Exploring Londinium

Our 5k Roman Rampage is just around the corner. To get you in the mood, and maybe even give you a little head start, we've been digging around Roman London.

 

The Romans occupied London, known then as Londinium, for around 400 years from 43AD until the 5th century. At first glance the city doesn't seem to have retained many of its Roman features -we certainly aren't surrounded by the grand scale ruins of somewhere like Rome.

 

This is because, due to 2000 years of fires, bombs and building, the remains of Londinium are lying around 23 feet under the current ground level. This doesn't mean there aren't plenty of historical gems to be unearthed, you just need to know where to look...

 

1. Cleary Garden

 

 

 

Created using remnants of buildings bombed in WW2, this idyllic shelter in the  heart of the city actually boasts an even greater historic significance.

 

It is built on the site of a Roman bathhouse, which at the time of its building in the 2nd century would have been positioned on the banks of the Thames. Although the bathhouse is not visible today, the feeling of this place of Roman repose and relaxation is alluded to in the design of the garden.

 

2. The Temple of Mithras

 

 

During some building work in 1954, the remains of a Mithraic temple were discovered. The temple was built towards the end of the 2nd century to honour the Persian god Mithras - god of sun, justice and contract. The remains, discovered at the junction of Cannon Street and Walbrook have been carefully preserved and returned to its original site, now owned by Bloomberg.

 

3. Tower Hill City Wall & Coopers Row
 

 

When the Romans first arrived, they built two structures in Londinium: London Bridge and a 2-mile long protective wall to protect their settlement.

 

Although most of the ancient city wall is buried deep below ground level today, this section stands imposingly at almost 11 metres tall. Known as the sentry walk, guards would patrol up and down the wall, keeping look out for enemies approaching the city.

 

4. The Roman Amphitheatre 

 

 

 

 

As an important stronghold of the Roman Empire, it was expected that Londinium would have had a grand amphitheatre for public entertainment and executions - which were essentially the same thing in Roman times! But they couldn't find it! It wasn't until 1988, during construction of the Guildhall art gallery, that its location was discovered. The exact location is now marked out in the Guidlhall's courtyard, and the carefully preserved remains of one of the entrances are on display below the art gallery - for free and well worth a visit!

Better not give the game away with too many more clues...

 

See you on the 27th April for the Roman Rampage! The Roman Rampage is a 5k team challenge where you'll be transported back to Londinium and have a crime to solve. Out on the streets you'll race against the clock and other teams to find clues, interview witnesses and interrogate suspects and get to the bottom of it. Drinks and winners announced in a secret pub, revealed in the run up to the event.

 

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