The Roman Theatre of Verulamium, St Albans
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
When we say 'theatre' today we tend to think of plays, or opera, or musical performances, In Roman Britain, however, the range of entertainment at a theatre was much more far-ranging. The theatre at Verulamium was used for activities as diverse as armed combat, wrestling matches, dancing, and religious ceremonies. Events would begin with a sacrifice to the gods in a nearby temple, followed by a procession to the theatre, led by priests.
It is likely that performances of plays by classical Greek and Roman playwrights would have been performed, but even more popular would have been a form of pantomime, where actors simply mimed actions and danced while a chorus sang words to musical accompaniment.
By 380 AD the theatre fell out of use, and seems to have been left to decay. It was eventually buried under the detritus of centuries, and was only rediscovered again in 1865 and not excavated until 1935.
Why did it cease being used so long before the departure of the Romans in the early 5th century?
By far the easiest way to visit the theatre is to park at the large Verulamium Museum parking area and follow the footpath sign. You have to cross the A4147 at the lights, and walk to the start of the Gorhambury estate drive. There is a small ticket kiosk, and the site is immediately beside the driveway to Gorhambury House.
I was quite impressed with the site, more than I thought I would be! There are information panels around the site, showing how it developed over time and how it was used. It should not take more than 15-30 minutes at most to explore the site, but it is actually quite impressive. Even though I visited on a rainy, grey day, I really enjoyed myself.
About The Roman Theatre of Verulamium
Address: Bluehouse Hill, St Albans, Hertfordshire, England, AL3 6AE
Attraction Type: Roman Site
Location: At the junction of the A4147 (Hemel Hempstead Road) and Gorhambury Drive. Parking across the road at the Verulamium Museum.
Website: The Roman Theatre of Verulamium
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
Verulamium Museum - 0.1 miles (Roman Site)
Verulamium Hypocaust and Mosaic - 0.3 miles (Roman Site)
St Albans Roman Wall - 0.4 miles (Roman Site)
St. Albans Cathedral - 0.7 miles (Cathedral)
St Albans Clock Tower - 0.7 miles (Historic Building)
Gorhambury House - 1.4 miles (Historic House)
Old Gorhambury House - 1.6 miles (Historic Building)
Luton Hoo Walled Garden - 6 miles (Garden)
Nearest Accommodation to The Roman Theatre of Verulamium: