As you read this you are standing on a Roman walkway. It was once patrolled by watchmen who kept guard over the walled town and its suburbs, to the countryside beyond. Apart from the risk of attack, one of the threats they would have been looking for was the outbreak of fire. Around AD 200 (about 80 years before the town wall was built) a fire destroyed the main public buildings in the centre of the town.

Who lived within the town walls?

Most of the several thousand townspeople of Caistor were not toga-wearing Romans. They were mainly the descendants of the local Celtic tribe, the Iceni. They accepted Roman ways, so that over the 350 years of Roman rule, Celtic and Roman cultures blended together.

The status of those living in the town ranged from the wealthy high-ranking members of the ruling local council, to the slave workers they owned. Free men and women also lived and worked in the town. If you look over the rails in front of you, you can see the actual footprints of one of Caistor's occupants. Preserved in the mortar on the top of the wall, are the impressions left by the studs of the hobnail boots worn by a Roman labourer, who worked on the wall 1700 years ago.

A pair of hobnail boots of the type worn by the Roman labourer who left his footprints in the wet mortar during construction of the town wall. The pattern of studs on the soles of the boots in the drawing are the same as the real footprints.

Last updated on 13 August 2009 by John Peterson

(e-mail j.peterson@uea.ac.uk)