Friday, 6 May 2011

Rome Remains in London

Yesterday I pottered of down to London to take a tour of some of the Roman remains. Although I knew that there were sections of the Roman wall remaining, as well as some small hidden pieces under shops, I was unaware how easily much of it could be seen. What follows is an account of some of the things I saw or was told about by our guide.

When the first (wooden) bridge accross the Thames was built the river was much wider than it is now. This was one of only two crossing points, the other being further up-stream. The Romans built their first temporary town either side of the river, but soon found that the south side was too marshy and began to concentrate more on the north bank. They built a fort, a small part of which can still be seen today. This was later incorporated into a wall wich stretched around an area roughly alligning with today's 'City of London', although also reaching down to where the tower now stands. Not much of this wall remains today, but some of it can be seen near Tower Hill underground, where there also stands a recostructed statue of one of the Roman Emperors, the head of which was found in the Thames. A lot of the stone from the wall (along with that of other Roman buildings) was reused during medieval times and sections of Roman tiles can be seen here in the later walls.

In the crypts of one church we saw a small section of tiled floor, remains of a Roman house. Here hypocaust tiles, pots and other artifacts were also found, some of which can be seen in the small museum. A temple dedicated to Mithras was found in the 1950s during building work and was rebuilt nearby- this can still be seen today. Interestingly, its structure shows similarities to a traditional church with 2 aisles and a main section. In the basement of the Guildhall Museum are the remains of London's amphitheatre. Entrance walls, room in which the animals were thought to have been kept, holes for doorhinges and sections of wood can still be clearly seen.

I thoroughly enjoyed my tour round a small section of Roman London and am looking forwar to going back and seeing more another time. I even bought a book called ' Under London' to help me find some of the more hidden places.

Have you discovered Roman London? If so, what were your favourite bits?

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