Gloucester City Museums reacted to the zealous regeneration of the city’s historic centre in the 1960s by appointing a graduate student, Henry Hurst, to lead a massive campaign of rescue excavations.
Concentrating around Southgate Street, Hurst’s meticulous open-area investigations revealed the Roman legionary headquarters, over which he discovered remains of the later Roman forum. Above lay the very different archaeology of the 10th-century renewal of the town, an Anglo-Saxon basis for the city’s heyday in the 13th century. I was a young volunteer on these excavations, spellbound by Hurst’s masterful management of slim resources to tell a great story about one of Britain’s first coloniae, then an early Roman city and its medieval successor.
This marvellous report – long in gestation – is not only a great tribute to its author and Gloucester Museum, but wonderfully showcases the huge pre-modern significance of this Severn-side city.
Gloucester: the Roman forum and post-Roman sequence at the city centre, H E Hurst, Gloucester Archaeological Publications, £25, ISBN 978-0948386022.
Review by Richard Hodges.