Skip to main content

Londinium - Lundenwic/Lundenburh - Londres - London. The transition from Roman Provincial capital to Anglo-Saxon trading town/fort to Norman French capital to world city is a long and colourful one. The 'bones' of the Roman settlement are still there, but you have to dig hard (or look where someone else has already dug) to find them.

English Heritage is an official body which is tasked with looking after historic buildings and other structures - its other title is the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England - and it has many Roman sites under its protection. For example, it manages the Birdoswald Fort and Chester's Bridge Abutment on Hadrian's Wall and the Reculver Roman Fort on what was known as 'the Saxon Shore'.

Here we can see one of English Heritage's best known pieces of London's Roman heritage! Called simply London Wall, it lies immediately north of the Tower of London, near the Tower Hill Underground Station; as a matter of fact, the easiest way to reach this section of wall is to take the 'tube' to Tower Hill, and the Wall, a statue to the Emperor Trajan and a reproduction of the tombstone of Gaius Julius Alpinus Classicianus, the Procurator (finance minister) of the Province of Britannia from AD 61 to his death in AD 65, is right next to the exit from the station.

It is hardly surprising the wall is so close to the Tower as its Norman builders incorporated parts of the existing Roman wall into their 'new' structure. The wall was constructed in around AD 200, from Kentish ragstone rubble, bound with hard mortar and bonded with layers of red Roman tiles every five or six courses, to increase the strength of the wall, and to keep the wall level as it was built. This 'red banded' appearance is typical of Roman structures. The wall was finished off using roughly squared blocks of more Kentish ragstone; it is estimated that it would have taken 85,000 tonnes of stone to build the wall, and the project would have caused a boost to the local economy - rather like a WPA project! Who built it? It is highly likely that the engineers attached to every Roman Legion - they built everything from forts to bridges to roads - would have handled the job. The original structure was around 20 feet high, and was designed to surround the city of Londinium, an area of approximately 330 acres - a distance of close to 3 miles. In front of the wall was a fossa or ditch, 6 feet deep and 20 feet wide to increase the effectiveness of the fortification.

It is thought that the Pictish invasion of the north of the province of Britannia, in around AD 200/220, would have stimulated the thickening of Londinium's defences. It was, after all, the largest building project, after Hadrian's Wall, in the whole of the Province.

The Roman Legions were finally withdrawn in AD 410, and the city virtually abandoned. It wasn't until Mediaeval times that the wall was strengthened and increased in height. If you look closely at the photograph, you can see the top portion is different to the original work, lower down. For hundreds of years the wall defined the limits of the city, and buildings became more and more tightly-packed. The structure began to be 'mined' for its stone for other buildings, and, eventually, the city burst at the seams. Building took place around and on both sides of the old wall, and it was quickly obscured and gradually demolished, the greatest destruction coming in the 18th and 19th centuries (for example, a fine Roman tower near this section of wall was not destroyed until 1852!)

Fortunately, a few good examples of this most impressive Roman structure - including some later Roman bastions from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD - have been saved, thanks to English Heritage. Enough to remind all visitors that this was once a proud Roman city.

http://peoplesmosquito.org.uk

http://shortfinals.wordpress.com

Originally posted to shortfinals on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 06:52 PM PDT.

Also republished by History for Kossacks and Community Spotlight.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site