Life in Roman Britain: 10 Sights & Sounds of Roman Britain


Life in Roman Britain: In Celtic times Britain was already a prosperous country. The Romans rapidly increased its prosperity during this time period.

Their Colonial policy aimed at winning the approval of the upper classes by founding new centres such as Lincoln in the countryside, or by introducing Roman civilization to existing tribal centres. When the Romans departed from Britain, the country quickly lapsed from its civilized ways. But the memory of Rome remained for centuries afterwards an ideal to which emergent nation had continual recourse.

The following highlights the 10 Historical Sights & Sounds of Life in Roman Britain:

10. Roman Villa at Lullingstone (Kent)

The Roman Villa located at Lullingstone, in Kent was built on an ancient site. The stone house to appear on the site was probably built by a British farmer in the 1st century AD.

Most probably, by the end of that century, it was occupied by a Roman and was greatly expanded by the addition of modern baths and other rooms.

The house stood empty for most of the 3rd century until it was taken over by a prosperous Romano-British family and was later converted into a Christian chapel.

9. Pottery figurines

Pottery figurines that were fashioned to represent diners and reciters were excavated from a Roman child’s grave at Colchester.

It is known that the Colchester have been the hub of all Roman Britain social-political activities in 49 AD, and veteran soldiers, mostly Italian settled in Colchester.

The stocky build and general facial characteristics of these Pottery figurines suggest that they depict men from northern Italy.

8. Silchester

Silchester, in Hampshire, is the only Roman town in Britain that has been completely excavated. It is thought to have been founded in 45 AD.

It is a typically Roman town in its grid-iron arrangement, and include buildings such as baths and temples, its residential areas and its open spaces.

The centre, as in Rome, itself was the Forum, a large square surface surrounded by public buildings and shops. These shops are more elaborate than the ordinary shops located at other places in Silchester, which served also as houses and sometimes as workshops.

7. Britain Oldest Church – St Martin’s Church, Canterbury

St Martin’s Church, Canterbury is probably the oldest Christian church in Britain. It is also the only building in the country that was used for Christian worship in both Roman and Anglo-Saxon times.

Before being adopted for Christian use, this site had served as a pagan temple for Romano-Celtic religions. In 597 AD, St Augustine used it as his headquarters for his mission to Re-Christianize England.

6. Roman Theatre at Verulamium

The Roman theatre at Verulamium (St Albans) was built in 140 AD. It is one of only three found in Britain. It is used not only for plays but also for dancing, wrestling, and bear-baiting.

The audience sat on a semicircular bank of raised seats, with leading citizens occupying the front rows.

5. Romano-British Farmhouses

The Romano-British farmhouses were generally single-story buildings with rooms leading into one another rather than off a corridor.

There were usually a number of building in addition to the living quarters.

4. Roman Central Heating System

One of the unique inventions of the time was the Roman Central Heating system located at Chedworth Roman Villa (near Cheltenham).

This system worked by means of a hypocaust (comprising a hollow space under the floor of a building, into which hot air was directed). In every Roman villa in Britain at that time, one or more rooms were heated by the same means.

In Mediterranean lands, hypocausts were usually installed only for heating the baths, but the rigorous British climate demanded a more elaborate and effective system, which Roman implemented in Britain.

This effective hypocausts system consist basically of a furnace below ground-level, which was fed with charcoal by a stoke-hole located on an outside wall.

3. Bronze Statuette

This bronze statuette of a British ploughman was found at Piercebride in County Durham. Belgic immigrants from northeast Gaul before and after Julius Caesar’s invasions introduced the heavy caruca, which went deeper than the Celtic plough.

2. The Cerne giant

The Cerne giant was cut in the chalk of a hillside near Cerne Abbas in Dorset in the Late Roman period.

The figure stands 55 meters tall and holds a club. Some historian suggested that the Cerne giant is a British adaptation of the cult of Hercules, which was early introduced to Britain by Romans.

1. Roman Mosaic

Roman Mosaic – such as this 2nd-century depiction of autumn from a villa at Corinium (present-day English county of Gloucestershire) was put in many public and private buildings of Roman Britain.

They often represented mythical scenes and stories. The Roman tried to bring their Mediterranean style of life to Britain, adopting it as little as possible.