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Romans

Much of the Roman remains in the Forest of Dean are probably undiscovered. However, there are several identifiable sites of interest including Boughspring, (north of Tidenham), on the Severn Estuary near Woolaston, at Lydney Park, where a temple has also been discovered, and there is a Roman Road from Chepstow to Lydney (what is now the A48 road).

There is a Roman temple at Littledean, on the hill beside Littledean Hall, and in the north of the dictrict, the Roman town of Ariconium at Bromsash, near Weston under Penyard.

There is a Roman road from Gloucester to Mitcheldean, and possibly a Roman road from Mitcheldean to Ariconium.

Some historians believe that the "Dean Road", from Lydney, to Soudley, Littledean, Abenhall and Mitcheldean is of Roman origins, whilst others dispute this. The verdict is still open. A section of the foundations of this road is exposed at Blackpool Bridge, where at one time there was a sign describing it as a Roman Road, but the sign has since been removed due to the uncertainty of the road's Roman origins. The actual route of the "Dean Road" is, in most places, very much subject to conjecture, although the general route can be identified.

Left: part of the Dean Road, exposed at Blackpool Bridge.

It is likely that there was a Roman iron mine at Clearwell, and there is a "straight route", now mostly unused trackways, between the Roman site at Lydney Park, and Clearwell, and another continuing to Blestium (Monmouth). There are known iron ore workings at various places along this route, and it is quite likely that many of these were worked by the Romans.

The fascinating thing about all this, is the potential for further undiscovered Roman sites in the Forest of Dean, of which there are virtually sure to be several.

Littledean Hall

There has always been a legend of a temple on the hilltop overlooking the Severn. Some say it was the temple of Sabrina, goddess of the Severn, and others say it was a Roman victory monument put up in the first century, around 47 AD, to celebrate a defeat of Caractacus and the Silures. Either way, a temple did exist as the remains of it were found recently, in 1984, by Donal Macer-Wright. This thrilling discovery was a culmination of some 10 years researching the house's history. The temple was excavated by Professor Jones of Manchester University, who proved it had been associated with a freshwater spring and identified it as a springhead water shrine. It has now been shown from associated finds that the temple originated in the first century BC, and a coin hoard shows that it flourished between the 3rd - 5th centuries AD. Dr. Anne Ross, the world authority on the Celts believes it was in fact the cult shrine of Sabrina.

The temple remains have now been restored to show the ground plan of the largest temple so far found in rural Britain.

Visitor's Handbook to the Forest of Dean

Lydney Park

The Roman Camp and Temple is well worth a visit.

This is one of the most important Roman archaeological sites in Britain.

The buildings visible on site date from the final phase of Roman occupation, when a wealthy religious complex was built late in the 4th century. Few Roman temples have survived as well as this example.

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