THE BRITISH MUSEUM
Great Russell Street, London, WC18 3DG.
UPPER LEVEL, ROOM 41. SUTTON HOO & EUROPE AD 300/1100
The centuries AD 33-1100 witnessed great change in Europe. the Roman Empire broke down in the West, but continued as the Byzantine Empire in the East. People, objects and ideas travelled across the continent, while Christianity and Islam emerged as major religions. By 1100, the precursors of several modern states had developed. Europe as we know today was taking shape. Room 41 gives an overview of the period and its peoples. its unparalled collections range from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea, and from North Africa to Scandinavia. The gallery`s centre piece is the Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk. one of the most spectacular and important discoveries in British archaeology.
Daily 10.00 – 1730hrs
Most galleries opened until 20.30hrs Fridays, except Good Friday.
Closed 24, 25, & 26th December, 1st January.
Be aware that some galleries maybe closed for maintenance or long-term refurbishment.
Admission is free, but, exhibitions have a charge.
The Museum has catered for the disabled.
tel +44(0)20 7323 8299 for any enquiries of this nature.
There is a restaurant and cafes within the museum.
There are several shops in the Museum.
There are several shops with the museum, each selling items of different themes.
Holburn 500m. Central & Piccadilly lines.
Tottenham Court Road 500m. Central & Northern lines.
Russell Square 800m. Piccadilly line.
Goodge Street 800m. Northern line.
1. 7. 8. 19. 25. 38. 55. 98 242. Stop on New Oxford Street.
10. 14. 24. 73. 134. 390. Stop northbound on Tottenham Court Road.
Southbound on Gower Street.
59. 68. X68. 91. 169. 188. Stop on Southampton Row.
There are bike racks inside the Museum gates on Great Russell Street.
Santander Cycle hire
The nearest docking station is just outside the museum gates on the corner of Great Russell Street and Montague Place.
Remember the Museum is in the Congestion Charge Zone, which operates between 07.00 – 18.00hrs Mon – Fri £11.50p per day.
Parking there is little on-street parking. The nearest car park to the Museum is located at Bloomsbury Square, WC1A – 2RJ.
Disabled parking – There is limited parking in the Museum`s forecourt for visitors.
Tel +44(0)20 7232 8299 at least 24hrs before your visit, you will be asked for the registration number, make and model of your vehicle and the date of your visit.
MUSEUM OF LONDON
150, London Wall, London, EC2Y-5HN
web-site www.museum of London
Here there are Anglo-Saxon/Englisc artifacts and history.
10.00 – 18.00hrs daily
Closed 24 – 26th December.
RESTUARANT AND CAFE
These are both within the museum.
A well stocked shop within the museum.
There is a car-park below the museum, do not forget the Congestion Charge.
Liverpool Street & Thameslink Farringdon Station.
Nos 4, 8, 25, 56, 100, 172, 242, 521.
there is a Santander cycle docking rack nearby.
ANGLO-SAXON/ENGLISC HISTORY OF LONDON
Roman London 67 B.C. – 410 A.D.
Two thousand years ago London was really British. In the year 67 B.C., few if any foreigners lived in it. Whatever faults it may be said to have possessed, it was decidedly British.
A pleasant little town. There was not much more than three hundred acres/121ha of it. Directly north of the Thames all that was London stretched between two slopes that might almost have been called hills. The river Fleet coursed down one and the Walbrook down the other side of these hills, both eventually joining the Thames. They still do so after two thousand years, but is has to be underground.
The Fleet and the Walbrook have long since emulated the Styx of ancient times. Perhaps they, too, eventually find their way to the abode of the terrible god Pluto? If they do, it is noteworthy that they discharge a timely office on the way, for both serve to keep the foundations of St. Paul’s Cathedral in a moist and therefore satisfactory condition. It will be a sorry day for Wren’s masterpiece that witnesses the diversion or the dry-up of either of them.
At the time this story begins both rivers were full of trout. it may have been a trifle marshy on the banks, but there is reason to believe that the general statements about pre-Roman London (so far as its bogs are concerned) have been some what exaggerated. It is more likely that the subsoil was chiefly sand and gravel resting on the firm blue London Clay. There is geological evidence of this.
The little town occupied a splendid position. Nobody could have been credited with enough foresight to point to it and prophesy that one day it would be the metropolis of the western world (1930s), but it must have appealed to Britons as having considerable natural advantages.
Actually it took very little sailing-time to reach the fine estuary that faced the Continent – that faced the whole wide world. it seemed to those simple souls that all the world lay somewhere outside the great estuary of the Thames. The land lying directly about the estuary was probably higher than now. How much higher is a matter for conjecture, but geological evidence points to considerable subsidence during the centuries.
The tides may not have come up very far. Chelsea Reach, for example, was probably not affected by tidal changes. The river at that point was quieter altogether.
Fish abounded in it. For that matter, fishing was profitably indulged in up to the time of the Stuarts. Fishing craft, as well as humble little huts on the river-side, must have presented a picturesque appearance with woods and patches of furze dotted here and there in irregular profusion.
The Walbrook, or Waelbroc, rose in Shoreditch and emptied itself into the Thames at Dowgate, slightly west of where Cannon Street station now stands. Its course was not much more than a couple of miles/kms but it brought a fair amount of water, particularly as tributaries from Moorgate flowed into it somewhere south of Finsbury Circus. Another rivulet crossed the site of Coleman Street. Still another flowed between Cornhill and Gracechurch Street, bisecting the actual line of King William Street. such names as these were not then known; they are given here as a guide to the mental eye.
The Tyburn must have flowed even in those days. It rose in Hampstead. After coursing over Belsize Lane, slightly west of where King Henry’s Road now is, it crossed Avenue Road to Acacia Road. It then flowed along Upper Baker Street and continued somewhat irregularly until it crossed Oxford Street. It then proceeded down South Molton Street, over Piccadily, across Green Park and so to the Thames. To Londoners of that age it must have been a mere country stream – but there it was and its waters were sweet and good to drink.
The Westbourne also rose in Hampstead. It crossed Edgware Road, spreading into a shallow bay-water. Hence Bayswater. When Hyde Park was made, the Westbourne was dammed up to form the Serpentine. It still leaves the Park underground, crossing under Kensington Road at Knightsbridge and falling into the Thames at Ranelagh Sewer.
The Fleet and the Holebourne (meaning the stream flowing in a hollow) were perhaps better known. The Fleet flowed between the sites of St. Pancras and King’s Cross stations, along Farringdon Road. It joined the Thames at Blackfriars.
The actual names of these rivers appear for the first time at various periods in London’s history. It is quite impossible to say when they were so named, or by whom. On the other hand, their antiquity can hardly be doubted; for this reason they are mentioned here as being part of the natural scenery of London two thousand years ago. They still exist, but only as subterranean streams.
Why London was so called is one of the difficult points about it to decide. To suggest that the Romans called it Londinium, and that subsequently we altered it to London, is not enough. Neither is it in accordance with fact. It is certain that London had a name long before the Romans ever set foot on British soil, but what, exactly, it was called is not easy to determine.
In any event it may be taken for granted that London is neither a variation nor even an abbreviation of Londinium. The word is probably old Celtic, once spelt Londinion. Londinium would be natural pronunciation for the Roman to adopt. They would call it that almost unconsciously.
In an effort to establish a Celtic origin for the name of our capital city it has been suggested that the word was once Llyn-din; llyn to mean a lake and din a fort. Apart from the fact that London had no lake (though it may have possessed a fort), llyn is a modern Welsh word. It is hardly reasonable to conclude that modern Welsh was the general language in London two thousand years ago.
Another derivation suggests that lon is short for longa, which in Old Celtic meant a ship. Don was taken to be dunon, meaning fort. If that was so the Romans should have made Longodunum out of it, or something very similar. The lake-fort idea would have resulted in Lindodunum.
There is an Old Celtic adjective having the meaning of fierce or, better, commanding. That word is Londos. London could owe its name to this word. Whatever may be the truth of this, the Romans would no doubt have latinized the name as they found it when they arrived here with Julius Caesar in 55 B.C. They were not the inventors of the word. How long Britons had lived in their little town before the coming of the Romans must ever be a matter of discussion. It is therefore enough to mention that Pytheas, the Greek explorer, who (according to his own account) traversed the whole island about 300 B.C., said he liked the people he met in Britain, particularly the Cornish.
Some of the later Greek geographers doubted the word of Pytheas, and suggested he did not traverse anything like the whole of Britain on foot. Neither did they credit his accounts of what he had seen. Pytheas, however, declared (amongst other things) that he found the Britons civil and ready to trade. this would seem to suggest that our forefathers in those remote times were not as uncouth as some historians have led us to believe.
It is very probable that London was a prosperous centre long before the Romans arrival, as the British had been trading with the world outside, with trading with such things as tin from Cornwall, copper from the Orme in north Wales and flints from Grimm Graves in East Anglia and much more, Tacitus who in 61 A.D., that London was an important centre of commerce, implying that trade was well established for some time, the Romans had come over the make use of this especially the grain for the empire.
At all events it is quite certain that in 55 B.C. Julius Caesar found enough to interest him. He admired the granaries in Kent and the state of the corn. also he complimented Britain on the solidity of its buildings, which he considered equal or even superior to those he had seen in Gaul. no doubt he handled our gold coins up to 120 grains. That they represented considerable purchasing power must have been obvious to him.
Moreover, Caesar considered Londoners well dressed, a little addicted to using woad-stain, perhaps, but not otherwise amiss. This is saying a good deal, because Caesar himself knew something about fashion. He was pleasurably surprised to find people wearing quite good linen, warm wool for the winter, and leather garments decently cut with buttons as fasteners.
British tankards, bowls, and cups, beautifully ornamented and in bronze, were in common use and would seem to point to at least an elementary culture.
The farmers of the district were evidently flourishing. Caesar observed cattle and livestock generally on his way to London. He had already admired the ships, even though he was annoyed by the fact by the fact that they were too lofty to be comfortably boarded from the decks of Roman galleys; but ships having sides of a foot/.30m thick, and of good British oak, were not to be despised. Caesar further noted the use of iron bolts and nails. Some of these vessels must have been two hundred tons/203.210kg at least; as many as a hundred and twenty men could be taken aboard in case of hostilities.
Caesar’s first landing in Britain occurred on 26th August, 55 B.C. It has been said that he had heard of the excellence of British oysters, which have been found within the Roman Empire, farmed from the rivers of the Thames estuary.
His first coming was obviously a visit to obtain some idea of the nature of the country as well as to estimate the strength of such opposition as he was likely to encounter, we must remember that British troops had been coming over to Gaul to help their friends in the fight against the Romans, so it was in the interest of the Romans to stem this tide of help. He may not have been surprised that he found Cassivellaunus more than a match for him. At all events, he hastily retired. his second attempt, the following spring, met with better success. It was on a larger scale altogether. This time Caesar brought five legions and two thousand cavalry for the project his flotilla of eight hundred ships doubtless presenting an imposing appearance. Most of these ships were shallow-draft barges constructed for the purpose during the previous winter.
Caesar says very little about his experiences until he reached the Thames, where he observed the Britons massed on the opposite bank. This was barricaded with long wooden pikes. By questioning prisoners-how he managed to understand them has always remained something of mystery-he discovered that similar pikes were secreted just beneath the water. despite this, he crossed and proceeded towards London by a commercial track eventually to become famous as the arterial Watling Street.
It is indeed unfortunate for us that Caesar did not leave a closer description of his activities or of what he saw. As he came over Shooter’s Hill towards Greenwich he must have had a very fair view of the estuary which, at high tide, probably appeared to be a wide stretch.
He did observe that there was, as far as he could tell, only one place where he might safely ford the Thames, but that ‘only with difficulty.’ He must have guessed that there would be several places higher up the river, but if the country was really marshy as some have thought it to have been he may have decided not to risk taking an army further west. also the question of opposition in the woods by those who naturally had knowledge of them may have been a deterrent.
Exactly where he forded the river has been the subject of discussion. Halliford, Sunbury-even Kingston, Petersham, and Brentford, have been suggested. Sunbury was a guess on the part of Napoleon and may be dismissed as unlikely. It is much more probable he crossed quite near Westminster, because it is on record that a ford existed there in Mediaeval times. furthermore, relics of various kinds have been found there. Skulls of the British and Roman type, as well as implements of warfare and part of a Roman military boot, suggest a skirmish of some kind.
Ii is more then probable Caesar’s own engineers built the first permanent bridge over the Thames. Caesar himself has left no record of having done so, admittedly; on the other hand, he rather fancied himself and considered it dissonant with Roman dignity to proceed over a river by any other means.
At all events, that was his attitude when he crossed the Rhine. He has described the building of the Rhine bridge, which he completed in ten days, quite fully. Fully for him, that is. Caesar was not a man of many words if they had to be written words. After his army and accoutrements had safely passed over he ordered the bridge to be destroyed. If he could build a bridge the Rhine, which at that particular point must be more than double the width of the Thames at Westminster or Chelsea, surely he would not have thought twice about bridging the British river with only half the amount of water to deal with?
At this point we can leave him-the more so as he left Britain, never to return. Before departing he imposed a tribute, but whether it was ever paid seems doubtful. Strabo says it was, but others disagree with that view. Hostages were held against default, a fact which might or might not have been a deciding factor in the situation.
Life was not held in too high esteem in those days. If we are to believe Strabo, customs on imports and exports were demanded and paid at most Gallic ports.
After Caesar left it was a case of Britain for the British. No Roman set foot in this island for ninety years. Caesar could not, in his wildest dreams, have considered the campaign a success, but it is a wonder he did not make a third attempt to bring Britain within the sway of the mighty Roman Empire, for he was then at the apex of his career.
He seems to have spent his time busily. The year 46 B.C., has come down to us as the longest on record on account of Caesar’s having inserted sixty-seven extra days into it so that the calendar should synchronize with the sun. the year was known as the Year of Confusion. Even so, as Caesar and his friend Sosignes argued, it was a deal better than continuing as they were, which meant postponing the vernal equinox from March 25 to about the middle of May. Whether the year 46 B.C., had 432 days in it so far as London was concerned is not easy to say, but it is quite likely that some sort of adjustment was made.
There was a humorous side to it. July was named after Julius Caesar; August was so called after the Emperor Augustus. Caesar lengthened July to thirty-one days, which resulted in Augustus subsequently lengthening August to thirty-one days. He said he objected to Caesar’s month being longer than his. Consequently February had its twenty-ninth day abstracted so that August might be the same length as July. This accounts for the fact that July and August are the only successive months of the year having thirty-one days-and that to satisfy the vanity of Roman Empire.
The next visitor from Rome to London was the Emperor Claudius who had good reasons for completing what Caesar had left undone. Claudius was a genial soul, quite unlike most of his predecessors. He hated warfare and preferred to preside over administrative councils.
Unfortunately for him, his predecessor had left him a bad legacy. Caligula was hardly sane. He had already lowered Roman prestige in London by a strange military action. He had landed a large army on the coast of Gaul, only to withdraw it again seemingly without reason. It is almost certain that if tribute had been paid by the people of London in the past it was then withheld. Britons decided to risk such consequences as there might be from default.
Roman Emperors in those days were expected to be war-lords and to live in uniform, at least during certain seasons of the year. Claudius hated uniform and had no interest in visiting camps for purposes of inspection. The rough legionaries-the Tommies Atkinses of the period-had in consequences no great use for Claudius. Even Caligula-mad though he was-used to show himself a soldier by turning up occasionally in military attire. From all accounts he presented a grotesque appearance, but the legionaries forgave him that. They probably extracted a certain amount of amusement out of him.
The legionaries themselves would have been content with an occasional inspection of the frontier camps. Most of them were too comfortable to require to be moved. On the other hand, high military officials had expansive ideas for the Roman Empire. Claudius was accordingly pressed into doing something definite.
If Claudius had any private reason for sending an army to Britain it was to suppress the Druids. For some reason he hated Druidism, which had by that time spread to Rome. A State reason was undoubtedly that some of the British Princes had been amassing considerable wealth. Prasutagus, King of the Iceni and husband of the notorious boadicca, was one.
When it was known at the camps that Claudius was really in earnest, and that sixty thousand men were to be sent to Britain (which was reputed to have an appalling climate) there was very nearly a mutiny. Claudius made no attempt personally to smooth matters out. That delicate task he turned over to the veteran Plautius, a general deeply respected by all ranks. Plautius did what was required and appointed young Vespasian-later to be himself a Caesar in Rome-as his second in command. They sailed and eventually reached London.
Not without opposition, of course. Plautius and Vespasion each took one side of the Thames and sat down to wait. The campaign deteriorated into a miserable guerilla warfare. Nothing particular exciting happened until the revolt of Boudicca in 62 A.D., when London and Verulam (St. Albans) were burnt out.
From London’s point of view one of the spectacles of the project was the entry of the Emperor into the town. Claudius set the fashion in male attire immediately he appeared; Londoners had never seen such a purple cloak. Neither had they beheld such uniforms. They could not all expect to dress in the purple of an Emperor of Rome, but they admired the colour and subsequently learned how to strike variations of it for their own private use. The pageant was staged to perfection and made a deep impression.
Where the final battle to effect into London was actually fought is difficult to say with certainty. It is, however, quite certain that the Romans camped between the Fleet and the Walbrook-in other words, upon the site of St.Paul’s Churchyard. Wren came upon what may have been relics of the Roman army some centuries later.
After Queen Boudicca’s unfortunate affair and subsequent suicide, (she and her daughters were raped by Roman soldiers after the death of her husband as came to take their claim of the wealth of her husband, she was rightfully angering with her treatment and looked for revenge until on this, taking suicide on her utter defeat by the Romans, Claudius at the time was up at Angelsey destroying the Driuds). London enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity. Roman rule had its disadvantages, but there is evidence that Londoners made strides in trade.
It is difficult to give a clear account of anything that happened between Boudicca’s death in 62 A.D., until the close of the third century because no classic writer mentioned London or its people. By piecing together such geological evidence as is available it seems safe to say that London town was at that time very little larger than Hyde Park and not unlike it in shape. Fifty thousand souls must have been the full population.
The walls were erected after the sack of London by Boudicca. The north wall probably ran along the course of Cornhill and Leadenhall street. Another ran from the site of the Tower to Aldgate, bending round by Bishopsgate, when it ran east to St. Giles’s churchyard. Here it turned south to Falcon Square ; to the west by Aldgate round the site of Greyfriars towards Gilspur Street ; then south to Ludgate and down to the river. Pieces of the wall are still to be seen in various parts of the city. London Stone, near Cannon Street Station, is generally supposed to have been the centre point from which distances were measured Wren, however, thought it to have been part of some statue or ornament in the Forum.
In times of peace London went about its daily business with a good will. Large supplies of food and milk arrived daily at one or other of the gates, and were probably put under examination before being allowed to proceed although under military rule, it is true to say that London was by no means a military centre, more like an administrative centre-the Civil Capital of the Roman Province of Britain. This meant more than south-east Britain-at least, it did by the time Hadrian built his famous wall from the Solway to the Tyne. The country had been divided much the same as what the BBC had divided up into regionals, with London being the chief centre of administration.
At the beginning of the fourth century the Emperor Diocletian, realizing that the cost of living in London was extraordinarily high, (very similar to today in 2018) contrived to spare little time from his favourite occupation of harassing the Christians and devoting himself to standardizing prices of commodities, settling wages, and other such matters. The list of his findings was exhibited, but that seemed to be all. It was found to be impractical-not to be wondered at, seeing whence it came-and was eventually ignored ; but during the reign of Constantine the town of London as a commercial centre was particularly active.
The Roman occupation of London lasted sufficiently long to seem to each rising generation to have existed always. Londoners must have learned, almost in their infancy, to respect the Prefect who was at the head of affairs and directly responsible to the Emperor in all matters affecting the place and its people. Their fathers, at all events, entertained a healthy respect for the Quae-stores, who collected the taxes with untiring energy and regularity. Some of the money thus collected was handed over to the Aediles, who maintained the public buildings and looked after the roads. There is no doubt that a road-fund existed in Roman times.
The Praefectus Vigilum was the Chief Constable. The Praefectus Annonae was the Director of Food Supplies. The latter probably had his offices not far from Ludgate, the gate leading out of the western side of the town. It may have been nothing more than a postern, but the Ludgate was a strange-looking erection. The image of the Celtic god Lud, no beauty, was permitted to decorate it. Whether the Romans admired him or not is, of course, not on record. Perhaps the fact that they allowed him to remain there instead of replacing him with a mercury or an Apollo proves they did.
The Romans were a clean people. The Britons were probably not. Baths were built in several parts of the town, the largest of which was the one near Ludgate. It is quite likely that, at first, Britons regarded these baths as a luxury rather than as a necessity, but there is no doubt that the Romans taught them a good deal in elementary hygiene. A Roman bath still exists in Strand Lane.
The Streets of London at this period were extraordinarily narrow. It is difficult to reconcile a sixteen-foot/4.8m way with the type of building that evidently was erected. Sixteen feet/4.8m seems narrow indeed when one thinks of the height of some of the better buildings. It has been proved that the height was not inconsiderable.
To cross the bridge into London from the Surrey side a few years after the Roman occupation must have been interesting. There was much to see. A temple, here and there, to Diana or Apollo ; a forum ; a good theatre ; possibly an acropolis. These must have stood out against some of the immature constructions remaining from earlier times.
Villas near the river, with their reddish-brown tiles, warmed the scene in the light of the setting sun. some of these houses were worth a visit, those of the richer merchants being resplendent with really beautiful mosaic floors. On entering a man’s dining-room one would find that the floor offered a fairly good representation of the god Bacchus riding a tiger. such things were common.
If we are to believe the tradition of St. Peter’s, Cornhill, it was possible to attend divine service at a Christian church in the year 179-to wit, at that same St. Peter’s Cornhill. It would be safer, however, not to believe the tradition. It is doubtful whether Christianity was represented in London much before the end of the third century.
So far as St. Paul’s is concerned, tradition has it that the earliest building on the site was a Roman temple dedicated to the worship of Diana. It is more than likely that a temple did stand there, particularly as it was a suitable height between the rivers Fleet and Walbrook, but there is no direct evidence in favour of the theory. Historians have referred to a certain bishop, Restitutus by name, who converted this temple into a Christian church but, again, there is nothing definite to relate regarding him.
The custom of early to bed and early to rise was one which the people of London followed closely in those days, particularly in the winter when use had to be made of every scrap of available light. Perhaps street-lighting was allowed ; if so, by oil lamps. Bronze lamps have been found during excavations at most periods. Some are of considerable size and capable of producing a fair light. Tallow candles were used by the poor.
We are left in ignorance of the furniture of the period. Nothing in the way of chairs or tables have survived. Bronze bells and ornaments have been found in plenty. Also a quantity of pottery. Red glazed-ware, probably sent over from Gaul ‘ knives, spoons, and two-pronged forks ; silver plate ; boots and shoes without heels ; jewellery.
Amusements were naturally simple and elementary in appeal, but there does not seem to have been much dancing. The Romans either considered it undignified or else barbaric; probably both. Whether plays were popular at the amphitheatre excepting in the summer would seem doubtful. It could hardly have been possible to heat the building. The theatre, by the way, stood between the town walls and the Fleet inlet.
House-heating was affected by hypocaust, an invention ascribed to Sergius Orata about a hundred years before Christ. It was used in Italy for heating baths. Probably in London also. Romano-British houses of the better type were not considered complete without a workable hypocausis. This was an external furnace capable of driving hot gases through flues in the walls. Sometimes they passed to a central flue from which branches led to subsidiary flues built into walls. The flues were composed of tiles, and the system can be accurately described as that of central heating. The resultant smoke was reduced to a minimum, but as the furnace chimney could not have been high there may have been smoke nuisance. Even so, we may conclude that there no London fogs in those days, though mists may have been common near the river at certain times of the year.
In the summer Roman London was delighted. A walk along the banks of the Thames meant disturbing beaver and bittern. If Londoners required a little mire excitement, a picnic in St. John’s Wood or on Hampstead Heath, walking out at Ludgate and past the cemeteries, might have resulted in an encounter with wild boar, even wolves.
In the sweet air of the early morning one could walk along to Chelsea Reach and watch salmon being caught. For a few pence one could purchase trout and ensure an appetizing breakfast. To walk home along the open Strand from which the view to the southward was as attractive as it was extensive, the hills of Surrey standing out in clear perspective; to wander along the pretty lane of Fleet Street which led down a gentle slope past the River of Wells; to enter the town itself through Ludgate, past the Temple, the Forum, the Theatre should have been an aesthetic pleasure. London certainly possessed all the charm of a prosperous country town.
Upon the reoccupation following the sacking by Boadicca, which was only effected gradually, a general scheme of reconstruction on more ‘modern’ lines was thought out. Naturally enough Londoners wanted to build new London of stone to replace the beautiful and imposing buildings they had learned to love.
Britons and Romans were enemies no longer. They had shared common adversity. There may have been private indignation amongst the British residents when they thought of all that had caused Boadicca to revolt, but so far as their homes were concerned – and home interests have ever been deep interests – they were no worse off than the Romans.
When it came to putting ideas into actual practice it was found that there was a serious shortage of stone. The nearest quarries were at Merstham in Surrey; the next nearest were those at Maidstone for Kentish rag. Nobody had the heart, much less the money, to venture to send to either place for material wherewith to build their new homes and public places. There was too much danger in leaving the district. Rumours were abroad that life and limb were not safe anywhere.
There was only one remedy – to improvise brickyards locally. Brick earth was to be had in plenty; thus new London was chiefly brick-built. Stone saved from former wreckages was used for important buildings which were thus faced, but London was otherwise a brick-built town.
Londoners were disheartened. Even the Roman survivors seem to have given up all thought of beautifying the town as only they knew how. The common sorrow and misery may have brought Britons closer to those whose fathers had conquered their fathers, but no doubt they thought, with embittered feelings. of the Londinium of earlier days. It could hardly have occurred to them that Britannia ruled no waves, though it may have been recognized that Rome was still the hub of the universe. These were days when early Britons first became mellowed with classic Latin, when rich colours from foreign lands first delighted a simple people.
Roman rule was not without fault in many ways. Even so, at the best it was better than anything we had known. Hatred of foreign military domination had its counterpart in love. Many Romano-British marriages may have been happy enough. If the children featurally resembled their Roman fathers they may have been dark, with blue but more often brown eyes. If they resembled their British mothers they invariably had fair hair, and eyes as blue as the sky reflected in the clear waters of the Thames.
Then came the days when Rome herself was in peril. In 407 the legionaries were recalled from Britain. when Roman administration had gone there was nothing to take its place. Many wives had to part from their husbands; others, more fortunate, were allowed to go to Italy to begin life over again.
Once the native element was free, Roman laws and customs – to a certain extent the language – began to disappear, but Londoners could never forget the Romans. Too much remained, even now, of which full use was still made: roads, bridges, lighthouses, drainage works, fortresses.
Christianity had come. A few enthusiasts thought it had come to stay, but in 303 a desolating persecution under Diocletian unnerved every one. St. Alban was the first martyr, at Verulam, a place ever to be called St. Albans in memory of him. In 314, however, Britain boasted its own bishops at councils on the Continent. The Council of Arles was attended by the Bishops of London, York, and Lincoln. The Church in Britain assented to the findings of the Council of Nicea in 325, and British Bishops were present at the Council of Rimini in 359.
Never in its history was Britain so unsafe, so open to foreign attack. Never was London, as an administrative centre, so helpless. for generations no Briton had been permitted to raise a finger in the government of the land or its capital. It naturally followed that there was now nobody capable of doing anything definite. What happened was only what could have happened under such conditions; Britain, like an uncared-for rose, began to slip back to type. The old tribal instincts had never really died, because such things are of the blood and take ages to suppress.
As it turned out, there was not time in which to degenerate in this fashion for the next few years. London was to live through exiting times. Even so, it is a wonder the Romans did not make a more lasting impression on the inhabitants of Britain, if only on account of their having ruled for so long a period.
Britons may not have been impressionable in those days. At all events, the history of our race points to a systematic rejection of Latin influences, unless introduced by Englishmen. Sir Christopher Wren brought about a renascence in architecture based directly on Romanesque lines. It was accepted because he did it, but Romanesque architecture has never been popular outside London. So far as the larger provincial towns are concerned the natural tendency has been to revert to Gothic, especially in ecclesiastical architecture.
Wren brought London of 1700 nearer in appearance to Londinium of 400 than it had been for a thousand years. He built after what he called ‘the good Roman fashion.’ Had he lived in Londinium, even ten years after the Romans had left it, he would have found much with which he agreed professionally. On the other hand, he would have found it anything but Roman in thought. Half a generation after the Romans went back to Italy the native instincts of all true Britons had reasserted themselves. Times were rapidly changing.
Anglo-Saxon/Englisc London 410 – 1016 A.D.
Obscurity envelops London and doings of Londoners practically from the hour the Romans left it until the coming of Augustine. We must be content to regard the town as Romano-British with less and less accent on the Romano and more and more on the British as the years rolled on; but when the Saxons came it was still a Romano-British army that fought them.
The Latin language was certainly no longer a barrier. The Britishers probably regarded the Romans who remained much as we regard the Welsh in these days. While we have not the slightest objection to their Celtic inflection, we instantly complain if they conduct their conversation in the actual Welsh language. It must have been the same with the British and Romans in those days. The Romans might speak British/Welsh with a foreign accent, they might even occasionally postpone their verbs to the end of their sentences, but so long as they did not expect the natives of Britain to talk Latin, all was well.
Danish London 1017 – 1043A.D.
Anglo-Saxon/Englisc London 1042 – 1066 A.D.