In 43 AD, Aulus Plautus led a large Roman
invasion force across the channel and most
of lowland Britain was overrun within a fairly
short period. The arrival of the Romans in
the area may be associated with an assault
on the Sutton Walls hill fort, six kilometres
to the north of modern Hereford, where skeletons
showing signs of violent death have been found.
lowland Britain, including Herefordshire,
farmers benefited from this trade. Although
1st century sites in some parts of the county
show little Roman influence, other settlements,
although otherwise unchanged from pre-Conquest
times, began to use high quality mass-produced
tableware and a range other consumer durables.
Imported wine became common. Here and there,
rectangular buildings in the Roman style replaced
the native circular farmhouses. These new
houses were more likely to be of stone, and
where wealth permitted, fitted with mosaic
floors, painted wall plaster and central heating.
presence of a large Roman army had a
major effect upon the economy. Agriculture
was, as in all pre-industrial societies,
by far the principal occupation of people.
Now, however, there was a guaranteed
market for surplus farm produce. The
army required vast quantities of grain
as the staple diet of its troops. It
also required meat, fish, vegetables
and fruit. Other requirements were horses
for cavalry units and transport, and
hides for tents, footwear and clothing.
Britain became part of an empire which stretched
from southern Scotland to the Middle East
and North Africa and within which there was
a single currency, and at least in the towns,
a common culture.
The Herefordshire countryside at this time
would have been fairly open farmland and crossed
by both major paved roads and minor tracks.
The main changes in the landscape from that
of the Iron Age were the paved roads which
ignored previous boundaries. In this landscape
were towns, villages and farmhouses. Fields
of corn and meadows with grazing animals would
have been as characteristic of the area then
as they would be for centuries to come.In
the south of the county, at Weston-under-Penyard,
Ariconium was a major industrial centre. Thousands
of tons of Roman slag in the area suggest
that iron-working continued for centuries
there, fed by the local ores and the carefully
managed woods of the Forest of Dean.
some settlements may have been new, many people
continued to live in places that had been
inhabited in of pre-Roman times. Occupation
at the Sutton Walls hillfort continued through
much of the Roman period. Probably more typical
were the lowland villages, scattered through
One of the innovations of the Roman period
in Britain was the introduction of machinery.
Water mills were a vast improvement on the
manual processing of grain which had been
practised before using quernstones often found
by archaeologists on Iron Age sites. A Roman
period water mill has recently been found at
Wellington, in the Lugg Valley to the north of
Even though there have been fairly frequent
Roman finds in Hereford City itself this is
probably due to the amount of archaeological
work carried out there. Roman occupation
sites produce far more Roman material and it
is fairly certain that there was no
settlement at Hereford during this period.
However the east-west road from Kenchester
to Worcester runs just to the North of
Hereford (where it is known simply as ‘The
Roman Road’) and it is possible that a
shrine or temple existed in the area.
It is to the south of the Wye that the
firmest evidence of Roman period activity
within the modern city boundary has been
found. On higher ground where the old SAS
regiment barracks once stood, the bases of
iron-working hearths are the first definite
Romano-British evidence from Hereford.