Series of five images showing aerial views of Caistor Roman Town as it might have looked in the 4th century AD (© Daniel Voisey)

Caistor Roman Town (Venta Icenorum)

The end of Venta Icenorum


The wealthy Roman province of Britain was a tempting target for the tribes of Angles, Saxons and Frisians of northern Germany and Holland. Eventually they attacked, leading to the downfall of Roamn Britain and the decline of Venta Icenorum. 

Further information

Romans under attack

In about AD 200 the tribes of Angles, Saxons and Frisians began to attack the British coastline forcing the Romans to develop a defence system. They built a long line of forts from Norfolk to Hampshire. This chain has come to be known as the Saxon Shore.

Corner bastion & walls at the Roman Saxon Shore Fort at Burgh Castle (© Sue White)Roman forts in Norfolk

There were three forts in Norfolk: at Brancaster, on the north coast, at Burgh Castle and at Caister-on-Sea in the east. In the fourth century the Caister fort was built and worked alongside the one at Burgh Castle, which you can see today. If there was a chance of attack, then the signal station would pass the news on to the next fort along.

There was very little the Romans could do to prevent their province of Britain from being invaded. Caistor St Edmund was probably one of the first Roman towns to fall to the Anglo Saxons because it was so near to the east coast. An early Saxon cemetery was found very near to the town.

Problems for the Romans back home

The Romans were having even greater problems at home in Italy. At the end of the fourth century the barbarian Goths, Vandals and Huns were pouring in and soldiers were being recalled from all over the Empire to help fight them.

Britain was no exception, and by AD 400, most of the Roman army had left the British to face the invaders alone. In the end the forts were abandoned. Their walls were demolished in later centuries by people who wanted the stone to build churches and houses.

The Roman civilisation which had taken root and grown in Britain was gone. The descendants of Boudica's Iceni had to change once again. This time they were to come under the influences of the new settlers - the Anglo Saxons.

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Last updated on: 31 May 2007

Series of five images showing how Caistor Roman Town might have looked from the ground in the 4th century AD (© Daniel Voisey)