The Roman theatre at St Albans, Hertfordshire, England is an excavated site within the Roman walled city of Verulamium. The Roman Theatre of Verulamium is unique – although there are other Roman theatres in Britain (for example at Camulodunum), the one at Verulamium is claimed to be the only example of its kind, being a theatre with a stage rather than an amphitheatre. The theatre differs from the typical Roman theatre in being built on a site that is only slightly sloping, and in its plan (although there are theatres with similar plans in Northern Gaul).
The theatre was built in about 140AD, on the site of an earlier Celtic water shrine, and beside the major Roman road of Watling Street. Initially, the arena would have been used for anything from religious processions and dancing, to wrestling, armed combat and wild beast shows. From about 180AD the stage came into greater use and the auditorium extended. By about 300AD, after some redevelopment work, the Theatre could seat 2000 spectators. Its fine acoustics were perfectly suited to musical and dramatic performances. Urban life continued in Verulamium into the 5th century. However, by that time the theatre had fallen into disuse. It was used as a rubbish dump in the 4th century. It was excavated in the 19th century, and again in the 1930s by Kathleen Kenyon.
The ruins one can see today were unearthed in 1847. Subsequent excavations have revealed a row of shop foundations, a Roman Villa and a secret shrine, all thought to date from the First Century.
Visiting St Albans (Verulamium) Theatre
It is an easy site to visit, with parking 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. See their website for ticket prices.
Sites near St Albans (Verulamium) Theatre
- Saint Albans (Verulamium) Fort (0 km)
Claudian Auxiliary Fort (AD 43–54) and Flavian Auxiliary Fort (AD 69–96)
- Verulamium Hypocaust and Mosaic (1 km)
- St Albans (Verulamium) Roman Settlement (1 km)
British Capital and Flavian Auxiliary Fort (AD 69–96)
- Gorhambury Rural Villa (2 km)
- Park Street Villa (5 km)
- Wheathampstead Hillfort (8 km)
Iron Age Hillfort
- Gadebridge Park Villa (8 km)
- Boxmoor Roman Villa (10 km)
- Brockley Hill (Sulloniacae) Roman Settlement (13 km)
Claudian Auxiliary Fort (AD 43–54), Pottery and Vicus
- Welwyn Settlement (13 km)