University of Leicester
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The water supplies and related structures of Roman Britain - Volume 1

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:42 authored by Alfonso. Burgers
Information is provided on the remains of aqueducts, wells, Roman baths, drains, pipes, springs and tanks, from 807 sites in Roman Britain (fortresses, forts, towns, small towns, settlements and villas). The introduction of running water supplies and baths had considerable social implications, for urban and rural communities. Aqueducts are the most intensively researched water-related structure of Roman date; evidence from Britain is presented in detail. Particular attention focuses on unresolved structural problems (Leicester, Lincoln). Wells were also important for water supply at all site types, especially for domestic use; possible religious aspects are also discussed. The layout of bath buildings is reviewed, and the provision of drains and sewers. Distributions of all the various water-related structures, based on the archaeological record, are evaluated. Several points emerge from this analysis, i.e. a number of settlements should be reclassified based on their possession of public baths or running water supplies.;Generally, these systems are poorly understood, partly through concentration of past fieldwork on monumental and domestic structures (areas outside buildings have rarely been investigated in detail). Britain's high annual rainfall has tended to diminish the importance attached by scholars to water-related features. There has been a general reluctance to discuss water supply and baths in studies of urban and villa development. These factors have tended to obscure their relevance both socially and technically, resulting in a lack of appreciation of the complexities surrounding water supply. An attempt is made to quantify the labour organisation and costs of well and aqueduct construction, to show the impressive scale of some Romano-British ventures.;It is concluded that water-related features are generally under-represented in the archaeological record, compared to the number of known sites. This can only be corrected by considerable additional fieldwork and re-evaluation of existing information.


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University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

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  • PhD



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