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Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Romans, Wroxeter, Buildwas, Wolverhampton.


Although there may not be many signs of early occupation in the Black Country, this is not true of the surrounding area. You may all be aware of the Roman Marching Camp at Wall, near Lichfield, but how many of you have visited the other more extensive Roman site, at Wroxeter, in Shropshire. My last visit was some years ago, combined with a short tour of some other relics of the past. This may suprise you, but the rather large site at Wroxeter, was only discovered in 1975, and it soon became apparent, that it was much bigger than just a marching camp. It is in fact, the 4th largest Roman City in Briton. Garrisoned by the 14th Legion, from around AD48 - AD58, it steadily grew in size as the enterprising local natives set up shops and houses. It became a regular Fort during the reign of the Emperor Nero, as the invasion and subjication of the fierce Welsh Tribes began. ( Supposedly the last of the ancient Britons ) From AD58-AD69, the 20th Legion were based here, but as the trouble with the Welsh subsided, they were largely withdrawn. Somewhere between AD500 and AD600, the place was abandoned. There is a story, that Wroxeter was the base, from which the legendary King Arthur defended the last Britons from the rampaging advances of the dreaded Saxons. In theory then, you could be walking through the mystical streets of Camelot. Now theres a thought to wile away a few hours.


Just down the road a pace or two, lies the ancient ruins of Buildwas Abbey. The original home of a Savignac Order of Monks, later to merge with the Cistercians, it was built around 1135. Not admittedly, on the grand scale, as with other Abbeys, but at least with a bit of style. Like many others, it gained a great deal from the Wool trade, and as such, was in constant danger of raids from the envious Welsh. Apart from one incident in 1342, when one of the Monks, possible drunk, murdered the Abbot, nothing much of note happened at Buildwas. Prior to Henry VIII sacking and looting many monastries, this one surrendered to the Crown in 1535, and it was later given to Lord Powys, whose seat was at Welshpool.


Sheep were the key to great wealth in this Country, and at the heart of this trade were the Abbey's. Lilleshall Abbey, again in Shropshire, just north of modern day Telford, was no exception. Started in 1143 by the Arrousian Cannons, who had arrived from darkest Dorset, it was completed by 1148. ( There were several additions of course, as the money rolled in ) Henry III, (1207-1272) certainly found the place to his liking, twice visiting the place during his long reign. Like others, it was desolved, and gutted, by Henry VIII in 1538, the Choir Stalls, made around 1450, ending up in the centre of the Midlands Wool trade, Wolverhampton. Obviously purchased from the Kings agents by a wealthy wool merchant, they were installed in Saint Peters Church shortly afterwards. One last bit of information from my little tour of bygone days, Lilleshall Abbey, or what had remained, was the scene of a siege by the Parliament Forces in 1645. I should think that little episode certainly left the place in ruins.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

September 5, 2012 at 3:25 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Alaska.
Site Owner
Posts: 1404

Thomas Telford, Blists Hill, Dudley,


There is a whole load of history to be seen, starting from Buildwas. For a start, there is the story of Thomas Telford's Iron Bridge, which spanned the river here from 1796, and which replaced an old Medieval Bridge, swept away in The Shropshire Great Flood of 1795. It lasted until badly damaged in 1903, the supports can still be seen by a plaque at the roadside, giving it's history. The present Bridge dates from 1992, and some of the cast Iron supports can be found on the other bank of the River Severn. The bigger attraction is of course the many sites that make up the Museums of Ironbridge Gorge. The largest site, Blists Hill, contains more old buildings than you can shake a stick at, a mine, Iron works, and all the stuff you would expect to find in a Victorian Town. Further down we have Coalbrookdale, more Iron works, and the famous home of Coalport Pottery. Now it's a fact, that long before the folk of the Black Country had woken up and put their boots on, this area was alive with the sound of forge hammers, the hissing of steam, and a sky at night, red with the glow of furnaces, that would later on, be such a familier sight to many who came to view the wonder from the lofty heights of Dudley. They say that once you have visited one museum of this sort, you have seen it all, no you havn't. Each site has something different to offer the thousands who visit each year, whether it's in this region, or up north at Beamish, County Durham. There's a whole world to discover from a base in one of the many Black Country Towns. My friends and I did the journeys by bike, back in the 1950s and 60s, long before the museums came along, and although the hills were steep in places, it was well worth the effort. It still is, and anyone who lives here, and runs our region down, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Get out there and have a better look.

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A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

September 18, 2012 at 11:52 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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