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Posted:  Saturday 14 January 2012

South East Associates
Tour Roman London

- Thursday 8th December -

Eighteen Associates met in the amazing Blackfriars Pub built in 1875 on the site of a thirteenth century Dominican Priory, which also served as inspiration for the interior design of the pub and of a large laughing friar standing guard above the main door.

Londinium - AD120

John Gibson, an Official London Guide complete with a Boris-bestowed badge, gave us a fascinating tour of both the historic and Roman City.

Outside the Guildhall and on top of the amphitheatre

John is hugely knowledgeable about London – especially the ’Square Mile’, or the City of London.  The City is built over the original site of the first Roman town of Londinium, straddling the (now underground) Wallbrook River, and its boundaries are not a lot bigger than the original Roman town.

Londinium Map - AD120

The City has it’s own mayor and police force, and has a character unique to itself.

William the Conqueror is not so-called within the City limits, because he never conquered it – he did a deal – and so is known therein as William the Bastard!

It was surprising how much of the Roman town remains.  The Roman city wall is quite visible in several places, one right in the middle of the Barbican.

A bit of Rome in the Barbican

The site of the original large public bath-house beside the original river - 3 times wider back then - is known, and a large Temple to Mithras is intact, just east of St Paul’s.

The line of the amphitheatre at the Guildhall

Biggest surprise was the substantial remains of a very large amphitheatre under Guildhall and its adjacent art gallery.  It is dramatically presented in the cellars beneath the buildings.

Remains of the amphitheatre and ghosts of the gladiators

The walk ended at the marvellous Museum of London, which has an excellent display of Roman artefacts, and some superb models of the city in many stages of it’s existence.  A highly recommended place to visit!

Kevin Williams

(ph  14/01/2011)

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