Londinium or London as we know it now, sits upon sand, gravel and clay. As far back as Roman’s times, man has built upon this land.
Londinium; a Roman settlement established around 50AD, following the invasion of Britain in 43AD, led by the Roman Emperor Claudius and Roman troop commander; Plautius.
This Roman settlement was established upon marshy lands at a point where the existing river was narrow enough for the construction of a bridge, yet deep enough to handle sea-going marine vessels.
The first bridge built to straddle across the river, was constructed by Plautius, and archaeological excavations in 1981, discovered a Roman pier base, as used in bridge construction very close to the current London Bridge. From there, a network of Roman roads were created, for easy movement of Roman soldiers.
Londinium, the new trading centre for goods being brought up river, was located on the north side.
Boudicca Queen of the Iceni; had not accepted the rule of these Roman invaders of her homeland, and so it was in 60AD, she and her army levelled and burned this settlement, killing thousands… no one was left alive.
The former settlement was rebuilt, becoming a city in its own right, consisting of timber framed buildings around Roman civic buildings. As the city grew; Palaces, Basilica, Temple’s and Bathhouses rose from the ashes, so its importance did also, reflecting itself as a major trading centre, by the mid second century.
They enhanced their city, their capital by constructing a defensive wall built from Kentish Ragstone around part of the city, located on the landward side. It was a little less than two miles in length, some twenty feet high and eight feet thick, designed to ward off potential attacks. This wall survived some 1600 years. Along with six gates; Newgate, Aldersgate, Bishopsgate, Aldgate, Cripplegate and Ludgate.
Saxon pirates attacked Londinium on a number of occasions, which led to an additional wall being constructed along the river side of the city in 255AD.
Second century Londinium possessed a Basilica, Temple, Bathhouses, Governor’s Palace and Garrison. This city grew, this Roman city under rule from the Roman Empire, reached some 45,000 inhabitants.
The Temple of Mithras, to the Persian God of light and the sun can be found at Walbrook. Built in the mid second century. Mithraism rose to prominence during the third century, emphasizing courage, integrity and moral behaviour, with a focus on saviour, sacrifice and rebirth. Mithraism was highly popular with Roman soldiers, and threatened early forms of Christianity.
Other remanants of Roman buildings still remain in the city; the crypt at St.Brides Church, reveals a Roman decorated floor.
Beneath the Guildhall, remains of a Amphitheatre, where gladiators would fight, with animals or each other, often to the death.
With the invasion of Roman’s upon the lands of Britain, their architecture was not changed to match the styles of Britain, but they introduced their own styles of builds, creating a home from home feel.
They would build Roman Villa’s (the latin translation of Villa means farm). Most were built close to major centres like Londinium.
Interestingly, early buildings were built of wood, upon wood or stone foundations and in the second century they were built of stone. Many of the early structures were rebuilt in stone during the second century.
A single story in height upon a stone foundation, and capped with slate or clay roof tiles. With mosaic or marbled floors, under floor central heating, piped through stone channels and painted walls.