Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Roman Sites in England

During their occupation of Britain, a period of some 400 years, the Romans did much to change the physical landscape of the country. Besides their famously straight roads and many towns, they built luxury rural villas and military forts. Supply towns along Hadrian’s Wall and defensive forts, the so-called Saxon Shore Forts, along the south east coast of England.  The Antonine Wall in Scotland, and a network of forts and fortlets in Wales. Nearly 2,000 years later theer are numerous and varied Roman ruins scattered throughout the country. Many of which are accessible to the public. These are either manged privately or by national bodies, such as the National Trust or English Heritage. 

Benwell Roman Fort (Temple & Vallum)

Benwell Roman Fort was the second fort along Hadrian’s Wall. Very little of the site survives today. Two features of the fort have been preserved amongst the houses of the Benwell housing estate. One is a vallum crossing, which is the only surviving vallum crossing along Hadrian’s Wall. The second is a small, single apse temple that was in the vicus that lay beyond the fort, which was dedicated to Antenociticus. The head of a sculpture depicting Antenociticus is all that remains, now in the Great North Museum.

Bignor Roman Villa

Situated in the heart of the South Downs National Park is Bignor Roman Villa. Amongst the features on display is one of the longest villa corridors in the UK, and only a third of it has been exposed; a dining room with a hypocaust floor; and some of the finest mosaics in England. The walls and mosaic floors of the Villa were discovered over 200 years ago and are still covered by the original Georgian buildings constructed to protect the mosaics; these unique buildings have their own historical significance.

Birdoswald Roman Fort

Birdoswald Roman Fort, called Banna by the Romans, is one of the best preserved forts along Hadrian’s Wall. The relatively well excavated fort has the usual set of buildings, a central headquarters building, granaries and barracks, but the remains of an exercise building have also been uncovered. It is also here that the longest continuous surviving stretch of the wall itself can be visited. An onsite farmhouse-style B&B is available for anyone visiting Hadrian’s Wall wishing to overnight on this historic site.

Brading Roman Villa

In a designated area of outstanding natural beauty, Brading Roman Villa is one of the finest Romano-British sites in the UK with some of the best preserved mosaics in northern Europe. The villa was first a simple farmstead, but by the time it was destroyed by fire towards the end of the 3rd century it was an impressive villa surrounding three sides of a central courtyard. The main building of the villa is now entirely exposed and under the cover of an ward-wining and ecologically sensitive exhibition and visitor centre.

Burgh Castle Roman Fort

One of the most impressive surviving Roman sites in Britain, with three of the four surrounding walls surviving to almost their original height. The fourth wall has long since fallen into the marshes surrounding the fort. Built around 300 AD, for over 100 years it was one of the so-called Saxon Shore forts defending the south east coast of Roman Britain. The fort itself was occupied by soldiers and sailors, while a large civilian settlement developed beyond the walls. Historians believe the Roman name for the fort was Gariannonum.

Caister Roman Fort

Built while southern Britain was part of the Roman Empire, the fort at Caister was likely designed to defend against marauding Germanic seafarers along what Roman sources called the ‘Saxon Shore’. The fort was constructed around the start of the 3rd century AD and continued in use until the late 4th century AD. The fort was home not only to between 500 and 1000 men, but also many of their family members too. Excavated in the 1950s, it provided much information about daily life in the Roman period.

Chedworth Roman Villa

The Roman Villa at Chedworth is thought to be one of the largest of its kind in Britain, and one of the richest in the 4th century AD. During your visit you can see a number of well preserved features of a typical Roman villa; these include a latrine, bath houses, a dining room with magnificent mosaic floors, as well as a nymphaeum – a shrine sited at a natural spring. On a wet day you might even encounter some large snails, these are the very descendants of those introduced by the Romans for food.

Chester Roman Amphitheatre

Dating from the 1st century AD, the Chester’s amphitheatre is the largest known stone amphitheatre in Roman Britain. It was located southeast of the legionary fortress, and used for both entertainment and military training. Recent excavations revealed that by 120 AD the amphitheatre was all but abandoned, but it was bought back into use in around 275 AD following some rebuilding. It remained in use until about 350 AD. Today only two fifths of the amphitheatre is exposed, the rest lies unexcavated.

Cirencester Amphitheatre

On the outskirts of Cirencester are the remains of what was one of the largest amphitheatres in Roman Britain. At its maximum capacity it could have held around 8,000 people, there to watch animals and gladiators fight and be killed. It was fortified in the 5th century AD, a period of great turbulence. In the Middle Ages, the amphitheatre was converted into a rabbit warren and may also have been used for bull-bating. The site has been excavated by archaeologists and is freely accessible for those who want to visit.

Cricklepit Mill

Watermills have stood at this spot next to the Roman Wall since 1220 AD. Over the years there have been nine mills in all, including a grist mill for milling grain and a fulling mill for cleaning and strengthening woollen cloth. The surviving mill house was restored in the 1990s by the Devon Historic Buildings Trust, with a hydro-turbine installed in 2010. Electricity produced by the mill powers the visitor centre, which is at the centre of a wildlife garden run by Devon Wildlife Trust.

Dover Castle

Dover Castle, the ‘gateway to the realm’, is one of Britain’s best-surviving Norman castles. Excavations suggest the site was in 800 BC an Iron Age hillfort. A Roman lighthouse was converted into a bell tower. Over the last 1,000 years it has been a royal palace, a Napoleonic fortress, a military base for ‘Operation Dynamo’ during the Battle of Dunkirk and a Cold War communications office. Walk the battlements to enjoy views over the White Cliffs, get lost in secret underground wartime passages and imagine life as the king from the palace in the Great Tower.

Exeter Roman & Medieval Wall

Throughout Exeter there are numerous remnants and signs of a city wall. The first stone wall was built by the Romans, sometime during the 2nd century AD, using as its foundations an earth and timber rampart and ditch that surrounded a legionary fortress. With the collapse of the Roman Empire the town was abandoned. It was not until the 10th century that the walls were rebuilt, and again in the 17th century during the English Civil War.

Keston Roman Villa & Tombs

On the edge of Greater London in the small leafy village of Keston, archaeologists found the remains of a 3rd Century AD Roman villa and at least two tombs and many individual graves. Excavations started in the late 1960s and carried on until the 1990s. For conservation reasons the villa was covered up following excavation, but the tombs were left exposed. The ruins are on private property and are usually only accessible to the public on open days held in September each year.

London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE

A chance discovery in 1954 during post-war archaeological excavations led to the discovery of the Roman mithraeum. The temple dedicated to Mithras was built in the 3rd century AD. During the construction of Bloomberg’s European headquarters archaeologists found numerous Roman artefacts. Including over 400 writing tablets, one being the first recorded reference to London. A selection of these are on display along with a spectacular and engaging presentation of the mithraeum.

London's Roman & Medieval City Wall

After nearly 2,000 years sizeable fragments of the wall that once defended the Roman port of Londinium still remain. The wall was built in about 200 AD, and along with Hadrian’s Wall and the network of Roman roads it was one of the largest architectural features to have been built by in Britain by the Romans. It was maintained and rebuilt by successive Medieval Londoners, and today the various fragments are incorporated into the contemporary architecture and layout of the City of London.