The Romans In LondonLondon Grid for Learning

We used to learn about how the Romans lived in large stone villas with fine mosaic floors and underfloor heating (hypocaust). However, archaeological excavations have shown that living in Roman London was not like that. Most houses were cramped, noisy and damp. They had few windows and would have used hearths for both heating the room and cooking the food. They often only had one main room where they lived, ate and slept with a shop or workshop attached to the house. After a while, richer families wanted something better and could afford to live in stone houses with tiled roofs. The best rooms may have had mosaic floors and some rooms had underfloor heating.

A busy town like London had many people living there – as many as 25,000 when London was at its biggest. People needed to be able to cook and eat food, to be able to get clothes to wear and buy things to enable them to live in the Roman way. Life would have been hard. Most Roman Londoners had to work long hours, rising at dawn and going about their work, stopping only for a lunchtime snack. The main meal was eaten in the evening once work was over. Their diet was reasonably healthy, with some meat and fish but mainly with vegetables and pulses cooked as stews. They did not eat too much sugary food as honey was used to sweeten dishes.