HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Historic England research records Result
Historic England research recordsPrintable version | About Historic England research records

Historic England Research Records

Cirencester Roman Amphitheatre

Hob Uid: 1089343
Location :
Gloucestershire
Cotswold
Cirencester
Grid Ref : SP0201001410
Summary : Cirencester Roman amphitheatre is believed to have been situated southwest of the Roman town (CORINIVM DOBVNNORVM) walls, on the probable line of the Fosse Way. It survives as an oval earthwork and was excavated in the 19th century and 1960's. The amphitheatre was constructed during the early second century AD within an earlier Roman quarry. It was oval in plan with a central arena measuring 49 metres by 41 metres. The arena floor had a sand and fine gravel surface and was enclosed by earthen seating banks, with an entrance situated at each end of the long axis. The seating banks were up to 30 metres wide and retained by timber and drystone walls. Each bank comprised a series of shallow terraces, retained by a drystone wall, which probably carried seats of wooden planks. The amphitheatre was later reinforced with masonry walls and the outer 21 metres of the entrance passage was vaulted to provide additional seating. By the later second century, the arena had been rebuilt and two small rooms flanking the entrance added. These have been interpreted as prisons or cages for holding criminals or wild animals. One of the rooms may have also contained a shrine. Excavations indicate that the amphitheatre was out of use by the third or early fourth century when the eastern entrance was demolished and metalled surfaces had been laid. It is possible that this was the site of an extra-mural market. Further activity dating to the fifth or sixth century included the restoration of the entrance, additional street metalling and construction of a large timber framed building within the arena. Outside the amphitheatre quarrying also took place. One of the quarry ditches has been interpreted as a possible defensive ditch, giving rise to the hypothesis that the amphitheatre was used as a fortified retreat at this time. The amphitheatre has been recorded as part of the South Cotswolds NMP.
More information : (SP 02000137) Roman Amphitheatre (1)

The amphitheatre is situated southwest of the Roman town walls, on the probable line of the Fosse Way. It survives as an oval earthwork with the arena entrances clearly visible. Excavations took place in the 19th century and the 1960s; the latter excavations concentrated on part of the arena and one of the entrances.

The amphitheatre was constructed during the early second century AD within an earlier Roman quarry. It was oval in plan with a central arena measuring 49 metres by 41 metres. The arena floor had a sand and fine gravel surface and was enclosed by earthen seating banks, with an entrance situated at each end of the long axis. The seating banks were up to 30 metres wide and retained by timber and drystone walls. Each bank comprised a series of shallow terraces, retained by a drystone wall, which probably carried seats of wooden planks.

The amphitheatre was later reinforced with masonry walls and the outer 21 metres of the entrance passage was vaulted to provide additional seating. By the later second century the arena was rebuilt and two small rooms flanking the entrance to the arena further took place. These have been interpreted as prisons or cages for holding criminals or wild animals. One of the rooms may have also contained a shrine. Excavations indicate that the amphitheatre was out of use by the third or early fourth century when the eastern entrance was demolished and metalled surfaces had been laid. It is possible this was the site of an extra-mural market.

Further activity dating to the fifth or sixth century included the restoration of the entrance, additional street metalling and construction of a large timber framed building within the arena. Outside the amphitheatre quarrying also took place. One of the quarry ditches has been interpreted as a possible defensive ditch, giving rise to the hypothesis that the amphitheatre was used as a fortified retreat. (2-6)

Guide book on Cirencester Amphitheatre includes a history of the site and plan. (7)

The amphitheatre has been recorded as part of the South Cotswolds NMP (8-10).

This sources contains a short description and various images including a reconstruction of the amphitheatre. (11)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 1:10000 1983
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : The towns of Roman Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 307-8, 322
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : Heritage Unlocked: Guide to free sites in Bristol, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire
Source details :
Page(s) : 24-25
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Cirencester Roman ampitheatre
Source details :
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 4
Source : The Antiquaries journal : journal of the Society of Antiquaries of London
Source details :
Page(s) : 23-26
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 43, 1963
Source Number : 5
Source : The Antiquaries journal : journal of the Society of Antiquaries of London
Source details :
Page(s) : 17-18
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 44, 1964
Source Number : 6
Source : The Antiquaries journal : journal of the Society of Antiquaries of London
Source details :
Page(s) : 185-88
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 47, 1967
Source Number : 7
Source : Cirencester Roman ampitheatre
Source details :
Page(s) : 01-May
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 8
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR MAL/93067 003-005 26-NOV-1967
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 9
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR SP 0201/48-51 NMR 18378/15-16 18-JUN-1999
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 10
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR OS/90193 047-048 19-JUL-1990
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : USE PRIOR TO 100 AD
Monument End Date : 100
Monument Start Date :
Monument Type : Quarry
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Built early C2
Monument End Date : 132
Monument Start Date : 101
Monument Type : Amphitheatre
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Rebuilt late C2
Monument End Date : 200
Monument Start Date : 167
Monument Type : Amphitheatre
Evidence : Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Reused C3rd/C4
Monument End Date : 400
Monument Start Date : 201
Monument Type : Market
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Reused C5 and C6
Monument End Date : 600
Monument Start Date : 401
Monument Type : Fortification
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : GC 39
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : EH Property Number
External Cross Reference Number : 251
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Gloucestershire)
External Cross Reference Number : 401
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : CC57/00043
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : AA012055
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SP 00 SW 110
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 327407
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, THE AMPHITHEATRE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1848-01-01
End Date : 1848-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, THE AMPHITHEATRE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1962-01-01
End Date : 1963-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, THE AMPHITHEATRE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1966-01-01
End Date : 1966-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, INVESTIGATION BY RCHME/EH ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-11-14
End Date : 1995-11-14
Associated Activities : Primary, CIRENCESTER ROMAN AMPHITHEATRE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1999-01-01
End Date : 1999-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, CIRENCESTER AMPHITHEATRE
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2004-01-01
End Date : 2004-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, THE COTSWOLD HILLS (SOUTH COTSWOLDS) NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2007-10-01
End Date : 2010-10-01