MAGNIS

Romano-British Town

Kenchester, Herefordshire

NGRef: SO440428
OSMap: LR148/149/161
Type: Town
Roads
Watling Street West: NNE (21) to BRAVONIVM (Leintwardine, Worcestershire)
WSW (33) to CICVCIVM (Brecon Gaer, Powys)
E (13) to Stretton Grandison (Herefordshire)
SE (17) to ARICONIVM (Weston-under-Penyard, Herefordshire)
WNW (12½) to Clifford (Worcestershire)

The town of Magnis formed an irregular hexagon covering some 22 acres (c.8.9 ha) and was an important market centre of the Dobunni tribe. There were many shops and workshops, houses with fine mosaics, and a bath building. Aerial photographs (JRS 1953 p.92) show the main east-west Roman road in the area (Margary #63a/b) bisected the town along its main axis, with smaller side-streets branching off to both north and south at irregular intervals and angles, there being no attempt to impose a regular street-grid. The town's main axis has closely-packed rectangular buildings facing onto the main road all along its length, probably shops or stores, together with a number of town-houses boasting several good-sized rooms.

The Kenchester Roman Milestone

IMP C MAR AVR NVMORIAN O R P C D
"For Imperator Gaius Marcus Aurelius Numerianus [Pius Felix Augustus],¹
[made by] the department of public works for the tribal council of the Dobunni.²"

(RIB 2250; dated: AD283-284)
  1. The emperor Numerian acquired the emperorship upon the death of Carus in July or August AD283 and was to rule for just over one year before being murdered near Nicomedia in November 284.
  2. The trailing text is based on the expansion: O[fficina] R[es] P[ublicae] C[ivitatis] D[obunnorum].

Only one stone is recorded in the rib for the Kenchester site, a milestone dated to the reign of the emperor Numerian .... There is however, another stone recorded at Michaelchurch about 9 miles to the south of Hereford, which may have originated from the Kenchester site (RIB 304 infra), found in 1820 within a derelict cottage beside St. Michael's Church, now residing in the nave of the church. Another stone found in Hereford is attributed to the Wier Gardens rural temple, about ½-mile south of the Roman town on the banks of the River Wye.

Altar from Michaelchurch, 9 miles S of Hereford

DEO TRIDAM... BELLICVS DONAVIT ARA
"To the god Tridamus? ... Bellicus has donated this altarstone."
(RIB 304; sandstone altar; origin unknown)

Romano-Celtic Temples and Other Stuff

Discovered on A.P.'s taken in 1957, a square building lies beside the road about 400 yards east of the Roman town, which in form and layout resembles a Romano-Celtic temple. Two tetrastyle facades facing onto the main east-west street may have belonged to classical style temples, but their identification is uncertain. There was a substantial Roman building a couple of miles upstream along the Wye at Bishopstone (SO4143) and another suspected Romano-British temple at the Weir Gardens (SO4341) on the banks of the Wye just to the south.

Click here for the Romano-British Walled Towns page

Click here for the RBO Temples and Shrines Index

See: Chronicle of the Roman Emperors by Chris Scarre (Thames & Hudson, London, 1995);
Temples in Roman Britain by M.J.T. Lewis (Cambridge 1966);
The Roman Inscriptions of Britain by R.G. Collingwood and R.P. Wright (Oxford 1965).
Roman Roads in Britain : Volume II North of the Foss Way - Bristol Channel by Ivan D. Margary (London 1957);
Air Reconnaissance of Southern Britain by J.K. St. Joseph in J.R.S. xliii (1953) pp.81-97;
All English translations, including any inherent mistakes, are my own.

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