Sites & cities that bear the name of Isca Dumnoniorum

Isca Dumnoniorum

Today in : United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
First trace of activity : 55 C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 4th century C.E
Recorded names : Caerwysg, Exeter

Description : Isca Dumnoniorum, also known simply as Isca, was originally a Roman legionary fortress for the Second Augustan Legion (established c. AD 55) in the Roman province of Britannia at the site of present-day Exeter in Devon. The town grew up around this fortress and served as the tribal capital of the Dumnonians under and after the Romans. The city walls of Exeter (some 70% of which survive) mark the former perimeter of Isca Following their initial invasions, the Romans established a 42-acre (17 ha) 'playing-card' shaped fort (Latin: castra) at the site around AD 55. It was the base of the 5 000-strong Second Augustan Legion (Legio II Augusta) for the next 20 years before they moved to Isca Augusta (modern Caerleon in Wales). Both Iscas were also home to their families as settlements are thought to have grown up outside the fortress gates, especially to the north-east. The fortress was given up around AD 75 and shortly afterwards its grounds were converted to civilian purposes. The military baths were too large for the local population and were largely demolished, although parts were incorporated into the forum and basilica built on the site. A smaller bathhouse was then built to the southeast. In the late 2nd century, the ditch and rampart defences around the fortress were replaced by a bank and wall enclosing a much larger area, some 92 acres (37 ha). There is evidence of copper and bronze working. A possible stock-yard has also been identified and Isca was clearly a key market for livestock, crops, and pottery produced in the surrounding countryside. The importance of Isca as a trading centre is demonstrated by the discovery of more than a thousand Roman coins around the city. However, the dates of these coins suggest that the city was at its most prosperous in the first half of the 4th century; virtually no coins dated after AD 380 have been found, suggesting a rapid decline.

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