Urban Decline

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Urban Decline

- Happened in the 4th century

- The basilica of the forum of Silchester was sub - divided in the late 3rd century into small units used for metal processing

- The great public baths and exercise court at Wroxeter ceased to be maintained and was abandoned around 300

- The forum and basilica at Leicester were destroyed by a fire in the early 4th century and never rebuilt 

- These all indicate urban decline

- Evidence from flourishing villas during this time prove that money was flowing from town to country

- The towns were degenerating into poorly maintained market centres and as trade declined country estates were forced to become more self sufficient with less contact with urban centres

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Urban Defences

- The locations of cities in Roman Britain were determined by economic and trading considerations rather than defence

- However almost all urban centres had defences and as conditions became less secure these were often strengthened, explaining why the most common defences of urban centres are their walls, e.g CHICHESTER

- As an indicator of urban prosperity or decline the walls of cities expand and contract in terms of area and thickness over time 

- The changes in urban defence systems also reflect the changes in thinking, which are clear from the defences of Roman forts

- These develop from the lighter defences of the 1st century turf and timber forts to the heavily defended forts e.g THE SAXON SHORE

- The walls of SILCHESTER have THREE phases displaying the expansion of the city and its contraction 

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Urban Defences

- The well preserved walls of LONDON and CAERWENT show how projecting artillery bastions were added in the 4th century to what were already heavily defended fortifications placed in the 3rd century

- City walls give evidence to early confidence = expansionism and subsequent contraction = insecurity

- The colonies of GLOUCESTER and LINCOLN 

- Both had sets of defences by early 2nd century. The earthen banks were about 1.5 metres thick with internal stone towers 

- The ellaboration of these defences shows the growing view that stronger defences were necessary because they were thickened, replaced in stone and raised in height

- Significant portions of LONDON'S wall survive to heights approaching 5 metres long, made from flint rubble and mortar, faced by small square stones with horizontal tiles at regular metre intervals to bond the wall

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Urban Defences

- The London wall stands on a heavy foundation

- Behind the stone and concrete wall was a heavy earthen bank

- In the 4th century, London in common with other cities further strengthened its defences by adding forward projecting bastions strong enough to support artillery

- They were made from solid stone and contained alot of re - used material from Roman buildings 

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