The Romans In LondonLondon Grid for Learning

Londoners also enjoyed music and played board games at home, at the baths and in the local taverns. Musical instruments consisted of pipes, stringed instruments (lyres), drums and tambourines. Simple pipes were made of hollowed animal bone with drilled finger-holes although we know that the musicians could play more complicated pipes and that they could play two at one time. Little evidence for these musical instruments survive and we have to rely on sculptures and wall paintings to show both what musical instruments were like and also those games that children like to play that do not need many objects to play with, like fishing or even hide-and-seek.

Board and dice games were particularly popular, especially if there were bets taken on who won. Board games were played using counters made of a variety of materials – pottery, glass or bone counters were the most popular. Some of the counters were even made by using a broken piece of pottery chipped to shape. The boards would have been made of wood or stone and rarely survive. The types of board games played are not that different to some games, like backgammon, today. Dice were usually made of wood, bone or stone and were very similar to our dice. Gambling on throwing dice got so bad in the Roman Empire that the Emperor Hadrian banned it.