The 5 Best Roman Aqueducts in Britain | Historical Landmarks | History Hit

The 5 Best Roman Aqueducts in Britain

Discover the best Roman Aqueducts in the UK, from Durnovaria to the Dolaucothi Gold Mines.

Amy Irvine

04 Aug 2021

When it comes to travel inspiration, Roman Aqueducts in Britain provide many interesting possibilities with famous locations such as Durnovaria, Longovicium and the Dolaucothi Gold Mines being among the most popular to visit.

If you’re hoping to explore the Roman Aqueducts in the UK but are short on time, then these 5 famous places are probably your best bet.

Image Credit: Wikimedia: A. R. Yeo MortimerCat / CC by 2.5

1. Durnovaria

Durnovaria is the original Roman name for what is now the English town of Dorchester. The town contains the scarce remains of the ruined Romans aqueduct but only a few traces remain at Whitfield Farm.

The best Roman ruins in the town are the remains of a Roman townhouse dating from the 1st century AD, located on Northernhay behind the Town Hall.

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2. Longovicium

Longovicium was an auxiliary fort on Dere Street, in the Roman province of Britannia Inferior. The fort is estimated to have been built around 150 AD. Longovicium originally had two aqueducts, one of which was fed from an impounded source to the west. The dam harnessed the water of 21 springs and was 20 feet high and 110 yards in length, being stone faced and clay lined on the inside.

Despite not being on the scale of those supplying cities, the Longovicium aqueduct was nevertheless a significant feat of engineering, being considered one of the best preserved aqueducts in Britain.

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3. Dolaucothi Gold Mines

The Dolaucothi Gold Mines are ancient Roman surface and underground mines located in the valley of the River Cothi, near Pumsaint, Carmarthenshire, Wales. The gold mines are located within the Dolaucothi Estate which is now owned by the National Trust.

The Romans made extensive use of water carried by several aqueducts the longest of which is about 7 miles from its source in a gorge of the river, to prospect for the gold veins hidden beneath the soil on the hillsides above the modern village of Pumsaint. The larger aqueduct from the Cothi crosses this opencast, proving the opencast to be earlier.

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4. Aesica Roman Fort

Aesica was one of several Roman Forts build along the line of Hadrian’s Wall. It is thought to have been constructed in the early 2nd century. The fort was supplied by water from an aqueduct, which wound 6 miles from the head of the Haltwhistle Burn, north of the Wall.

Today the fort’s remains sit directly alongside a modern farm complex. A Roman bathhouse has also been found a short distance to the south of the fort, around 100 yards away.

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5. Chesters Roman Fort

Chesters Roman Fort, originally known as Cilurnum, was built as part of Hadrian’s Wall, the famous 73-mile barrier constructed under the remit of the Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century.

Chesters Roman Fort was built around 124 AD as a cavalry fort, and housed some 500 soldiers until the Romans left Britain in the 5th century.

By 178-84 AD the Second Asturians hailing from northern Spain were garrisoned at Chesters and would remain at the fort until the end of the Roman period. They would have witnessed the site’s heyday between 180-250 AD, when the fort and its surrounding civilian settlement would have been a bustling hub of activity. It was also then that the fort was rebuilt, and from which the current remains of the barracks date.

The Roman aqueduct that supplied water to Great Chesters Roman fort runs approximately 6 miles starting at the Caw Burn near Saughy Rigg. The aqueduct survives as an earthwork and as a buried feature.

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