What was the Most Important Site in Ancient London? The Forum!

After reading this title youre probably asking yourself why on earth would one consider a marketplace to be the most important ancient spot in London? London certainly has finds that lend more to the imagination. The Temple of Mithras was dedicated to the Persian god of light and the sun, Gladiators duelled in out in the Roman Amphitheatre, and if were willing to look outside of London Colchester had a Roman circus that has just been saved.

So why did I choose a marketplace as my answer the question posed by Bloggers Challenge 2?

Simply put, the forum, in the centre of Londinium, is symbolic of the sustained commerce in Roman Britain that was necessary for Rome to hold onto the southern part of the island for hundreds of years.

Imagine if Roman Britain had an economy similar to modern day Somalia or Iraq – with never-ending rebellions and little hope of financial gain. Would the Romans have bothered to make a sustained go of it in Londinium? Might they have just handed their territory over to Boudicca when she rebelled?

“Undistinguished by the name of a colony, was much frequented by a number of merchants and trading vessels.”

The writer Tacitus wrote of Londinium that in the time of Boudicca it was-

Undistinguished by the name of a colony, was much frequented by a number of merchants and trading vessels.

A valuable clue as to why the Romans attached such importance to it. So, in short, money matters and the Romans seemed to agree, as you can see by the central location of the forum, in this map of ancient Londinium.

Unfortunately its hard to physically see its importance today. The site is covered by Leadenhall Market. You cant really access the remains unless you have a dig crew, a permit and the ability to tear down some modern day buildings.

But never fear, our Ancient World in London crewwent there anyways, along with historian Ian Smith. In this video you can see Ian describe the forum and its nearby buildings to us. “This is the heart of Roman London,” Smith said.Check it out, its quite a treat!