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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
9. 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 (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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.