Home > London History > Roman London

Roman London

About Roman London

Earliest recorded history of London dates back to the Roman era. Archaeological research suggests that Roman London, referred to as Londinium, was established as a town by the Romans after the invasion of AD 43 led by the Roman Emperor Claudius. Founded as a civilian settlement or civitas by AD 50, it became the capital of Roman Britain and served as a major imperial commercial centre until its abandonment during the 5th century. Ptolemy, the famous mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer and poet has referred to Londinium in his works as one of the important cities of the Cantiaci the Belgic people living in Britain before the Roman conquest.

Roman London Timeline

Archaeologists believe that early Roman London occupied a relatively small area, roughly equivalent in size to Hyde Park. Starting as a small fort guarding the northern end of the new bridge across the River Thames, it quickly grew to become an important port for trade between Britannia and the Roman provinces on the continent.

Archeologists have uncovered numerous goods imported from across the Roman Empire in this period. This suggests that early Roman London was a highly cosmopolitan community of merchants from across the Empire and also implies the presence of a local market for such objects.

Londinium reached its heights during the second century. A number of impressive public buildings were constructed to welcome Emperor Hadrian who visited the city in A.D. 122. Findings also point at a major fire which destroyed the city soon after. At some point in time between 190 and 225, the Romans built the London Wall, a defensive wall around the landward side of the city. Along with Hadrian's Wall and the road network, the London Wall was one of the largest construction projects carried out in Roman Britain.

The decline of Londinium, or the Roman London, began in the 5th century. Large numbers of barbarians penetrated Gaul and Spain between 407 and 409 and weakened communication between Rome and Britain. British troops started electing their own leaders and Constantine III, the last of these, declared himself to be the emperor of the Western Roman Empire. In 410, the Romano-British authorities went against Constantine and appealed to Emperor Honorius for help. He, however, told them that the Britons would have to look after their own defenses. This officially ended the Roman occupation of Britain officially came to an end.

Top 10 London Directory