CONFERENCE: Verulamium: The Life and Death of a Roman City

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Saturday 29 June, Marlborough Road Methodist Church, St Albans AL1 3XG

By Jon Mein, Sally Pearson, Kris Lockyear and Simon West

A one-day conference to mark St Albans Cathedral’s ‘Roman Festival’ and Verulamium Museum’s 80th anniversary.

Please note: as of Monday 6 May, all the tickets for the conference have been sold. Some tickets may become available under our refund policy. If you wish to add your name to the waiting list, please email

Verulamium was the third largest city in Roman Britain. It is also the largest city in Roman Britain which has not been extensively built over subsequently. As such, it represents one of the premier archaeological sites in the United Kingdom. Following their excavations in the 1930s, the Wheelers described late Roman Verulamium bearing ‘some resemblance to a bombarded city.’ This interpretation influenced a generation of scholars until Frere’s excavations from 1955–61 were interpreted as showing a vibrant town surviving well into the fifth century. This debate between the short and long chronologies has been one key aspect of the discussions concerning the end of the Roman Britain and the beginning of the Anglo-Saxon England.

This conference will provide an overview of recent research on the city and its hinterland including the extensive geophysical survey of the city and recent excavations on the site of the Roman forum. Other papers will draw comparisons with research on other towns in the province, and re-examine some aspects of the debate about the end of towns in the province.

The event is being run jointly by St Albans Museums, St Albans and Hertfordshire Architectural and Archaeological Society (SAHAAS) and Welwyn Archaeological Society.

The programme is as follows:

09.30 - Doors open
10.00 - Welcome - Sandy Walkington, SAHAAS
10.10 - Mapping Verulamium - Dr Kris Lockyear, UCL Institute of Archaeology
10.40 – Recent work in the region - Simon West, District Archaeologist

11.10 – Break

11.35 – St Albans Cathedral’s ‘Roman Festival’ - Lindsay Wong
11.45 - Excavations at the Forum - James Fairbairn, Oxford Archaeology East
12.15 - Verulamium: the final centuries - Rosalind Niblett (former District Archaeologist)

12.45 – Lunch (See below for details of the medieval fortifications walk)

13.45 - Welcome back - Peter Bourton, SAHAAS
13.50 - 80 Years of Verulamium Museum - David Thorold, Verulamium Museum
14.00 - "My forum is bigger than your forum": responses to urbanism at Caistor-by-Norwich and Verulamium - Dr Will Bowden, Univ. of Nottingham
14.30 - Revisiting "Towns and the End of Roman Britain" - Dr Andrew Gardner (UCL Institute of Archaeology) and Dr Richard Reece

15.00 – Break

15.25 - The non-urban revolution: why towns don’t matter - Prof. Andrew Reynolds, UCL Institute of Archaeology
15.55 - Roundtable discussion - led by Dr James Gerrard, University of Newcastle
16.25 - And finally - Kris Lockyear

16.30 – Close

NB. For those wanting a brief change of theme during the lunch break, Dr Peter Burley will be leading a short walk to visit the location of the nearest surviving part of the town's medieval defences. It is also where the Wars of the Roses actually started and dramatic events unfolded in the First Battle on 22 May 1455. The walk will be limited to 25 people and lasts about 20 minutes. Please let us know if you wish to join the walk when you register on the Saturday morning of the conference. There will be no charge for this. Peter is co-author of The Battles of St Albans.

Coffee, tea and soft drinks will be available in the church hall during the breaks. Lunch is not provided. We invite attendees to bring their own food with them to eat in the hall or to pop out to one of several nearby pubs and cafés (3 minutes walk). Alternatively the city centre with the new St Albans Museum + Gallery is a 5 minute walk from the venue and the Cathedral with, what will be in June, its newly opened welcome centre just 10 minutes away.

Disabled facilities
The venue has disabled access and toilets. A loop system is available in the church. There is a small amount of roadside parking available close to the church.

There are several carparks within walking distance. These are (with all-day Saturday rates and walking distance to the venue):

  • The Maltings, New Kent Road entrance off Marlborough Road - £12.00 – 1 minute
  • Bricket Road - £10.80 – 3 minutes
  • London Road - £10.80 – 3 minutes
  • Ridgmont Road station carpark - £2.80 – 10 minutes

Note: all the tickets for this conference have now been sold. Please see the notice at the top of this page for details of the waiting list.

Attendees can receive refunds up to 7 days before the event start date.

There will be space in the church hall for anyone who wishes to display material relevant to the conference theme. Please let us know if you would like to avail yourself of this opportunity by emailing There is no charge.

Further Information
Please contact Jon Mein and Sally Pearson via

This page was added by Jonathan Mein on 12/04/2019.

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