A view in ink of a house at Old Durham. Near Gilesgate and the Church of St Giles, this area has been suggested as Durham's first settlement. The discovery of the remains of old bridge piers here, and further north at Kepier, have been taken as evidence that this was where a Roman road crossed the River Wear towards Hadrian's Wall. This theory became more likely when the remains of a Roman bathhouse were found accidentally at Old Durham in 1940. Once capable of producing both dry and damp heat, the bathhouse is believed to have been associated with an adjacent Roman villa - the northernmost in the Roman Empire.
Excavations at Old Durham suggest that the site was occupied from the second to fourth centuries AD. At the time Grimm made this drawing, it had become the site of a mansion belonging to the Heath family. This was demolished in the 18th century but its original terraced gardens remain.