You are here: Oxfordshire History: a Framework » Roman
In 43 AD the Romans invaded Britain with immediate impact on
Oxfordshire. Alchester was established as a major military base, possibly as soon as 44AD. It stood at an important junction of routes, north-south from Chichester and Silchester to the Midlands, and east-west on Akeman Street from St Albans to Cirencester. Later in the 1st century, Dorchester grew from a fort at the crossing of the Thames by the route from Silchester to Towcester. Alchester and Dorchester were to develop into Oxfordshire’s first towns. Alchester had a temple, bath building, stone houses and town walls. Road, and possibly river transport, had an important role in Roman Oxfordshire.
Elsewhere in Oxfordshire archaeology (including field walking by local groups) indicates greater continuity, with Romano-British farming communities carrying on mixed farming with the use in some places of corn driers, animal or water-powered mills, and management of hay meadows for stock feed. Some villas were established, particularly in north and west Oxfordshire, the best preserved site being at North Leigh, indicating considerable wealth. Coin hoards have been found at Chalgrove and Didcot. Important religious sites are known at Woodeaton and Frilford. The only significant industry was pottery, sited near the present Churchill Hospital in east Oxford. Its produce, from the 1st to 4th centuries, reached as far as Scotland and continental Europe. One of the major ongoing debates is how far Roman features and influence survived after the end of their rule in 410 AD. Did the arrival of Saxons from the 5th century destroy, supplant or incorporate the dominant culture of the preceding four centuries?
The full Solent Thames Research Framework - Roman Oxfordshire can be viewed at STRF Roman Oxfordshire.