Much of the site where Roman Wroxeter stood has escaped later development and thus remains a wholly Roman foundation with no overbuilding. Initially utilised as a temporary army base, the principal military phase appears to have been between AD58 to 75 when a permanent fortress was established on the site, originally housing the 14th Legion and then the 20th Legion.
Viroconium later became the tribal capital of the Cornovii with its own civil administration, and enjoyed a degree of local autonomy for its civilian settlement, which soon expanded well beyond the confines of the fort. When the city was eventually provided with defences during the latter 2nd century it enclosed an area of about 170 acres, making Viroconium the fourth largest city in Roman Britain. Earlier in this century, during the rule of the military emperor Hadrian, a new civic centre was built with a bath house, Basilica and a number of substantial colonnaded structures. A thriving Romano-British city, populated by retired soldiers and traders, streets laid out in the famous grid-system and more-or-less self-governing, Viroconium presents one of the finest examples of efficient civic planning in Roman Britain.
The most conspicuous feature remaining to us in Wroxeter from the Roman period, is a section of fine upstanding masonry known as the "Old Work", part of the south wall of a once imposing building, which formed an exercise-hall or palaestra for the public baths. It collapsed in about AD350 at a time when many of the town's structures were becoming derelict from a lack of maintenance, although life continued in Viroconium well into the 5th and possibly even the 6th century before being finally abandoned.
The remains of the 2nd century municipal baths take up a fair portion of the rest of the site, with the floor plan of the frigidarium, tepidarium and caldarium clearly visible. Nearby is the remnant of a small swimming-bath or piscina, a fairly rare feature of normal Roman baths. Many of the artefacts from the site can be viewed in the local museum, which also details how Roman Wroxeter functioned, giving an insight to the lives of its inhabitants.