This post was most recently updated on June 27th, 2018
The Best 10 Roman Ruins/Buildings in England
There is rich Roman history embedded in the countryside of Great Britain. It is amazing to see how the people lived their daily lives. You can get a glimpse into the past by visiting these beautiful ancient Roman ruins.
There are so many locations to consider when trying to find the best 10 Roman ruins/buildings in England. The Romans ruled Britain for almost 400 years and the Roman Empire was the biggest empire to date. In the year 143 AD, 40,000 Roman soldiers invaded Britain in a very hard fought battle because the native British showed great tenacity.
Emperor Claudius decided to invade Britain to distract Roman citizens from his own political problems. He became emperor after the assassination of his predecessor and decided to conquer Britain because Julius Caesar had failed to do so 100 years earlier. At this time, most of Britain was very fragmented. There were many languages spoken by warring tribes. All this made Britain a very easy target for Rome. Many Romans considered Britain to be cursed.
The Romans landed unopposed on the British coast. Many people consider the original landing site to be Richborough. The remains of a large Roman fort can still be seen there. The Roman army was far better equipped. The British fighters had little to no armor, and it didn’t take long for the Romans to march across Britain.
Once the Romans conquered the capital, the emperor rode into the capital on the back of an elephant. This was the crowning point of his career and politically and militarily bolstered his position. The only problem was that the southeast had been conquered at this point, while the rest of the island remained free. Rome decided the best plan to conquer Britain was to create city-states by offering various tribes positions of power in exchange for not fighting. After acquiring a force of local tribes, Rome began to expand its control to the remaining parts of Britain.
1. Arbeia Roman Fort, Northumberland
This fort was once a maritime supply fort for Hadrian’s wall. Built in 160 AD, this supply fort played a vital role in maintaining military forces in Britain. This ancient Roman fort has been converted into a museum. There are still remains of the original barracks, and you can still see how soldiers lived long ago. This gives you a unique perspective into ancient Roman life. You can go in the commanding officer’s house and see the beautiful mosaics. This is a beautifully kept structure that will give you true insight into the daily life of a Roman soldier.
2. Bignor Roman Villa, Sussex
This villa dates as far back as 200 AD. The villa was burned to the ground about 200 years after it was built. It was rediscovered in 1811 by a farmer. This site has some of the best Roman mosaics in England; these mosaics are almost entirely intact. There still remains the base of mighty pillars that once held up great Roman structures. The artwork is exquisite. Many famous pieces, such as the dolphin, can be viewed. If you enjoy mosaics this is a must-see location.
3. Brading Roman Villa, Isle of Wight
This villa can be dated as far back as the 1st century AD and was in use until around the 4th century. This villa survived many Anglo-Saxon raids. It also survived several fires. The site is now a museum where you can see a lot of Roman stonework and mosaics. You get access to private rooms and a complete look at the structure in general. This villa is in excellent condition; it is filled with awesome facts and interesting bits of ancient Roman architecture.
4. Chedworth Roman Villa, Gloucestershire
This site boasts a number of amazing mosaics. It is one of the largest villas of this type in England. This site is controlled by National Trust and it dates back to 120 AD. It was completely remodelled in 310 AD, and was transformed into a dwelling for the elite. There is a large dining room with a beautiful mosaic floor. There are also two separate bathing suites. The entire west wing was heated and furnished. This villa was discovered in 1864 and was acquired by the National Trust in 1924. It is believed this was a private homestead that was the home of a very wealthy Romano-Briton.
5. Chester Roman Amphitheatre, Cheshire
This is the only amphitheater discovered in Britain. This site is believed to be the original home to several amphitheaters that were built at the same location. This location is dated to 280 AD. It has not been fully excavated yet. It is an impressive structure designed to hold 8,000 spectators. This amphitheater was primarily used for military training and drills. It also saw gladiatorial combat, cock fighting, wrestling, and bull baiting.
6. Chester Bridge, Northumberland
This famous bridge was used as part of Hadrian’s Wall and stretched for 60 meters to cross the North Tyne River. Much of this bridge has been destroyed over the years. The eastern side contains stonework that is intact.
7. Durovernum Cantiacorum (Canterbury)
This world-famous city was once the capital of a Celtic tribe. After it was captured by the Romans, it was rebuilt and grew to 130 acres. The entire property was enclosed by a giant wall. Some parts still stand today including the original Roman gate. There is a Roman history museum on site that has many ancient mosaics, some dating from 2 AD.
8. Eboracum (York)
This village originated as a Roman fort. The Roman military headquarters still stands today and it is open to the public. There is also a Roman public bath, a temple, and multangular tower; all are in good condition and very interesting to view.
9. Littlecote Roman Villa, Wiltshire
This villa is world famous for its mosaic of Orpheus. It is in excellent shape and dates back to 4 AD. This villa was discovered when a farmhouse owner decided to run electrical lines to his barn. When he started digging, he quickly realized he was unearthing something special. This is one of the biggest Roman villas in England.
10. Pevensey Roman Fort, East Sussex
This Roman fort was used throughout ancient times. There is still much of the original Roman stonework visible—mostly in the curtain wall. Improvements were continually made to this castle fort until 1588 when a new gun battery was added.