Framlingham CastleDingle HarbourPortmeirion, North WalesLoch Lomond, ScotlandFanad Lighthouse in County Donegal, IrelandStonehengeFfestiniog Railway, North WalesRock of Cashel, IrelandTu Hwnt i'r Bont and Pont Fawr Bridge, WalesEdinburgh Military TattooWindsor CastleWelsh Highland Railway

A Tour of Roman Britain

Britain is well known for its wealth of Roman remains and artefacts, which date back to the beginning of the first millennium AD, when Roman legions crossed the English Channel to occupy the country. From the well-preserved Roman baths of Aquae Sulis (now the city of Bath) to Hadrian’s Wall near the Scottish border, a tailor-made tour with Janet Redler Travel & Tourism will take in the most significant Roman sites and treasures in Britain.

VE20127.JPGLondon's Roman Amphitheatre © Visit England/City of London/Clive Totman

A tour of Roman Britain perhaps best starts in the UK’s bustling capital city London, where a visit to the famous British Museum, one of the most popular free museums anywhere in the world, provides a fascinating overview and insight into Roman life. London was founded by the Romans as Londinium nearly 2000 years ago and there are a number of Roman landmarks in the capital that can be seen to this day, including the London Wall, temples, baths and an amphitheatre.

Heading out of the capital towards south west England, the Roman amphitheatre in Silchester, less than 50 miles from London, is well worth a visit. Once the important town of Calleva Atrebatum, Silchester boasts one of the best preserved Roman town defences in England, and its amphitheatre offers an evocative insight into how it felt to be a gladiator.

Life in Roman Britain

The ancient city of Bath, built by the Romans as a spa with the Latin name Aquae Sulis (the waters of Sulis) around AD60, is situated on Britain’s only naturally occurring hot spring. The Roman Baths are perhaps one of Britain’s greatest and best preserved Roman sites and should not be missed, along with the adjoining Roman temple dedicated to the goddess Sulis Minerva and extensive Roman ruins. To enjoy this incredible Roman complex by torchlight on a warm summer’s evening is one of the most magical ways to experience Roman Britain.

VE12031.jpgRoman Baths with Bath Abbey © VisitEngland/BathTourismPlus

Wales has a number of Roman sites including Venta Silurium, which has some of the best surviving Roman defensive walls in Britain, standing up to five metres (15 feet) high in places, and Caerleon, a Roman garrison town which once housed 5,000 soldiers and still boasts many visible Roman remains, including an amphitheatre, baths and barracks. Caerleon is also famous for its links with the King Arthur legend.

A short hop back over the border into England takes us to Chedworth Roman Villa in Gloucestershire. One of the largest Roman villas ever unearthed in Britain, this former farmstead possesses some splendid fourth century mosaics.

Wroxeter in Shropshire, known as Viroconium Cornviorum to the Romans, was once the fourth largest Roman city in England. The seven metre (21 feet) high basilica wall is the largest free-standing Roman structure in Britain and this extensive Roman site features the remains of a bath house and a reconstructed Roman townhouse.

In the footsteps of Roman centurions

Chester in North West England – the Roman town of Deva – was one of the main Roman military forts in Britain and includes the remains of the largest surviving amphitheatre in Britain. Chester is one of the best preserved walled cities in Britain and a must on any Roman tour of Britain. Walk on the walls, see the amphitheatre and enjoy a guided tour with a Roman centurion!

VE13993.jpgRoman soldier tour guide in Chester © VisitEngland/Marketing Cheshire

One of the best known Roman features in Britain is Hadrian’s Wall, in northern England close to the Scottish border, which once marked the northern frontier of the Roman Empire. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Hadrian’s Wall is one of the largest Roman structures in the world. Huge stretches of the wall still remain, snaking through the wild and empty border lands, and when visiting it is easy to imagine how life must have been for a Roman centurion on the edge of their occupied world. Hadrian’s Wall Path is perfect for today’s walkers who wish to retrace the footsteps of those Roman soldiers.

The Roman fort at Vindolanda, just south of Hadrian’s Wall, is best known for the Vindolanda tablets, among the most significant Roman finds ever made. These are some of the oldest surviving handwritten documents in Britain and offer a deeply personal insight into Roman life. Although most of the tablets are now housed at the British Museum, a number are on display at Vindolanda.

VB34140250.jpgHadrian's Wall © VisitBritain/Joe Cornish 

The edge of empire

Further north into Scotland, there are a number of Roman sites, which mark the pushing north of the boundary of empire to the later Antonine Wall, which aimed to replace Hadrian’s Wall. While less remains of this UNESCO World Heritage site, there are still the remains of several forts and a good deal of evidence in the landscape for tourists to explore.

Heading back down through England, no tour of Roman Britain would be complete without a visit to Camulodunum (modern day Colchester) which was the site of the first permanent Roman fort in Britain and the first capital of Roman Britain. Camulodunum was one of the largest Roman cities in the country and among the many Roman sites that can still be seen in and around the town is the Balkerne Gate – the largest surviving Roman gateway in Britain.

We have only touched upon some of the main Roman sights in Britain and there are of course many more which could be included on a tour of Roman Britain. Perhaps you would like to extend your tour to see Rome itself or to visit other places in Europe where the Romans left their mark? If so, we can help!

To find out more about a tour of Roman Britain and to book a tailor-made tour for you or your group, please do contact our friendly team today. 

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