Roman Londinium: A London walk in the past

A bronze statue of the Emperor Trajan
A bronze statue of the Emperor Trajan by Tower Hill underground station.

A walk in the past Roman Londinium

I belong to a meetup  group called “A walk in the past “.  This combines two of my loves history which I studied at University and walking.   Normally we meet in Bristol or surrounding areas but last week I  ventured further afield to London in search of Roman Londinium.  I was able to combine this with a visit to see my son who was happy to join me on the walk.

Our group met  at a suitably classical location, Trajan’s statue by Tower Hill tube station.  This is close to a surviving section of Roman  town wall. Roman walls can often be spotted as they have a tile level every couple of feet.  We were able to follow the wall for some distance and I was surprised by how much survives. We even found one section in a car park  with the brown tile levels clearly visible.

A section of Roman wall found in a car park clearly showing the tile levels.
A section of Roman wall hiding in a car park.

Roman London is buried under modern London and much of it remained undiscovered for centuries.  However during the second world war the blitz destroyed many buildings revealing Roman  remains.  One such building is the London Mithraem, the remains of a temple to Mithras. It has been  lovingly preserved and  is now in the basement of the Bloomberg building, the European headquarters of the American corporation.  It is beautifully present with a sound and light show.  It can be visited for free by prior arrangement. The London Mythraem They also have an interesting display of Roman artefacts found at the site including part of a collection of over 400 wax writing tablets. Another important building in any Roman town was the amphitheatre.  The London amphitheatre remained hidden until 1988 when developers rebuilding the Guildhall discovered unusual curved walls.  The remains can now be seen for free in the basement of the Guildhall.

Originally Colchester was the capital of Roman Britain but Londinium soon became more important.  Boudica led the Iceni on a raid which resulted in many wooden building being destroyed and it was decided to build a fort and walls to strengthen the town. Londinium  became more important under the emperor Hadrian who used his own money to build civic buildings.    The Romans were able to build a bridge across the Thames near the site of the modern Tower Bridge and it became an important trading port.  Lead from the Mendips and copper and tin from Cornwall were traded for olive oil , wine and other luxury goods. I was  shown the site of the London arena, where soldiers would have trained which was discovered about forty years ago and the enormous forum basilica. which is now under Leadenhall market. We ended our walk by looking at Roman artefacts in the excellent museum of London.  This is also free and is well worth a visit.  I particularly liked the model of the original London bridge.

If you want to find out more about a walk in the past:  A walk in the Past

 

4 Replies to “Roman Londinium: A London walk in the past”

I would love to hear from you.