Lunt Roman Fort in Coventry, England, now and then.

March 16, 2024

Not content with my stroll around the pastoral delights of Chatsworth Park earlier this week, I headed out again today to see the site of the Roman fort known as The Lunt, near Coventry.

Events & Festivals — Lunt Roman Fort

The Lunt is a site I’ve wanted to go to for a very long time but its opening hours are sadly, shall we say, not that friendly and it never seems to coincide with my schedule.  Thankfully, however, I’ve now managed to break that duck and get across to see it.  And I’m very glad I have.

The main attractions of the site are the reconstructed elements – namely a gateway and section of wall, a horreum (a storehouse / granary) and a gyrus (a horse training ring).  These were very well done and added a sense of realism to the site that few others can match (except perhaps Arbeia).  Although the metal fencing around a section of the wall was rather ugly and incongruous and it worryingly looks like some of the site will need some TLC soon, that doesn’t detract from the impact of seeing a large timber Roman military gateway and imagining how imposing it would have been when implanted on the native landscape.

 

 

 

The fort was probably constructed as a direct consequence of the Boudican uprising in AD60/61, and was in use until the late AD70s, interestingly also about the same time that the IInd Adiutrix Legion left Lincoln to go to Chester. The singular most important discovery at the site is the gyrus, simply because it is currently the only example known from Britain.  The large, circular arena is 34m in diameter and has a double gated entrance.  The structure was designed for training horses and various items of cavalry equipment were discovered during the excavations.  The existence of the gyrus even affected the shape of the fort’s defences, which bow out on one side to echo the gyrus’ form.

 

 

 The horreum is the only internal building to be reconstructed.  The term is usually translated into English as ‘granary’, though horrea could actually be used to store a variety of goods and produce.  The timber example here is lifted from the floor on wooden stilts – a style employed to allow air to circulate and potentially keep out pests, though anyone who has ever had pet rats or mice might doubt that a foot of timber would stop them.  The interior of the reconstructed horreum is being used for something far more interesting than wheat, as it forms the museum and education centre for the site.  The displays are simple but effective, and give a good account of life in the Roman army and a basic overview of subjects such as religion and coinage.  The large reconstruction model of the fort was a favourite of mine, as I’m always a sucker for some good old fashioned model making. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The museum contains a number of objects excavated at the site, but my favourite has to be their very fine example of a ‘penis and fist pendant’, worn as a good luck charm.  These are often found in military contexts, but this copper alloy example is in fantastic condition, and was very well made originally with some lovely detail, particularly on the fist, which is making the usual ‘manus fico’ symbol.