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What did the Romans do for us?

This is one of the questions asked by Stephen Upex in his new publication "The Romans in the Nene Valley".

Published jointly by the Nene Valley Archaeological Trust and the Nene Park Trust, this is the first book for the general reader that explores the history of Roman Britain in our local area, covering Peterborough and the villages of the lower Nene valley.

Romans in the Nene Valley - Book Launch
Stephen Upex (centre) was joined by representatives from Nene Valley Archaeological Trust, Nene Park Trust and the National Lottery to celebrate the launch on Tuesday 1st March. Also present were computer generated Roman soldiers from one of the new interactive heritage trails!

The book incorporates all the recent evidence from archaeological excavations and discoveries, giving a comprehensive account of the Roman presence in the Nene valley to the west of present-day Peterborough. From the late Iron Age to the very end of Roman rule, the book conveys the nature of everyday life in Roman Britain focussing especially on the importance of the local town of Durobrivae (near Water Newton) and its surrounding industrial areas.

There are chapters on life before the Romans, the Roman invasion of 43AD, the gradual growth of the town and the important pottery and iron-working industries that developed around it. It explains how Durobrivae became an important industrial centre, conveniently situated on the main transport routes of Ermine street, running north to Hadrian’s wall and south down to the capital Londinium, as well as the nearby river Nene.

The book’s 73 pages contain detailed photographs, illustration and maps that bring this period to life. There are sections on the everyday life of the romano-british families who lived in and around the town and surrounding villas and farmsteads. Their religious beliefs and burial practices are described, and the important arrival of Christianity in Britain is explained, as shown by the local discovery of the Water Newton treasure, the most important relic of early Roman Christianity.

We learn about the enigmatic Roman building or Praetorium, in Castor Village, one of the largest buildings in the whole province, and about one of Britain’s earliest archaeologists- Edmund Artis , who excavated on Earl Fitzwilliam’s and the Duke of Bedford’s lands in the 1820’s and 30’s and recorded his findings in his wonderfully illustrated 1823 volume ‘Durobrivae’.

Stephen Upex is a leading authority on the Roman and early Saxon periods in our area, having excavated, written about and researched it for over 40 years. This new book will be of major interest to anyone living around Peterborough wishing to know more about local history and gain an insight to the intriguing questions that are still unanswered.


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