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LONDINIUM

The London of today has its origins as the biggest city ancient city on the British islands and the capital of the roman province Britain. The Roman established Londinium 43 AD. Because of the 43 built fortresses on the north side of the Thames, which gave a well defended connection to the sea and to the back country Londinium was also a centre of trade. One could reach from Londinium on the country way other places in Britain also very well.

Already during the Roman invasion in the year 43 the place which later the city was a central starting point for the Roman. Many cities were established. The cities which were built because of military troops became the starting point of the romanisation in Britain. Because of the soldiers also other people, for example tradespeople and salesmen, came in the country.

The big forum in the centre of the city was one of the biggest constructions of its kind. Outside of the town wall was the Necropolis where just a few people live. The town centre was from the start area around the forum as was typical for roman settlements. Most of the expensive houses were situated there, in which most of the mosaics could be found. Many large buildings, remains of important public buildings, storehouses and wharves were found at the bank of the Thames.

The northern parts were not as densely populated and in later periods through the decline of population (in the third and fourth century) the area was used for arable land and gardens. During the later decades of the 1st Century, Londinium expanded rapidly and became Britains largest city. At the beginning of the 2nd century, Londinium had grown to about 60,000 people and almost certainly replaced Camulodunum as the provincial capital.

Londiniums name was changed into Augusta which is a sign for the status of a colonia (planned settlement out of Rome). With a population from all corners of the Empire Londinium was a cultural hot spot. You can see this, for example, in the variable represented religions in temples.


Architecture:

Londinium was build 64 kilometres away from the river mouth of the Thames since the tides there made it attractive as a port and its proximity to the northern sea. The fortress was constructed between two hills (Cornhill and Ludgate) and it was 30 hectares large until they build another complex which led the city grow to a size of 62 hectares. The city spread out further and further and was one of the biggest roman cities with over 300 hectares and a population of more than 15.000 people.

 

 The Roman in Londinium:

Londinium had a big courthouse (Basilica) and a market place which is on the place of the Cornhill nowadays. In the Basilica they also constructed the townhall and the department- and courtroom. They also build a palace for the procurator. The procurator was a high roman administrator who was responsible for the finances of the imperial province. The roman settler built a bridge over the Thames and used the camp to ship minerals or .....[read full text]

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The city wall had many gates and exits out of the city. The roman streets leaded to the main entrance which was 100-meter-wide and flanked from quadratic towers. You can still see the archaeological destruction today.

 

Archaeological excavations:

Because of the many buildings which were built in London archaeological excavations are difficult. But in the whole city of the today’s metropolitan area in London there are Roman findings. After the “Great Fire of London” (1666) many pieces of the city wall were found and documented. The city was an important roman city, so it had all the public buildings but just a part could get identified by excavations.

They found a big forum in the middle of the city which is the biggest building northern the alps in that time and many remains of storehouses at the waterside. It attests that Londinium had very economical position. The construction of the London Coal Exchange led to the discovery of the Roman house at Billingsgate in 1848. General Rivers uncovered a large number of human skulls and almost no other bones in the bed of the Walbrook during excavations in 1860. The extensive rebuilding of London in the 19th century and following the German Blitz in the second World War allowed for large parts of the old London to be recorded and preserved while modern updates were madeIn the near of the Tower of London and the Museum of London are ruins of the city wall which were also used and advanced in the middle age.

The northwest fortress of city occupation was discovered in 1947. During excavations of a church 1954 it turned out that it is the London Mithraeum which was relocated. Under the Guildhall (a building which was a long time the town hall and now has representation rooms for the administration of the city) you can see walls of the amphitheatre. The remains of a massive pier base for Londinium’s bridge were found in 1981 close by the .....

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They also found over 100 remains of mosaic floor with geometrical patterns. The remaining pieces of wall paintings which were found in Southwark (a district of central London) and in a few other parts of the city showed plastic architecture and had many similarities with the plastic architecture in Italian at this time. This type of art had apparently idols in Italy.

 

The buildings:


Storehouses and military camps:

The numerous storehouses which were found at the bank of Tames showed how economical the city was. The famous fish sauce was also found at that place. In the north of the city was a
new military camp erected which was 4,5 hectares large and constructed at the beginning of the second century although it was far away from any frontier. It is not sure which military troop was stationed there but these three legions were positioned there: Legio II Augusta, the Legio XX Valeria Victrix and the Legio VI Victrix.


The Forum and the Praetorium:

In the centre of the town stood the forum. It was the biggest building of its kind northern from the Alps. The forum existed of big free place with a washbasin in the middle which was surrounded from pillars and shops. A building which was located on the east bank of the now-covered River Walbrook near its entrance to the Thames is considered to be the Praetorium (the palace of the vicegerent).

Part of the structure is speculated to be the origin of the London Stone. Because of the remains it could also was a bath. It was a building with a garden, water basin and a fountain. Parts of the plant layout are preserved. Mosaics were found inside which shows that the building was rich equipped. It was built in the first century, had a few reconstructions and outbuildings and was .....

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The London Wall:

The Romans built the London Wall in between the years 190 and 225. It was a ragstone wall (with stones that were quarried in thin pieces) and surrounded the landward side of the city. The construction of it was one of the largest projects in Roman Britain. It was 5km long, 6m high, 2,5 thick and had a moat which was 2m deep and 4m wide. it had 6 gates. The reason for the construction is not sure but historians think that it has something to do with Pictish (people who lived in parts of Scotland earlier) invasion which was in the 180s.

It could also have a connection with a political crisis which was in the 190s. Two men, Septimus Severus and Clodius Albinus, both claimed for the right to become the ruler. The wall could have been built on order by Albinus who wanted to protect his capital because of the struggle for power with his rival. Septimius defeated his rival in the year 197. Ruins of the London Wall are located in the Tower of London.

 

Londinium as a trading center:

Londinium grew to become an important port for trade between Britain and the Roman Provinces on the continent. Many craft jobs for example blacksmith, potter and glazier were found. People from all over the Roman empire (Gaul, Italy, Germany and Spain) came to Londinium for the trade. Items of trade were especially ceramic lamps and potter statues. In the time after the rebellion of Boudica most of the table ware was produced in Londinium.

They produced glassware but also imported it since the 2nd century. Also import merchandise was precious building material, special food like olives, fish sauce from Spain, different fish types, fruits and wine. In Londinium was also produced fish sauce. They exported for example textiles and shell (many oysters were shipped from the London harbour).



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