A little bit of Roman in us all

Launching one of the Exeter Gins last week has got us feeling all Roman! It’s not just modern-day Londoners making a break for our rolling hills, seaside, fine weather and laid back style; those Romans knew a good thing when they saw it. #SoHoEx has been out and about to find out more about the first settlement of Isca Dumnoniorum (that’s “plentiful river flowing with fish of the Dumnonian tribe” to you and me).

Turns out the Roman Walls that still encircle the city (70% of which are still standing and well worth a stroll) aren’t the earliest Roman remains. Back in AD55 over 5,000 Legionaries from the Legio II Augusta set up camp in the heartland of the native Dumnonians. The military baths (those Romans were into clean living) are still sitting under what is now Cathedral Green and its environs. Just what the locals felt about all those men descending on their sleepy settlement is anyone’s guess…..but those latin lovers managed to charm enough of them to start families and settlements outside the barracks and those families stayed on after the Legion decamped to Caerleon 20 years later.

Indeed, thanks to the outreach of the legionaries, Isca was deemed civilised enough for Roman colonial families to move to. Well after the soldiers marched away and into Wales, wealthy Romans moved in to push the Roman Empire to its furthest western border in England. Coins found at various sites span the period from Emperor Nero (Boudicca was the main story in England during his reign) right up to Emperor Constantine – the first Christian Emperor, in the 4th century AD.

It’s only proper that we encourage you to ponder on the Isca Romans over your Exeter G&T!