WITHIN days of Belgarum highlighting the issue the only surviving piece of Roman Winchester has been weeded.

The stone wall sits inside a grotto on The Weirs next to the Bishop on the Bridge pub. In recent months the wall has been engulfed with plant growth.

This column wrote a piece and the city council sent a team to clear the weeds.

It prompted Belgarum, whose name was inspired by the Roman name for the city, Venta Belgarum, to ponder the history of the small structure that is largely ignored by passers-by.

What was it for? Who built it? and when? Was the wall part of the city defences or was it a house, a meeting place, a shop or a warehouse? It was definitely next to the river which, according to the information sign on the wooden railings, was much wider than it is today.

The fact that the wall is now below ground shows how the ground level has risen in the 1,600-1,800 years since.

Who might have built it? A Roman workmen from the far reaches of the Empire - Morocco, Greece or Turkey? Or perhaps a native craftsman living in a round hut at Owslebury or Twyford and commuting in every day? The native Britons would have done the manual labour of bringing in the stone, while their Roman overseers, not necessarily from Rome, would have given the instructions.

About the only thing we can be fairly certain of is that it was constructed before 410AD when the Romans retreated from Britain to better defend the heart of their empire from the attacks of the pagan invaders, the Goths, the Huns, the Alans and the Lombards.

Winchester slumped into anarchy as the Angles and Saxons invaded and pushed aside the Britons. Winchester is thought to have been largely abandoned before its later rebirth and growth from the seventh century onwards.