London today is known for being one of the most important cities in the world, with its huge financial sector to its culture and for that reason I decided to look at what made it such a significant city. Knowing how the Romans had a lasting effect on the city through its architecture I decided to use my walk as a way of seeing the remains of the Roman era.
I started my walk on Cannon Street and continued it round, from here you could see the various bridges that cross the Thames, I reach Walbrook and there I found that the Temple of Mithras was located here due to a small plaque that was attached to Bloomberg’s building. The temple was accidently found in 1954, and was front page news at the time in which many flocked to see it. The temple was home to the popular Roman cult Mithraism, it is said that Mithraism “vied with Christianity for dominance of Rome and through that the whole of Western Civilisation” (Cooper, 1996. P1). In terms of the context of where the temple is placed it would have been very central in Londinium, and close to Walbrook Stream would have passed through in the early centuries. It has been said that Mithraism was very popular with Roman soldiers as it focused on “courage, integrity, and moral behaviour”.
I reach Monument station and decide to walk towards the monument for the Great Fire of London and from there I found myself at Fish Street Hill. Fish Street Hill is where one of the most important Roman streets lied, it’s significance is that it led the road down to the river and where the Roman Bridge stood which is now St Magnus the Martyr Church. As I came to the entrance of St Magnus’ I found a piece of wood that has the plaque ‘FROM ROMAN WHARF’. I found that it is believed to either be a piece of timber from the “Roman bridge or, more likely, one of the Roman wharves which lie beneath the church”. The importance of this piece of wood being located shows that although the Roman period was centuries ago there is still so much that hasn’t been found.
After getting a bit lost I made my way back to Gracechurch Street and came across Leadenhall Market. What Leadenhall Market is today being where the Roman city hall (Basilica) and market used to be. Much like Leadenhall Market the Roman market would have been very similar, as it would sell “meat and poultry”. However in Roman Londinium the Basilica acted as more than just a trader’s market it also “housed city administrators, law courts, an assembly hall, the treasury and shrines”. It is said to have been a huge space that embodied the life in Londinium as it was open to both the public and city officials, it would have been the heart of everyday life in Londinium. The only remains of the Basilica are situated in the basement of the barber shop in Leadenhall market. The original Basilica can be likened to Trafalgar Square as it was “a huge open-air square that acted as a public meeting place”. this proves how important the Basilica is and that Roman architecture has influenced buildings in London throughout time.
The last part of my walk is my most significant in terms of seeing remains of a Roman fort that was connected to the London Wall. The remaining part of the Roman fort lies just below the high walk on Wood Street, from ground level it is hard to see where the fort would lie and what part is left of it so I walked to the top of the high walk to get a better view and from there it was much clearer to see where the fort would have been. Along where the remaining fort lies are circular shaped remains in which was a Roman tower. It has been claimed that these remains are part of the London Wall, which was “constructed as part of an extensive programme of public works between approximately AD 190 and AD 225. It served to form the basis of protection”. The importance of the wall in Londinium was for protection, however it did more than that. It shaped the future of London in what encompassed it, it set out boundaries from the heart of London to the outskirts of it. Its legacy has continued to this day as the heart of the financial sector of London sits in the centre of the wall, and it can be argued that the financial sector is the new heart of London as it personifies the key parts of what people think London is today.
Mithras: Mysteries and Initiation Rediscovered. D. Jason Cooper. Weiser Books, 1 Jun 1996. Page 1
The Temple of Mithras, London. David Ross. http://www.britainexpress.com/History/temple_of_mithras.htm
Road to Rome. City of London Archaeological Trust.