Londinium (London - England)

Londinium – Roman & Saxon London

Did you know London was once under the Roman Empire? It was then called the Londinium, created in 43 CE, from which the present name London was derived. After the Romans, the Saxons took over this region. Still, there are traces of Londinium all over London. Several of the excavated articles are in display in the Museum of London. Here are a couple of sites that can still be enjoyed! These are some unique ‘places to see’ in London which many Londoners themselves don’t know of!!!
1. London Wall - Bang opposite to the Tower of London, just outside the TowerHill Metro Station is the London Wall. When I visited the Tower of London, I did not know of this and I had missed this. Later on reading on reading about the various places preserved by English Heritage, I came to know of this! 
This was built around 200CE as a city wall. When it served its purpose, there was a moat on its outer face. This would have been originally 6.4m tall surrounding the whole of London. This was used till medieval periods and after 17th C this fell into disuse. Today, this is one of the few surviving bits!
2. Roman Amphitheatre - Romans were known for their impressive amphitheaters. What better proof that Colosseum? One more example is ofcourse the Caerleon! So, Londinium being a Roman settlement, obviously would have had its own amphitheater too! However for long, the historians and archaeologists did not know where it was! 
It was only by chance that in the year 1988 CE, an excavation to expand for the Guild Hall Art Gallery revealed the existence of an ancient wall and a further careful excavation undertaken by the Museum of London, revealed the entire amphitheater. 

By about 70 CE, this was originally built as wooden structure. Later by about 200 CE, the stone structure was made. By early 4th C CE this was completely abandoned. I came to know of this when I was in Museum of London and went over the Guild Hall to check it out for myself. Today the access to this place is through the Art Gallery of Guild Hall!
Today the foundation and fragments of the wall are everywhere in this place. There are also some timber drains as well, preserved to see through a glass panel on the floor. There are some light installations that give a feel of how the amphitheater would have been ages ago! 

3. All Hallow’s by the Tower Church - Just next to the Tower of London is the All Hallows Church, the oldest church in London built in 675 CE. Located almost opposite a few yards from the London Wall, this too was a part of the original Roman settlement! When the church was built, the wall had already been abandoned for atleast 2 centuries. The material from the wall has been used in the construction of this church. 

There is an arch here, which is the oldest surviving architecture belonging to Saxon period. The arch atop is made of the tiles which belong to Roman Era (the Saxons were good in recycling)! The crypt of this church still has several Roman articles of 2nd C CE discovered during excavation in this site, including its tessellated flooring!!! 

The crypt also has the old baptismal register and marriage register belonging to 1600s – 1800s, as well as some sculptures & pillars belonging to the original Saxon church of 900s. There are also several underground chapels. 

Here at the entrance of St.Clare’s chapel is a piece of melted lead, resulted by the intense heat on the ceiling caused by WWII bombing. The most peaceful place in the whole church is perhaps the St.Clare’s Chapel. It is underground, tiny and was originally a burial vault of the 17th C CE!

The main altar, quite unusually, today, doesn’t even have a cross in it! There is a huge table which is a replica of the original Jacobean table that got destroyed during the World War. There is a mural on the wall behind (which is why there is no cross in order to not hide the mural)! This was painted by Brian Thomas in 1957. As usual bang opposite to the altar is the huge organ. 

To Get There:
London Wall: Just outside Tower Hill Metro Station & opp to Tower of London
Amphitheatre: Nearest metro - Bank & Moorgate
All Hallows Church: Just next to Tower of London 

Timings & Entry Fee:
London Wall: Open all the time!
Amphitheatre: Mon-Sat: 10 AM - 5 PM; Sun: 10 AM - 4 PM
All Hallows Church: Mon-Fri: 8 AM - 5 PM; Sat-Sun: 10 AM - 5 PM
Free entry at all places

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

22 comments:

  1. Although I was aware of the history of London once being part of the Roman Empire, I never realized there were still remains you could see today. Like you, I went to see the Tower of London and had no idea the wall was so close. And London had a Colosseum? Wow - definitely news to me. The next time I'm in the UK I will definitely go and check out the sites you have mentioned here. Such an interesting post!

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  2. Thanks for this information. I didn't realise the amphitheatre was there!

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  3. I've been past this area many times, but never seen this. We have so much history in London, that it's easy to walk by and forget about the Roman past. The churches are stunning, and so interesting to know about the heat coming from WII bombing. Thanks for this!

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  4. People tend to brush aside London as a cliched destination but I think it has so much promise for history and architecture lovers. Would love to go and explore hidden parts of the city and surroundings. We went so many years ago.

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  5. London is vast and the history even more. We did visit the London tower but looks like we missed the London Wall. History is always fascinating and intriguing. Marriage register belonging to 1600s – 1800s in the church sounds interesting would love to explore the next time we visit.

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  6. Londininium, it is! Never knew this part of London existed. And it's so interesting to read that one can find this much in modern time. I'd love to visit the underground, prolly, I'd listen to my heartbeat in St Claire's chapel. There is so much history here. It must have been an interesting discovery for you.

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  7. I love historical find like these! I had no idea this was even still in London, I thought most sites from Roman era were obliterated. i found some spots like this in Paris too, an ampitheatre. really cool info in this post.

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  8. You are really a deep digger in history, as you came out with a fact which not many people know. I was not knowing that London was a part of Roman Empire. Good to know about London and its ancient Roman connections. Why was wall abandoned for 2 centuries, any specific logic behind this?

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  9. This is crazy. Never knew about any of this. You did a great job at showing an alternative side to London’s history. The coliseum looks so cool.

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  10. So glad you have focused on a completely different side of London. Most people go for the main touristy sites or shopping but forget that the city also has a lot of history attached to it. I've been to London a few times now and while I knew about "Londinium" I never explored it in as much detail. Something new for the next trip I guess. Thanks

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  11. It's always fun when people who are not from London come through and share their thoughts about it. As a "local" I tend to not explore the city much, but as you have pointed out - there are a few spots that are not so well known. Cool.

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  12. Now, this will sound crazy. As a travel blogger, I have blogs on Roman history in Germany, France, Tunisia etc on our website but never really bothered to read up the history of the Romans in my home country and my home city of London! I didn't even know there was a theatre here! Now I am planning to visit it on my way home at some point this week! Thank you for sharing this. I learnt something new today :)

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  13. I didn't know there's so much more to see in London than the modern architectures. What a unique way to explore the city. I'd love to see some of these sites next time I visit!

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  14. I learnt something today by your post. People always write about the same things in London this was something completley different, i really enjoy this!

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  15. Nice little article here! It's actually funny but it never occured to me to embed a virtual maps of sorts so that readers could explore on their own terms. That aside, thanks for the information!

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  16. Of course I know that London was once part of the Roman Empire! Come on, every kid reading Asterix comics knows this ;) ! It feels like it has been ages since I’ve been to London… I'm not sure if I have visited the Roman Amphitheatre back then though...reading your article really makes me want to revisit the city :)

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  17. Glad to know so much history related to the London! I loved the way how you have shown a different perspective of exploring attractions out there! I've never heard of the London wall before! I'd love to visit there whenever I'll visit London!

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  18. wow I live in London for 3 years now and I haven't knew about any of this! I definitely need to have a "tourist " day soon and see all of that :) I love seeing and listening about history so its gonna be perfect :)

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  19. I didnt know at all about the Roman history of London. I've Berber read about the Roman sites in London either. There are actually some Roman roads that still exist in my small town in the north of England!

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  20. Finding these heritage sites must have taken you a lot. People hardly write about these things and I'm glad I read about the history of England again. The last time I read about the beginnings of England, it was without pictures. But here you have pictures to bring to life the history. The Romans sure had a strong influence on England.

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  21. Never knew about this that London was under Roman Empire. I would surely love to check out all the remaining bits there which shows the proof especially the Amphitheater.

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  22. I've been to London so many times but didn't know much of this. Next time I go I'll be taking some of these with me!

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