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13 Roman Ruins to Visit in England

Remains of Roman Britain can be found everywhere, from walls left in our cities to forts and villas in the countryside.

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 some of our favourite Roman sites from around the country.

1. Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland

Stretching 73 miles from Wallsend in North Tyneside to Bowness-on-Solway, Hadrian’s Wall was built in AD 122. The structure took six years to complete and formed the northern frontier of the Roman Empire.

A photograph of a person in a red coat walking alongside a stone wall.
The scheduled Steel Rigg section of Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland. © Historic England Archive. View image DP371672.

There were 80 small forts, known as milecastles, placed at regular intervals along the wall and 17 larger forts, which housed garrisons of Roman soldiers responsible for defending the Roman Empire from the tribes to the north.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, large sections of Hadrian’s Wall still snake through the Northumberland countryside, and the remains of some of the forts are still visible.

2. Temple of Mithras, Carrawburgh, Northumberland

Hadrian’s Wall is scattered with interesting sites, including the Temple of Mithras at Carrawburgh Roman Fort.

A photograph of the remains of a stone Mithraeum.
The scheduled Temple of Mithras at Carrawburgh, Northumberland. © Historic England Archive. View image DP046943.

The soldiers built the Temple of the god Mithras around AD 200, which was destroyed around AD 350. Mithraism was a Roman religion inspired by a god initially 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. Wroxeter Roman City, Shropshire

Established around AD 55 as a frontier post, Wroxeter Roman City was named ‘Viroconium’ after the local British tribe of the Cornovii was subdued, and their capital was moved from the Wrekin to Wroxeter.

An oblique aerial photograph of the remains of a Roman city.
The scheduled remains of Wroxeter Roman City in Shropshire. © Historic England Archive. View image DP325539.

At its peak, it is thought to have been the fourth-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.

4. London’s Roman Wall

The Romans built the London Wall 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 city’s boundaries.

A black and white photograph of a plaque on a stone wall with a tower block in the background
A plaque marking the Old Roman City Walls, with St Alphage House tower block in the background. © Historic England Archive. View image AA099179.

Parts of the old wall can still be found around the city, from Tower Hill to Blackfriars, and are (where accessible) free to view.

The City Wall at Vine Street is a free, museum-quality display and café. The display’s centrepiece is a substantial segment of London’s Roman Wall, including the foundation of a Roman bastion (tower), alongside a permanent display of artefacts lent and curated by the Museum of London.

A photograph of a large stone wall in a museum.
The City Wall at Vine Street is a museum-quality display and café created by Urbanest. © Urbanest.

5. Chedworth Roman Villa, Gloucestershire

The Chedworth villa site and its spectacular, mainly 4th-century mosaics show that in some areas of Late Roman Britain, wealthy landed inhabitants continued to prosper on their country estates despite increasingly troubled times in much of the province.

A photograph of a Roman mosaic.
A mosaic at the scheduled Chedworth Roman Villa in Gloucestershire. © robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo.

Indeed, a recently discovered mosaic has even been securely dated into the early 5th century, when Roman culture collapsed elsewhere in Britain. This is the only known mosaic of this date in the country.

6. Vindolanda (Chesterholm) forts, Northumberland

This fort for Auxiliary troops had nine construction phases and was occupied from about 85 AD onwards. Later, it was integrated into the defences supporting Hadrian’s Wall (about a mile to the north).

A photograph of Roman ruins.
The scheduled Vindolanda Fort at Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland. © Historic England Archive. PLB/K060352.

Today, much of what can be seen above ground dates to the third century, although there is also a pre-Hadrianic bath house.

The museum on site houses the Vindolanda Writing Tablets. These are letters and notes written on wooden tablets by Roman soldiers, offering remarkable insights into life in the Roman army. There is also evidence of post-roman Christian worship at the site.

7. Camulodunum (Colchester), Essex

Colchester was once the Roman city of Camulodunum, their first colony and capital city in Britain. It’s also England’s oldest recorded town.

The remains of a building near a large Roman cemetery have been interpreted as a church, a funerary banqueting hall, or a Mithraeum (temple of Mithras).

A photograph of the remains of an apsidal Roman building.
The scheduled remains of a Roman building in Colchester, Essex. © Historic England Archive. View image DP261899.

Archaeological excavations have revealed soil containing pottery dating to the 2nd and 3rd centuries. This has been used as evidence for the date the wall could have been built.

8. Brading Roman Villa, Isle of Wight

Brading Roman Villa was discovered in 1879 and dates from the 1st century, although the best-preserved building is the West Range, built around AD 300.

A photograph of a reconstructed Roman villa.
The Grade I listed Roman Villa at Brading on the Isle of Wight. © Brading Roman Villa.

Roman artefacts found at the site tell us a high-status owner owned it.

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.

A photograph of a mosaic of a face with snakes for hair.
A mosaic of Medusa at Brading Roman Villa. © Brading Roman Villa.

9. Verulamium Theatre, St Albans, Hertfordshire

Verulamium was one of the largest Roman cities in Britain, with lots remaining today to explore.

A black and white aerial photograph of a Roman theatre.
The Roman theatre at Verulamium, St Albans, in 1947. © Historic England Archive. EAW011297.

You can visit the remains of the town and city walls in Verulamium Park, the Hypocaust (a central heating system built around 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.

10. Aldborough Roman Town, Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire

Aldborough was the ‘capital’ of the Romanised Brigantes, the largest tribe in Britain at that time.

A photograph of the remains of a Roman interval tower.
The scheduled Aldborough Roman Town in Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire. © Historic England Archive. View image DP169532.

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.

11. Richborough Roman Fort, Kent

Richborough, or Rutupiae, was founded by the Romans after they invaded Britain in AD 43.

Rutupiae was the major British port due to its position near the mouth of the Stour.

An aerial photograph of the remains of a Roman fort.
The scheduled Richborough Roman Fort in Kent. © Historic England Archive. 27573/036.

The most prominent ruin of Roman Richborough is the walls of the 3rd-century fort, which formed part of defences against sea-borne raiders along the coast, known as the ‘Saxon Shore’.

A reconstruction illustration showing an aerial view of a fortified Roman soldiers' barracks.
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.

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.

12. Roman Town House, Dorchester, Dorset

This site is the only example of a fully exposed Roman townhouse in the country. It was built around AD 307, quite late during the Roman occupation.

A photograph of the remains of a stone building with a modern building in the background.
The Grade I listed Roman Town House in Dorchester, Dorset. Contributed to the Missing Pieces Project by Lucy Parry. View List entry 1210098.

The Roman Town House sits on 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 between 1937 and 1938. The Roman Town House Project is currently underway.

13. Hardknott Roman Fort, Cumbria

Built between AD 120 and 138 to protect Harknott Pass, these are the ruins of the Roman fort known as Mediobogdum.

The site includes ruins of a bathhouse, parade ground and tribunal, lengths of four Roman roads, areas of Roman quarrying and three cairns.

A photograph of the remains of a stone fort.
Hardknott Roman Fort, Cumbria. © Contributed to the Missing Pieces Project by P Hampel. View List entry 1009349.

The Fourth Cohort of Dalmatians garrisoned the fort, an infantry unit 500 strong. It was evacuated during the reign of Antoninus Pius (between AD 138 and 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 when you visit Hardknott Roman Fort. The fort has an altitude of 800ft with a beautiful (and strategic) view over the River Esk.

Further reading

20 comments on “13 Roman Ruins to Visit in England

  1. I like visiting Chester (Deva). The walls are a brilliant walk….

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

    • I think youll find this is the Historic English blog not Wales……everyone is so wanting their own bit of the isles so as an englishwaman i want mine too.

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

  4. Dennis Noble

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

  5. What about colchester.? Englands first Roman town.

  6. Trevor Colluney

    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

  7. David Went

    How about adding another nine – there’s plenty more to choose from, especially in the North.

  8. Henry Rothery

    The mosaics at Fishbourne Roman Palace in West Sussex are spectacular too!

  9. John Martin

    Can’t believe that you have Leicester’s Jewry Wall and Roman remains out of your list. Very disappointing.

  10. Ian Watson

    The Roman city walls at Silchester ( Calleva Atrebatum) in Hampshire are intact and most impressive

  11. Saddlebags and Backpacks - a brewer's outdoor adventures

    Caerwent (Venta Silurum) is a must

  12. Moira Birks


  13. Graham Melly

    Portchester Castle near Portsmouth must be on everyone’s list. It is an intact walled castle that has survived throughout history to the present day.

  14. Welwyn Roman Baths under the A1(M) in a vault.

  15. The Roman Bath House at Ravenglass, Cumbria.

  16. We lived in Nottingham back 1999 – 2001 – we miss ALL the sights of Roman Britain – made it to Hadrian’s Wall but missed the turn off to Hardnott by ..that much.. would you believe .. that much – to have been so close and yet miss it was a tragedy – it was not an easy place to get to and if we ever should make it back to Britain it will be a long way to go again.
    Terry T :-)) New Zealand

  17. There’s Roman museum in Canterbury where they exhibit the roman mosaic and roman floor. And what about Bath?

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