Remains of Roman Britain can be found everywhere, from walls left in our cities to forts and villas in the countryside.
Why not explore your local area and stumble upon a historical site you haven’t visited? Here are nine of our favourite Roman sites from around the country.
1. Wroxeter Roman City, Shrewsbury, Shropshire
Established around AD 55 as a frontier post, Wroxeter Roman City was given its Roman name ‘Viroconium’ after the local British tribe of the Cornovii was subdued, and their capital was moved from the Wrekin to Wroxeter.
At its peak, it is thought to have been the 4th largest settlement in Roman Britain, with a population of more than 15,000. It became one of the first archaeological sites in Britain to become a tourist attraction open to the public.
2. Temple of Mithras, Carrawburgh, Northumberland
Hadrian’s Wall is scattered with interesting sites, including this Temple of Mithras in Carrawburgh Roman fort.
The soldiers built the Temple to the god Mithras, around AD 200 and it was destroyed around AD 350. Mithraism was a Roman religion inspired by a god originally worshipped in the eastern Empire.
Three altars found were dedicated by commanding officers of the unit stationed here, the First Cohort of Batavians from the Rhineland. The Temple is free to visit.
3. Brading Roman Villa, Isle of Wight
Brading Roman Villa was discovered in 1879 and dates from the mid-1st century, although the best preserved building is the West Range built around AD 300.
Roman artefacts found at the site tell us it was owned by a high status owner.
Don’t miss the breathtaking mosaics displaying a variety of subjects, conveying the owners’ wealth and education. The largest mosaic features the mythical Medusa, often used in art to ward off evil and protect the home.
4. Verulamium Theatre, St Albans, Hertfordshire
Verulamium was one of the largest Roman cities in Britain, with lots remaining today to explore.
You can visit the remains of the town and city walls in Verulamium Park, the Hypocaust (central heating system, built in about AD 200), and a theatre – which claims to be a unique example in England, being a theatre with a stage, rather than a tradition Roman amphitheatre.
Built in about AD 140, the theatre initially would have been used for anything from religious processions to wild beast shows. By about AD 300, after some redevelopment work, it could seat 2000 spectators. Don’t miss the museum, filled with treasures and mosaics.
5. Aldborough Roman Town, Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire
Aldborough was the ‘capital’ of the Romanised Brigantes, the largest tribe in Britain at that time.
After the Romans subdued the Brigantes tribe, the fort there was replaced with a town known as Isurium Brigantum,
Today you can see a town wall with its defensive towers and two mosaic pavements, once part of a Roman townhouse. The museum contains a range of pottery and other items, giving an insight into Roman life.
6. London Wall, City of London
The London Wall was built by the Romans to protect what was then called Londinium, their strategically important port on the River Thames.
Built around AD 200, the wall was around 2.5 miles long and marked the boundaries of the city.
Parts of the old wall can still be found around the city – from Tower Hill to Blackfriars – and are (where accessible) free to view.
7. Richborough Roman Fort, Kent
Richborough – or Rutupiae – was founded by the Romans after their invasion of Britain in AD 43.
Rutupiae was the major British port due to its position near the mouth of the Stour.
The most prominent ruin of Roman Richborough is the walls of the late- 3rd century fort, which formed part of defences against sea-borne raiders along the coast, known as the ‘Saxon Shore’. The site sits on what was once a small island or peninsula, which separated the Isle of Thanet from the mainland of Kent. Read more about our excavations of the site.
8. Roman Town House, Dorchester, Dorset
This site is the only example of a fully exposed Roman town house in the country. It was built in around AD 307, quite late during the Roman occupation.
The Roman Town House sits in the grounds of County Hall in Dorchester, in what used to be the Roman town known as Durnovaria. It was discovered by Drew and Collingwood Selby and excavated in 1937-8. The Roman Town House Project is currently underway.
9. Hardknott Roman Fort, Cumbria
Built between AD 120 – 138 to protect Harknott pass, these are the ruins of the Roman fort known as Mediobogdum.
The site includes ruins of a bath-house, parade ground and tribunal, lengths of four Roman roads, areas of Roman quarrying and three cairns.
The fort was garrisoned by the Fourth Cohort of Dalmatians, an infantry unit 500 strong. It was evacuated during the reign of Antoninus Pius (AD 138 – 61) but re-occupied at some time during the mid-2nd century, before being finally abandoned by the end of the 2nd century.
Don’t miss the impressive views – the fort has an altitude of 800ft with a beautiful (and strategic) view over the River Esk.
What have we missed? Let us know your favourite Ancient Roman sites in the comments below.