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Roman Birmingham


A Roman fort at Metchley in Edgbaston was established about AD48 and occupied until about AD200, having undergone various phases of modification of its defences and internal structures including periods of abandonment. In its earliest phases there was a vicus or civilian settlement outside the fort and annexes on its north, east and south sides. Seeds and pollen provide evidence for the food eaten at the fort and for the surrounding environment.


The Roman fort lay near a junction of a military road network. Some stretches of these roads are followed by existing roads, such as part of Pershore Road, and another, long since disused, survives in an excellent state of preservation in Sutton Park. This road continued south to cross the River Tame at Perry Barr, and the discovery of a ditch which ran alongside it showed that its line is partly followed by Wellhead Lane.

Roman Findings

Two Roman settlements have been found only 1km apart in Kings Norton, one of them including ditched enclosures, timber buildings and pebble surfaces. Roman pottery found in excavations at the Saracen's Head suggests that there was a Roman settlement there. Part of a Roman farm was found in Northfield. Roman enclosures and a field system of 2nd and 3rd century date containing at least one timber building have been found in Sutton Coldfield. Concentrations of Roman pottery found on field surfaces in the Sutton Coldfield area may indicate the sites of settlements. A small quantity of Roman pottery was found in excavations in the Bullring, suggesting that there was a Roman farmstead here. The top of a former stream channel next to the River Tame in Perry Barr, dating to about 330AD, contained pollen and beetles showing that this area was then grassland with animals grazing on it. Roman pottery kilns have been found in Perry Barr and Sutton Coldfield.

As for prehistoric periods, there are almost certainly more Roman sites yet to be found in Birmingham but it is difficult to predict where they might be exist. The potential number of Roman sites in the city is indicated by the discoveries in the Sutton Coldfield area and in Kings Norton.

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Last Updated : 15th October 2013