What is a Vicus?
The word vicus comes from the Roman period and was used to describe an area of a settlement, a neighbourhood, or the district of a town. The plural for the word is vici.
The vici held the lowest legal status in view of Roman terms. Some of them had a magistrate, and there were no administrative buildings. However, a few vici have shown only 1 main building. The vici were unplanned and generally grew up around forts where Roman soldiers were stationed, Imperial estates and private residences.
The smaller ones were unplanned and sprang up randomly, these could expand as there were no boundaries to stop their development. The more formal sites had defences in the way, for example, banks and ditches, which made expansion difficult. Some of the larger vici developed into later towns, and were then called Civitas.
The Vici supplied the goods and services to the soldiers, or families, of the places where they were located. The ones at forts became popular as the soldiers had money to spend. The people of the vici provided goods and services to them, however, when the soldiers withdrew, most of the vici were abandoned. Some of the larger ones were able to survive as they had become focal places for the local areas.
The vici did not always stay the same size. Evidence has been found that when numbers of soldiers increased at a fort, so did the people in the vici – and when some of the soldiers withdrew, and only a small portion remained, then the vici became smaller.
Try and get along to the remains of one and imagine how they may have looked in Roman times!
Archaeology Wow!! – Richard III Burial
Richard III was the last Plantagenet King of England (1483-1485), and the last monarch to lead his army into battle on the battlefield. He was killed during a period known as the Wars of the Roses. Where two very powerful families from the House of Plantagenet – those of York and Lancaster – fought to gain the English crown. The York side had the white rose as their emblem and Lancaster house had the red rose as theirs. That is why the wars were known as the Wars of the Roses.
Richard III died at the final battle in the war, the Battle of Bosworth Field and legend stated that his body was either thrown in a ditch, or the nearby river. However, he was actually buried in Greyfrier’s Church, Leicestershire.
In September 2012 the University of Leicester led an archaeological dig in an area where they beleived the kings body may have been buried – under a car-park where the old church once stood. Greyfriers had been demolished following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, between 1536-1541, and over time the site had been lost due to developments.
The remains of a man with curvature of the spine, was uncovered during the dig. It is known that Richard III had this curvature and was often referred to as a hunchback. Everyone became really excited, and the bones were carefully removed and then underwent intensive investigation to see whether they had actually found the remains of the King.
Research amazingly turned up a relative from the kings family tree, living in Canada, and they were able to match the DNA – there was no doubt that Richard III had been found!
From the kings remains a facial reconstruction was possible, and the above image shows how Richard III looked when he was alive. His bones also showed that he had died after being struck in the head by either a sword or a very sharp, heavy implement. Other marks on the bones showed that some injures that had occurred after he had died. These are known as possible humiliation wounds – that is, people trying to humiliate the dead king.
This was an amazing find, and once again archaeology has been able to prove that although myth and legend have their place in history, they may not always be true.
Archaeological Site Guide – Jamestown, America
Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement on American soil and dates from 1607. The people who settled there were financed by, and represented, the Virginia Company from London, and the settlement was known as the Colony of Virginia.
The people who first arrived were 104 men and 4 boys. They had different occupations and set about building a fort in which to live and defend themselves from the local native Indian population, and this was called James Fort.
As more people came to settle in the colony they outgrew the fort and in 1623 people began living in the area outside of it which they called New Towne.
The most famous resident of Jamestown was Captain John Smith, the leader of the colony. He was rescued by the Indian princess Pocahontas from being killed by the other Indians. He also wrote 6 books about the history of the colony, The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England and the Summer Isles, in 1624.
The very first African-American slaves were brought to Jamestown to work on the tobacco plantations.
Jamestown was the capital of the colony for 83 years but in 1699 the capital was moved to Williamsburg, and Jamestown then went into a gradual decline.
Here is a basic outline of some of the history of the site,
Archaeology from the site, since the 1930’s, has uncovered more than 100 building foundations, roads and wells. Finds from the site include,
‘Scissors, pins, needles, thimbles, candlesticks, snuffers, tongs, andirons, iron pots, trammels, ladles, pans, knives, pot hooks, forks, spoons, earthenware, buckles, buttons, carpenters tools, blacksmiths tools, bboatbuilding tools, ovens, tools for cultivating, tobacco, fish hooks, stirrups, horse shoes, book clasps’ (Wartenbaker 1957),
As well as complete glass bottles, bottle seals, adzes, axes, pieces of leather shoes, evidence of wine making, glass making and pottery.
Jamestown is a unique place – as the first English settled site in America and well worth a visit to see how people lived and survived in a newly discovered land, using only the resources they had brought with them…….
Great Books to Read…….
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