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New Discoveries
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Birmingham's Roman Fort (Metchley)
Barrack Block at Metchley Fort - Select to view larger image
Barrack Block at Metchley Fort

Birmingham's Roman fort (Metchley) is centred on what is now Vincent Drive in Edgbaston. Part of the site of the fort is now within the main campus of the University of Birmingham, and part is in the area of the University's Medical School and the QE Hospital. The outline of the fort could still be seen above ground in the early part of the 20th century, and some excavations in the 1930s when the Medical School was being built confirmed its Roman date. There were further excavations in the 1940s and 1950s, and a corner of the fort's defences was reconstructed.


Extensive excavations in the 1960s revealed remains of the fort's defences and timber buildings within it, including barrack blocks and granaries. The results suggested three periods of the fort's development, from its establishment just a few years after the Roman army landed in Kent to its abandonment by the end of the first century AD.

Several excavations have taken place since 1997 as part of the planning process for new developments by the Unversity and the proposed redevelopment of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. These excavations have transformed our knowledge of the fort. We now know that it was larger and occupied for a longer period than previously thought, and its remains are better preserved and more important than previously realised.


Excavations in 2003, 2004 and 2005 revealed:

Part of the fort’s ditches and ramparts
Timber gateways and a guard chamber
Roads which had been resurfaced
Timber buildings including barracks, granaries, workshops, stables, the headquarters building and the commanding officer’s house
Ovens and hearths

The pottery found on the site included:

Vessels that had been made on or close to the site itself
Vessels from the Severn Valley and Malvern Hills
Fine tableware from France and storage vessels that would have contained olive oil from southern Spain.
There were also several pieces of glass, from cups and bowls.

2005 Excavation Photographs * Main Findings from the Excavation * Roman Fort (Metchley) Leaflet (1.2Mb .PDF)

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Last updated - Friday 4 January 2008 Return to Top | Printer Friendly