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24 September 2014

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Tour the legacy of the Romans' remains

Gyrus (Cavalry training ring)
Click on the image above to launch a 360 degree view of the Gyrus at the Lunt fort
The Romans invaded this part of the country in the first century AD and set up a training centre in the village of Baginton.

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The Lunt Roman Fort in Baginton village is on the southern edge of Coventry.

To get there, the fort is just off the A45 and A46 and is situated off the Coventry Road.

Admission charges:
Adults £2.00
Concessions £1.00

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Review by Martin Winch

So just exactly what did the Romans ever do for us?

Well, quite a lot really. For starters there were the roads. Not to mention social order. The fresh water supplies and central heating. And the �.

.... Lunt Fort!

All in all the Roman invasion of Britain which began in 43 AD is one of the most significant in our history.

Which means all the more reason to find out more from the remains that have been discovered.

History of the Lunt Roman Fort
It is widely regarded that the Lunt Fort in Baginton was used as a horse training centre by the Romans.

After a revolt from the Iceni tribe of East Anglia in 60 AD, Suetonious Paullinus, the Roman Governor of Britain, sought vengeance and set up the fort in the village.

This base in Warwickshire would have been ideal for the Governor who had been overseeing a campaign in North Wales prior to this.

Discovery of the Lunt Fort

It was in the 1930s that evidence of a heavy Roman presence in the vicinity came to light.

Pottery was found during gravel working in the village and in the early 1960s the fort’s defensive ditches were discovered.

Over the years more archaeological works have been carried out and the fort as it is today has taken shape.

Enter the Fort to begin a tour
Entering the Lunt Roman Fort is done so through the porta principalis sinistra (or for those who like me never could understand latin, the eastern gateway).

 Porta Principalis Sinistra (Eastern gateway of Lunt Fort)
Porta Principalis Sinistra
Sadly the walls that flank the gateway and form the basis of the eastern defence have deteriorated over the years and are currently unsafe for the public.

It really is a shame because I can only enthuse about the views from the top of the timber superstructure after I was allowed up briefly to photograph the site for the purpose of this piece.

Pictures of the Lunt Roman Fort
Click the images button below to check out the photo gallery.

images button

Overlooking the Fort
The term Lunt refers to trees and wooded slopes and from the top of the gateway you can see over the adjacent coppice to the north and look down over the river Sowe which runs below.

The high vantage point gives an excellent opportunity to take in Coventry’s Skyline.

Inside the fort there are two main features. The Gyrus (cavalry training ring) and Horrea (Granary).

If archaeologists are correct then the Gyrus would have been at the heart of the fort.

On entering the 34 metre in diameter ring through a double gate, you get an impression of what it was like to have worked horses.

But there is also get a sense of the intimidation a circular arena brings and despite this one being relatively small, my thoughts did wander to those of a gladiator in the Colosseum!

More buildings please!
There is hope that in the future the fort will house more buildings.

 Site of Roman building at Lunt Fort
Could this be built on in the future?
At the moment only the Horrea exists which means you do not get a true feel for how active the Lunt would have been.

This is partly made up for if you take a look around the Horrea.

Inside is a wealth of information about the Romans - with a carefully crafted centrepiece which shows how the site may have looked.

Weapons of choice

Because it is a military site, there are a couple of weapons on display that were constructed by staff and pupils at Coventry’s Woodlands school.

The Scorpione was an early form of crossbow which fired nine-inch iron bolts at the enemy.

By slinging rocks and boulders, the Onager or Wild Ass (it got its name due to the weapon’s hefty kick) sits outside in the grounds of the fort, ready for action.

From time to time the Lunt Fort hosts re-enactments and this really does bring the Fort back to life.

 Lunt Fort
Abdas was part of the re-enactment, click for a 360 degree view of his camp
Re-enactors set up camp around the site and get into character to offer answers to a questioning public who come to learn more about our predecessors.

It's a thoroughly enjoyable spectacle that allows people to get a flavour of what the site could have been like way back in the first century.

Their are usually demonstrations of military manoeuvres and camp life.

Lunt Fort re-enactments
Click on the images button below to see some pictures from a re-enactment event that often come to the Lunt Fort.

images button

Fort comes recommended
There are archaeological projects currently on the go, but they are due to finish.

If you go there expecting to be whisked back to Roman times then you would be best to visit the fort when they have their re-enactments and demonstrations.

Yes, I recommend visiting it - but it only takes around half-an-hour.

The Romans left behind a great legacy.

If the Lunt Fort is to become a bigger attraction it needs to better maintain what it already has and build a lot more on what remains from the first century AD.

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