OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

London's Roman Remains page 2


Pages: 1 <2>

Singularly little evidence as to the street plan of the Roman city has been recovered. This plan must be considered in relation with two dominant factors -the position of the city gates and that of the Roman bridge. Of the Roman gates definite remains have been found at Newgate and less certain remains at one or two of the others, but the Roman road system demands that Aldgate, Bishopsgate, Cripple-gate, Aldersgate and Ludgate should all be regarded as of Roman origin; whilst the line of Roman relics found across the river immediately east of the medieval London Bridge suggests that the Roman bridge stood close to its successor.

The other determining feature within the boundaries of the city was the Walbrook, which may be suspected to have divided the Roman town-plan into two distinct parts. Now there is evidence to suggest that this brook was bridged at two points; the first, opposite the east end of Bucklersbury, near the Mansion House, and the other on the south side of Cannon Street. From the northern of these crossings a long drain which may well have flanked a road proceeds north-westwards in the direction of Newgate, and the same line passes beneath the tower of Bow Church, which is recorded to have been built by Sir Christopher Wren on a Roman causeway. It is probable, therefore, that Newgate Street marks a part of the line of one of the principal Roman streets.

To the east of the Walbrook, a line joining the more southerly crossing with a fragment of Roman street found long ago in Eastcheap aligns with the old position of London Stone and cuts through no known Roman building. A parallel line eastwards from the northern crossing of the Walbrook also cuts no Roman building and coincides with a line of arcading - possibly a Roman shop-front - found a few years ago close to Gracechurch Street. Streets drawn in the Roman manner at right angles to these in such a way as to pass the ends of the basilica described above produce a large "insula" or island about 480 feet square, which is, singularly enough, an exact multiple of a land measurement commonly used by the Romans in laying out their towns. The conjecture, therefore, that we may recognize here some of the elements of the Roman plan of London is not unlikely, but further evidence is admittedly required.

Outside the walls of the city lay the cemeteries, which in a properly regulated Roman town were forbidden inside the walls. Urns, coffins and inscriptions from these cemeteries may be found in several of the museums of London, and not merely are they in many cases of considerable historic interest, but their abundance immediately outside the walls shows that the Roman, like the medieval city, lay almost exclusively within its defences.

A final point demands brief notice. What was the political position of Roman London within the province? We have seen that at the time of the Roman conquest Colchester, already the native headquarters, was taken over by the invaders as the new provincial capital. There is no evidence, however, that Colchester maintained the premier position after its failure in the year 60. On the other hand, an inscription found in London and recording a dedication by the Province of Britain to the Divinity of the Emperor suggests that the main centre of Emperor worship, which was normally situated in the capital of a province, was at some period transferred from Colchester to London. Moreover the literary record mentions London as the seat of financial control, and consistent with this is the intermittent issue of coinage from London between 286 and 388, although this privilege may have been shared, perhaps, by other Romano-British cities.

Lastly, the high-sounding title, Augusta, and the use of London, in the fourth century, as a headquarters by officers such as Theodosius, all suggest that the great centre of the Romano-British road-system was something more than a mere gateway into Britain. Without, therefore pressing the term "capital" too closely, we may say that in a general sense Roman London became at least the main centre of the Roman civil administration.

<<< Previous page <<<
Pages: 1 <2>

Pictures for London's Roman Remains page 2

FRAGMENT OF A ROMAN BASTION IN THE TOWER OF LONDON
FRAGMENT OF A ROMAN BASTION IN THE TOWER OF LONDON >>>>
LONDON STONE
LONDON STONE >>>>
ROMAN SCULPTURE FOUND IN THE WALBROOK
ROMAN SCULPTURE FOUND IN THE WALBROOK >>>>
MONUMENT TO A GLADIATOR
MONUMENT TO A GLADIATOR >>>>
WATLING STREET BV ST. PAUL'S
WATLING STREET BV ST. PAUL'S >>>>
REMINDER OF ROME ON TOWER HILL
REMINDER OF ROME ON TOWER HILL >>>>
BATH OF A ROMAN VILLA IN THE STRAND
BATH OF A ROMAN VILLA IN THE STRAND >>>>
VESTIGES OF THE WALL WHICH THE ROMANS BUILT FOR LONDON
VESTIGES OF THE WALL WHICH THE ROMANS BUILT FOR LONDON >>>>
THE BRIDGE AND RAMPARTS OF ROMAN LONDON FROM THE SOUTHWARK BANK-AUGUSTA RECONSTRUCTED FROM THE FINDINGS OF A ROYAL COMMISSION
THE BRIDGE AND RAMPARTS OF ROMAN LONDON FROM THE SOUTHWARK BANK-AUGUSTA RECONSTRUCTED FROM THE FINDINGS OF A ROYAL COMMISSION >>>>
UNIQUE PHOTOGRAPH OF THE DESTRUCTION OF LONDON'S ROMAN WALL
UNIQUE PHOTOGRAPH OF THE DESTRUCTION OF LONDON'S ROMAN WALL >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About