• Most twenty-first century historians think that it was originally a settlement established shortly after the Claudian invasion of Britain, on the current site of the City
    of London around 47–50 AD,[4][5][3] but some defend an older view that the city originated in a defensive enclosure constructed during the Claudian invasion in 43 AD.

  • “[45] The city’s Latin name seems to have derived from an originally Brittonic one and significant pre-Roman finds in the Thames, especially the Battersea Shield (Chelsea
    Bridge, perhaps 4th-century BC) and the Wandsworth Shield (perhaps 1st-century BC), both assumed to be votive offerings deposited a couple of miles upstream of Londinium, suggest the general area was busy and significant.

  • The precise date of this change is unknown, and no surviving source explicitly states that Londinium was “the capital of Britain,” but there are several strong indications
    of this status: 2nd-century roofing tiles have been found marked by the “Procurator” or “Publican of the Province of Britain at Londinium”,[35] the remains of a governor’s palace and tombstones belonging to the governor’s staff have been discovered,
    and the city was well defended and armed, with a new military camp erected at the beginning of the 2nd century in a fort on the north-western edge of the city, despite being far from any frontier.

  • The governor’s palace[76] and old large forum seem to have fallen out of use around 300,[86] but in general the first half of the 4th century appears to have been a prosperous
    time for Britain, for the villa estates surrounding London appear to have flourished during this period.

  • [68] 1st century[edit] A model of London in 85–90 AD on display in the Museum of London, depicting the first bridge over the River Thames, shown as having been of largely
    wooden construction After the sack of the city by Boudica and her defeat, a large military fort covering was built at Plantation Place on Cornhill, with 3m-high banks and enclosed by 3m deep double ditches.

  • The Roman city ultimately covered at least the area of the City of London, whose boundaries are largely defined by its former wall.

  • [51] Following its foundation in the mid-1st century, early Roman London occupied a relatively small area, about 350 acres roughly the area of present-day Hyde Park.

  • The present structure of St Peter upon Cornhill was designed by Christopher Wren following the Great Fire in 1666, but it stands upon the highest point in the area of old
    Londinium and medieval legends tied it to the city’s earliest Christian community.

  • [7] It sat at a key ford at the River Thames which turned the city into a road nexus and major port (which was built between 49 and 52 AD[3]), serving as a major commercial
    centre in Roman Britain until its abandonment during the 5th century.

  • [104][105] The possible existence of the shrine room is supported by 19th-century excavations under Gracechurch Street, immediately adjacent to the church’s eastern end.

  • [83] A model of the expanded forum at the Museum of London Stela mentioning the Londiniensi (‘Londoners’)Reconstruction drawing of Londinium, c. 120 AD During the early 2nd
    century, Londinium was at its height, having recovered from the fire and again had between 45,000 and 60,000 inhabitants around 140, with many more stone houses and public buildings erected.

  • Following the foundation of the town in the mid-1st century, early Londinium occupied the relatively small area of 0.5 sq mi, roughly half the area of the modern City of London
    and equivalent to the size of present-day Hyde Park.

  • Along with Hadrian’s Wall and the road network, the London Wall was one of the largest construction projects carried out in Roman Britain.

  • [101] Another memorial to the return of Londinium to Roman control was the construction of a new set of forum baths around 300.

  • The wall survived another 1,600 years and still roughly defines the City of London’s perimeter.

  • This community must have had some meeting place, and apart from St Peter’s no other location has yet been proposed, either in antiquity or in the modern era.

  • However, the east end of St Peter’s and its high altar, is also positioned above the area where some basilicas of the period had a pagan shrine room (also known as an aedes).

  • During the later decades of the 1st century, Londinium expanded rapidly, becoming Britannia’s largest city, and it was provided with large public buildings such as a forum[9]
    and amphitheatre.

  • [40] History Founding[edit] See also: Roman conquest of Britain Unlike many cities of Roman Britain, Londinium was not placed on the site of a native settlement or oppidum.

  • [40][53] Most of these were constructed near the time of the city’s foundation around 47 AD.

  • The impressive public buildings from around this period may have been initially constructed in preparation for his visit or during the rebuilding that followed the “Hadrianic

  • Suetonius’s flight back to his men, the razing of Verulamium (St Albans), and the battle shortly thereafter at “a place with narrow jaws, backed by a forest”,[29][31] speaks
    against the tradition, and no supporting archaeological evidence has been yet discovered.

  • The end of imperial expansion in Britain after Hadrian’s decision to build his wall may have also damaged the city’s economy.

  • [72] Forums elsewhere typically had a civic temple constructed within the enclosed market area; British sites usually did not, instead placing a smaller shrine for Roman services
    somewhere within the basilica.

  • A round temple has been located west of the city, although its dedication remains unclear.

  • The London Wall survived for another 1,600 years and broadly defined the perimeter of the old City of London.

  • There is a long-standing folklore belief that this battle took place at King’s Cross, simply because as a mediaeval village it was known as Battle Bridge.

  • The London Stone may originally have been part of the palace’s main entrance.

  • [32] It had almost certainly been granted colony (colonia) status prior to the complete replanning of the city’s street plan attending the erection of the great second forum
    around the year 120.

  • Substantial suburbs existed at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Westminster and around the southern end of the Thames bridge in Southwark, where excavations in 1988] and 2021 have
    revealed an elaborate building with fine mosaics and frescoed walls dating from 72 AD.

  • A large building discovered near Cannon Street Station has had its foundation dated to this era and is assumed to have been the governor’s palace.

  • (It was customary elsewhere to name roads after the emperor during whose principate they were completed, but the number and vicinity of routes completed during the time of
    Claudius would seem to have made this impractical in Britain’s case.)

  • Another site dating to this era is the bathhouse (thermae) at Huggin Hill, which remained in use prior to its demolition around the year 200.

  • Archaeologists have uncovered numerous goods imported from across the Roman Empire in this period, suggesting that early Roman London was a highly cosmopolitan community of
    merchants from across the empire and that local markets existed for such objects.

  • [107] If St Peter’s was built in the roman era, it would make the church contemporaneous to the potential Romano-British church at Silchester, similarly built adjacent to
    the Roman Basilica and most likely pre-Constantine in age.

  • [73] By the turn of the century, Londinium was perhaps as large as 60,000 people[74][75] and had replaced Camulodunum (Colchester) as the provincial capital.

  • Wheeler proposed that a Christian church might have been established on its site and that this accounted for the later medieval legends.

  • [81] Fire destroyed substantial areas of the city in the area north of the Thames but does not seem to have damaged many major public buildings.

  • Excavations have discovered evidence of a major fire that destroyed much of the city shortly thereafter, but the city was again rebuilt.

  • [71] Its three-storey basilica was probably visible across the city and was the largest in the empire north of the Alps;[71][86] the marketplace rivalled those in Rome and
    was the largest in the north before Augusta Treverorum (Trier, Germany) became an imperial capital.

  • [77] Port[edit] A diagram of the Roman structures from the port of Londinium (c. AD 100) excavated along the north bank of the Thames, with warehouses at right A large port
    complex on both banks near London Bridge was discovered during the 1980s.

  • [47][48] The remains of a massive pier base for such a bridge were found in 1981 close by the modern London Bridge.

  • [85] The governor’s palace was rebuilt,[76] and an expanded forum was built around the earlier one over a period of 30 years from around 90 to 120 into a square measuring
    168 m × 167 m (551 ft × 548 ft).

  • The wall partially utilised the army’s existing fort, strengthening its outer wall with a second course of stone to match the rest of the course.

  • The city was eventually rebuilt as a planned Roman town, its streets generally adhering to a grid skewed by major roads passing from the bridgehead and by changes in alignment
    produced by crossings over the local streams.

  • Londinium expanded around the point on the River Thames narrow enough for the construction of a Roman bridge but still deep enough to handle the era’s seagoing ships.

  • Londinium is universally supposed to have been the capital of one of them, but it remains unclear where the new provinces were, whether there were initially three or four
    in total, and whether Valentia represented a fifth province or a renaming of an older one.

  • Some time between 190 and 225, the Romans built the London Wall, a defensive ragstone wall around the landward side of the city.

  • The so-called fire is not mentioned in any historical sources but has been inferred by evidence of large-scale burning identified by archaeologists on several excavation sites
    around the City of London.

  • Several major building projects at this time such as roads, a new quay and a water lifting machine indicate the army had a key role in reconstruction.

  • Although Londinium remained important for the rest of the Roman period, no further expansion occurred.

  • Some time between 190 and 225, the Romans built a defensive wall around the landward side of the city.

  • The first forum in Londinium seems to have had a full temple, but placed outside just west of the forum.

  • [46] There was probably a ford in that part of the river; other Roman and Celtic finds suggest this was perhaps where the opposed crossing Julius Caesar describes in 54 BC
    took place.

  • It is possible that the town was preceded by a short-lived Roman military camp, but the evidence is limited and this topic remains a matter of debate.

  • [41] Prior to the arrival of the Roman legions, the area was almost certainly lightly rolling open countryside traversed by numerous streams now underground.

  • Current research suggests it was very rare for early English Christian churches to be founded in pagan temples[110] and that when temples were turned into churches, this occurred
    later, in the late 6th century and onwards.

  • Although Londinium remained important for the rest of the Roman period, no further expansion resulted.

  • Despite the smaller administrative area, the economic stimulus provided by the wall and by Septimius Severus’s campaigns in Caledonia somewhat revived London’s fortunes in
    the early 3rd century.

  • A temple complex with two Romano-British temples was excavated at Empire Square, Long Lane, Southwark in 2002/2003.

  • [111] This was also true elsewhere in the Roman Empire; for example in Rome.

  • [67] An early historical record of London appears in Tacitus’s account of his actions upon arriving and finding the state of the 9th Legion:[29][31] At first, [Paulinus] hesitated
    as to whether to stand and fight there.

  • [80] Only two large warehouses are known, implying that Londinium functioned as a bustling trade centre rather than a supply depot and distribution centre like Ostia near

  • [98] From about 255 onwards, raiding by Saxon pirates led to the construction of a riverside wall as well.

  • Londinium remained well populated, as archaeologists have found that much of the city after this date was covered in dark earth which accumulated relatively undisturbed over

  • It ran roughly along the course of present-day Thames Street, which roughly formed the shoreline.

  • Although the reason for the wall’s construction is unknown, some historians have connected it with the Pictish invasion of the 180s.

  • Two hundred ill-equipped men were sent to defend the provincial capital and Roman colony at Camulodunum, probably from the garrison at Londinium.

  • [96] 3rd century[edit] Ulpius Silvanus’s Tauroctony depicting Mithras killing the bull, discovered in the ruins of the London Mithraeum Septimius Severus defeated Albinus
    in 197 and shortly afterwards divided the province of Britain into Upper and Lower halves, with the former controlled by a new governor in Eboracum (York).

  • The northern wall reached Bishopsgate and Cripplegate near the former site of the Museum of London, a course now marked by the street “London Wall”.

  • [19][22] Location The site guarded the Romans’ bridgehead on the north bank of the Thames and a major road nexus shortly after the invasion.

  • [10] By the 2nd century, Londinium had grown to perhaps 30,000 or 60,000 people, almost certainly replacing Camulodunum (Colchester) as the provincial capital, and by the
    mid-2nd century Londinium was at its height.

  • (The names of all these gates are medieval, as they continued to be occasionally refurbished and replaced until their demolition in the 17th and 18th centuries to permit widening
    the roads.


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Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aidanmorgan/3560426426/’]