7524-1409-6 pp.121-128
- ^ White, Roger; Philp Barker Wroxeter: Life & Death of a Roman City Tempus Publishing, 1998 ISBN 978-0-7524-1409-6 p.125
- ^ White, Roger; Philip Barker Wroxeter: Life & Death of a Roman City Tempus Publishing, 1998 ISBN 978-0-7524-1409-6 p.136
- ^ Archaeological assessment of Wroxeter, Shropshire
- ^ BBC News Shropshire - Reconstructed Roman villa unveiled at Wroxeter
- ^ English Heritage - Properties
- ^ Daily Mail: "Channel 4 series build Roman villa using ancient methods"
- ^ Uriconium An Ode | The Wilfred Owen Association
- ^ Representative Poetry Online - Mary Webb : Viroconium
- Aston, Michael; Bond, James (1976). The Landscape of Towns. Archaeology in the Field Series. London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd. pp. 45–48, 51–54. ISBN 0-460-04194-0.
- Anderson, J. Corbet. The Roman City of Uriconium at Wroxeter, Salop. - Illustrative of the History and Social Life of Our Romano-British Forefathers. London: J. Russell Smith, 1867.
- Atkinson, Donald. British Archaeological Society: Report on the Excavations at Wroxeter (the Roman City of Viroconium) in the County of Salop, 1923-1927. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970.
- Barker, Philip, Ed. Wroxeter Roman City: Excavations 1966-1980. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1980.
- Barker, Philip, and Webster, Graham. From Roman Viroconium to medieval Wroxeter: recent work on the site of the Roman city of Wroxeter. Worcester: West Mercian Archaeological Consultants, 1990. ISBN 0-9516274-1-4
- Barker, Philip, and White, Roger. Wroxeter Roman City (English Heritage Guidebooks). Swindon, Wilts.: English Heritage, 1999. ISBN 01850746982
- Barker, Philip; White, Roger; Corbishley, Mike (1998). The Baths Basilica, Wroxeter: excavations 1966-90. Swindon: English Heritage. ISBN 1850745285.
- Bushe-Fox, J. P. Excavations on the Site of the Roman Town at Wroxeter, Shropshire, in 1912 (Society of Antiquaries of London. Research Committee. Report no. 1). Oxford: Society of Antiquaries, 1913.
- Bushe-Fox, J. P. Excavations on the Site of the Roman Town at Wroxeter, Shropshire, in 1913: Second Report (Society of Antiquaries of London. Research Committee. Report no. 2). Oxford: Society of Antiquaries, 1915.
- Bushe-Fox, J. P. Excavations on the Site of the Roman Town at Wroxeter, Shropshire, in 1914: Third Report (Society of Antiquaries of London. Research Committee. Report no. 4). Oxford: Society of Antiquaries, 1916.
- De la Bedoyere, Guy. (1991). The Buildings of Roman Britain.
- Ellis, Peter. The Roman Baths and Macellum at Wroxeter. Swindon, Wilts.: English Heritage, 2000. ISBN 01850746060
- Ellis, Peter, and White, Roger. 'Wroxeter Archaeology Excavation and Research on the Defences and in the Town - 1968-1992.' in Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society, Vol. 78. Shrewsbury, Shrops.: Shropshire Archaeological Society, 2006. ISBN 0-9501227-8-5
- Fox, George E. A Guide to the Roman City of Uriconium at Wroxeter, Shropshire. Wellington, Shrops.: Shropshire Archaeological Society, 1927.
- Frere, S. S. Britannia: a History of Roman Britain. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., 1987. ISBN 0-7102-1215-1
- Gaffney, V. L., and White, R. H. (2007). 'Wroxeter, the Cornovii, and the Urban Process: Final Report on the Wroxeter Hinterland Project 1994-1997', Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary Series, No. 68.
- Jackson, Kenneth (1970). "An Appendix on the Place Names of the British Section of the Antonine Itinerary". Britannia 1.
- Kenyon, Kathleen M. Excavations at Viroconium, 1936-1937. Shrewsbury, Shrops. Shropshire Archaeological Society, 1937.
- Rivet, A. L. F., and Smith, Colin. (1979). The Place-Names of Roman Britain.
- Urban, Sylvanus. 'The Roman City of Uriconium.' Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Review, 1859. 206: 447-458.
- Webster, Graham. The Cornovii. London: Sutton, 1991. ISBN 0-86299-877-8
- Webster, Graham. The Legionary Fortress at Wroxeter: Excavations by Graham Webster, 1955-1985. Swindon, Wilts.: English Heritage, 2002. ISBN 01850746850
- Webster, Graham. The Roman Army. London: Grosvenor Museum, 1973. ISBN 0-903235-05-6
- Webster, Graham, The Roman Imperial Army: Of the First and Second Centuries A.D. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8061-3000-8
- Webster, Graham, and Barker, Philip. Viroconium, Wroxeter Roman City. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1966 & 1978. ISBN 0-11-670323-7
- White, Roger, and Barker, Philip. Wroxeter: Life & Death of a Roman City. Stroud, Glos.: Tempus Publishing Ltd., 1998. ISBN 978-0-7524-1409-6
- White, Thomas. A Guide to the Ruins of Uriconium, at Wroxeter, Near Shrewsbury. Kessinger Publishing, 2009. ISBN 0111120289734, BiblioBazaar, 2010. 1143796403, Nabu Press, 2010. ISBN 01143637054
- White, Thomas. Uriconium; A Historical Account of the Ancient Roman City, and of the Excavations Made Upon Its Site, at Wroxeter, in Shropshire. General Books, 2010. ISBN 01152210491
External links 
- BBC: Panoramic Views of Wroxeter
- BBC: Architectural Heritage
- Wroxeter Roman City: English Heritage
- Teachers'Resource pack on Wroxeter: English Heritage
- Viroconium Cornoviorum: Roman Legionary Fortress, British Tribal City - Roman-Britain.org
- Roman Fort and Bridge, Wroxter, Shropshire - Roman-Britain.org
- Wroxeter - Roman Britain's Fourth Largest City: Article by Dr. Gareth Evans
- Excavation report by Thomas Wright
- 1859 Article from Gentleman's Magazine
- Wroxeter, the Cornovii, and the Urban Process
- Report on Uriconium: Archaeological assessment of Wroxeter, Shropshire
- Esmonde Cleary, A., R. Warner, R. Talbert, T. Elliott, S. Gillies. "Places: 79741 (*Viroconium)". Pleiades. Retrieved March 8, 2012 3:58 pm.
Coordinates: 52°40′26″N 2°38′42″W / 52.674°N 2.645°W