9 Ancient Roman Ruins You Need to Visit

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 historic site you haven’t visited before.

Please follow the latest government’s guidelines on social distancing and make sure you check the sites’ websites to find out their latest updates #HeritageIsOpen

Here are nine of our favourite Roman sites from around the country.

1. Wroxeter Roman City, Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Wroxeter Roman City
Wroxeter Roman City © Historic England Archive DP140288

Established around 55 AD as a frontier post, Wroxeter Roman City was given its Roman name ‘Viroconium’ after the local British tribe of the Cornovii were 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.

Book tickets for your visit.

2. Temple of Mithras, Carrawburgh, Northumberland

Temple of Mithras
Temple of Mithras © Historic England Archive DP046943

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

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 300 AD. 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.

You can book tickets for your visit online.

Medusa mosaic
Medusa mosaic © Brading Roman Villa

4. Verulamium Theatre, St Albans, Hertfordshire

Roman theatre at Verulamium
Roman theatre at Verulamium, St Albans.
30 September 1947, Aerofilms Collection
© Historic England Archive EAW011297

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 around 200 AD), 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 140 AD, the theatre initially would have been used for anything from religious processions to wild beast shows. By about 300 AD, 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 Roman Town
Aldborough Roman Town © Historic England Archive DP169532

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.

Make sure you book your visit.

6. London Wall, City of London

A plaque marking the Old Roman City Walls
A plaque marking the Old Roman City Walls, with St Alphage House tower block in the background. Photograph taken by John Gay, 1962 – 1964 © Historic England Archive AA099179

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 200 AD, 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

Reconstruction illustration showing an aerial view of the fortified soldiers' barracks at the Roman town of Richborough
A reconstruction of the Richborough triumphal arch as it may have looked from the waterfront in about AD 120. Unusually, it was a ‘quadrifons’ arch, with an arch on each of its four sides, and would have been one of the largest in the Roman Empire© Historic England (illustration by Peter Lorimer)

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.

Make sure you book a ticket before visiting.

Read more about our excavations of the site.

Richborough Roman Fort
Richborough Roman Fort © Historic England Archive 27573_036

8. Roman Town House, Dorchester, Dorset

Roman town house
Photograph taken by Lucy Parry, Enrich the list contribution

This site is the only example of a fully exposed Roman town house in the country. It was built in around 307 AD, 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 under way and the site aims to reopen by the end of September 2020.

9. Hardknott Roman Fort, Cumbria

Hardknott Roman fort
Photograph taken by P Hampel, Enrich the list contribution

Built between 120 – 138 AD 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.

Historic sites are reopening with special measures – including museums, galleries, libraries, places of worship and community centres. Visit Heritage Is Open or follow #HeritageIsOpen on Twitter to find out more.

Please follow the latest government’s guidelines on social distancing and make sure you check the sites’ websites to find out their latest updates.

What have we missed? Let us know your favourite Ancient Roman sites in the comments below.

Further Reading

6 responses to 9 Ancient Roman Ruins You Need to Visit

  1. Susan says:

    Hi, wonderful article. what about the Roman ruins near Whitebrook, Monmouthshire, Wales?

  2. Alice says:

    Hadrian’s Wall,
    Vindolanda,
    Corbridge Roman Town,
    Habitancvm Roman fort and Robin of Risingham,
    Petty Knowes Roman cemetery and Bremenivm Roman fort,
    Chew Green Roman forts and camps

  3. Dennis Noble says:

    Caerleon Roman Remains near Newport South Wales are the best I have visited, with the Fortress,Baths and Ampitheatre

  4. Joy Bevan says:

    What about colchester.? Englands first Roman town.

  5. Trevor Colluney says:

    Fascination abounds – I worked in the golden age of schools in the 70’s when history teachers could model their own curriculum. Primary schools do this well – Key Stage 3 have become much more inhibited – having to cover so much in less time.
    Thank you I need to get these sites on my very big to do list

Leave a Reply to Alice Cancel reply