Dorchester, Roman amphitheatre
Artist: Grimm, Samuel Hieronymus
Medium: Ink wash on paper
The Romans came to Dorchester ((Durnovaria) in 43 AD and quickly turned the settlement into a major garrison post and trading centre. At Maumbury Rings nearby, over an old Stone Age site, they built an amphitheatre, the largest in Britain measuring 345 ft by 337 ft - and like all Roman amphitheatres it had a bloody history! Here they held gladiatorial shows, sports events - even the odd execution or two - as well as religious ceremonies and civic functions. By the 17th century Dorchester had become a very wealthy and important Dorset town and the public gallows were situated on the old arena's centre stage.