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.
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
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
The Roman Camp and Temple is well worth a visit.
This is one of the most important Roman archaeological sites
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.