The Romans in the Nene Valley

The 1st March sees a new book by Stephen Upex which explores the history of Roman Britain in our local area. It has 73 pages packed with colourful, easy to browse illustrations. There are numerous references to Peterborough and many of the surrounding villages.

“The Romans in the Nene Valley” is a new book published by the Nene Valley Archaeological Trust. Written by Dr Stephen Upex it consolidates much of what we know about the Peterborough area in Roman times. It does so with many colourful illustrations bringing to life the important military, industrial and agricultural activities which were taking place.

The walled Roman town of Durobrivae developed just to the south of the strategically important bridge carrying the primary route north across the River Nene. The new publication incorporates the latest evidence from geophysical surveys and excavation undertaken during the past few years. It also places Durobrivae in its wider context. The important pottery industry which brought great wealth to the area during the second and third centuries. The villa estates with their elaborate mosaics and bath houses. The massive and imposing administrative building sited to the north of the Nene on the current location of Castor church.

The book has further sections on topics such as diet, family life and religion before drawing conclusions on what happened to the Roman people, lifestyles and infrastructure in the Saxon period.

Stephen Upex has excavated, written about and researched the area for over 40 years. He is always keen to acknowledge the debt we owe to Edmund Artis who in the early 19th century first recorded local Roman archaeology in a systematic and pictorial way. This important book carries on the tradition of Artis’ “Durobrivae of Antoninus” first published in 1828. “Romans in the Nene Valley” will bring our local Roman history to a wider audience and inspire others to continue the process of discovery which has been going on for over 200 years.

Review by Rex Gibson, FRAG

The book forms part of a package of heritage projects undertaken by NVAT and the Nene Park Trust with the support of National Lottery funding from Nenescape. Also launched on 1st March 2022 are a series of four Heritage Trails in Nene Park which feature our Roman history.

The book costs £15. It can be ordered online from the Nene Valley Archaeological Trust but is also available from the Ferry Meadows Visitor Centre.