Exploring Roman Britain

Roman Britain lasted from the Roman conquest in 43 AD to the withdrawal of the Roman administration in the 5th century AD. During this time, Britain was a province of the Roman Empire, ruled by Roman officials and military forces. Romanisation of Britain brought significant cultural, social, and economic changes to the island, including the adoption of Latin and Roman law. While Roman rule in Britain ended in the 5th century, the legacy of the Roman era can still be seen in many parts of the United Kingdom today.
A reconstruction of a triclinium in the Museum of London.

Villas in Roman Britain

Romano-British Villas have often been compared to English stately homes of the eighteenth-century. Roman country residences, certainly many that were built in the 3rd or 4th centuries, were large, opulent and obviously the homes of wealthy and powerful individuals. Their residences included such features as columns and balustrades and were extravagantly decorated with mosaic floors, wall-paintings and marble statuary. One of the earliest of these palatial villas can be seen just outside of Chichester. Not all the Romano-British villas were this palatial, the vast majority were much smaller homesteads that were more modestly decorated.

Hadrian's Wall

Described as the most important Roman monument constructed in Britain, Hadrian’s Wall stretched from coast to coast along the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire. Hadrian’s Wall is more than just a stone wall, its a large defensive system with a number of elements and a complex history. Today much of the mid-section of the wall is still well preserved and can be followed on foot, by cycle or by car. This guide provides information to the various sites and museums along the route of the wall between Newcastle upon Tyne and Bowness-on-Solway.

Roman London - Londinium

Londinium was a Roman settlement founded in AD 43 on the banks of the Thames River. The Roman settlement corresponds to the modern-day city of London. Initially established as a trading hub, it served as the capital of Roman Britain for over 350 years. Londinium was a prosperous city with a population of up to 60,000 people and was home to a range of different industries, including pottery, glass-making, and metalworking. Today there are a number of sites with vestiges of Roman architecture that can be visited, including remnants of the Roman wall and remains of the Roman amphitheatre and mithraeum.

Roman Ruins & Sites in England

During their occupation of Britain, a period of some 400 years, the Romans did much to change the physical landscape of the country. Besides their famously straight roads and many towns, they built luxury rural villas and military forts. Supply towns along Hadrian’s Wall and defensive forts, the so-called Saxon Shore Forts, along the south east coast of England.  The Antonine Wall in Scotland, and a network of forts and fortlets in Wales. Nearly 2,000 years later theer are numerous and varied Roman ruins scattered throughout the country. Many of which are accessible to the public. These are either manged privately or by national bodies, such as the National Trust or English Heritage. 

Museums with Roman Collections in England

Many museums throughout the United Kingdom have displays an exhibits of Roman artefacts. These range from local, site museums that showcase artefacts found on the site they are associated with, to regional museums that exhibit a more regional perspective of the Roman period. These regional museums are often repositories for artefacts recovered during archaeological excavations of nearby sites. A number of museums also have collections and exhibitions of Roman artefacts from other parts of the Roman Empire.

Roman Sites & Museums in Wales

The Romans first entered Wales in AD 48, but they experienced considerable resistance from the local Celtic communities. The area that is modern Wales was not intensively conquered as was the case for southern and eastern England. By about 75 AD the Romans established a permanent military base in Caerleon, known then as Isca. For the Romans Wales was important for minerals, including lead, silver and gold. By the early 5th century AD, along with the rest of Roman Britain, Rome’s control over Wales came to an end.