A Roman ruin in Coventry that is thought to house the only known gyrus in the Roman Empire could be given a revamp to boost visitor numbers.
Located in the village of Baginton on the outskirts of Coventry, the Lunt Roman Fort was built around 60 AD to act as a supply depot and base for the Roman Army during the uprising led by Boudica, Queen of the Iceni.
Since discovery in the 1930s, the fort has been fully excavated and partially reconstructed with features including a ‘gyrus’ – a ring used for training horses – a reconstructed wooden gateway, and a granary which houses grain for the troops and stored equipment, however other parts are largely foundations.
The Gyrus at The Lunt Roman Fort in Bagington.
Despite being open to the public, visitor numbers are low with just 5,345 people visiting the fort between April and August in 2018/19 compared to 7,152 the year before, and it is mainly visited for educational purposes with around 5,000 children per year visiting from some 200 schools.
A report to the council’s scrutiny board this week said there is a plan to reconstruct the ramparts and entrance tower, but capital funding is needed and the city council – who manages the site – is investigating possible sources of funding.
But councillors have piled on pressure for more to be done to showcase a unique slice of Coventry’s history ahead of the City of Culture 2021 year.
The Gateway and ramparts at the Lunt Roman Fort in Baginton.
Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Roger Bailey, who is also a keen historian and a tour-guide, said: “We have a very unique site that needs a bit of tender loving care that we don’t make anything of.
“This is a unique Roman site with a training circle for horses, there’s nothing else like it. We just don’t do anything about it at all.”
Chair of the board, Cllr Richard Brown, cited the work York has done to showcase its history from the Viking Invasion of York in 866 AD.
He said: “We are just letting this one slip.
“It is a fantastic asset unique to Coventry and it seems to be forgotten all the time.
“It is a fantastic historical site. The gyrus is the only one of its kind in Europe I believe and is unique to Coventry.
“There’s an awful lot more that we can do with that.
“Going around Lunt Fort there’s a lot of foundations and that’s it. There’s the granary and barrack rooms that you could rebuild again in the style of it.
“I look at the visitor numbers, nearly 7,000 and it has dropped down to 5,000. It is on a massive slide and we need to do something about it as it is such a shame.”
Lunt Roman Fort is an archaeological site at Baginton
Andy Williams, Director of Business Investment and Culture at the city council said discussions are still ongoing, but the project is to return to a future scrutiny meeting.
He added: “We will go for as much funding as we can get.
“That will be city-council led in terms of that. I do think there’s a lot more we can do and we need to find different ways of doing it.”