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Visiting UK - Roman Britain

Updated on October 2, 2012

Roman Britain - places to see

If you are considering a visit to the UK one of the most interesting things to do is to visit the Roman remains - remnants of the Roman era can be found all over the UK, from Fishbourne Palace on the south coast all the way up to Scotland and the Antonine Wall. Other highlights include:

  • The Roman Baths in Bath, Somerset
  • Hadrian's Wall
  • Colchester - Roman Walls and museum
  • Roman section of The British Museum, London

I've always had an interest in Roman Britain, as I was born in Camolodunum (Colchester) which was one of the most important towns in Roman Britain. Any time there is digging or excavation in the town centre there is likely to be Roman archaelogy, as below the modern streets are the remains of the town destroyed by Boudicca (or Boadicea) around AD 60. In some basements in the town you can still see a layer of burnt earth from when the town was razed to the ground. Around several areas of the town the Roman walls remain intact, though they sometimes appear on the edge of car parks!

The town's new Firstsite centre has a section of mosaic flooring you can see for free while you enjoy a coffee on the balcony. Around the Hole in the Wall pub is the remains of a Roman gate and a long section of the Roman wall. The Norman Castle is built on top of, and largely from, the Temple of Claudius, destroyed in the uprising.

Roman Expo

One of the ways in which the Romans sought to dominate the world was through the export of their architectural skills. Fishbourne Palace, near Chichester on the south coast of the UK, was a Roman expo show house built for a local tribal chieftain. All that remains today is the floor level, but that includes some of the most impressive mosaic floors to be found in the UK. The mosaics and the rest of the building work was done by skilled craftsmen brought in from elsewhere in the Roman Empire.

There is a reconstructed formal Roman garden, described as Britain's first garden, which seems plausible. The small museum includes many finds from the site - it's interesting and educational, and could be very good as an introduction to Roman history for children.

The palace is approached through an unlikely route, down through a housing estate! Admission is £7.90 for an adult, and it's best to arrive early, as although it's open until 5pm they are very keen to lock the front doors at 4.30.

One of the pictures depicts an underfloor heating system. Although the climate was warmer than it is today, it obviously wasn't that warm!

Recently I discovered a very interesting webpage (by Stanford?) that looked at the Roman transport system - and a trip from Rome to Britannia would take about 30 days. It was even costed out. Using this article you could see the cost and time involved travelling anywhere within the Roman Empire.

Fishbourne Palace mosaics

Fishbourne mosaic floors


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