The Romans In LondonLondon Grid for Learning

The remains of the stone west gateway of the Roman fort were found when a new road was built in 1959. This busy road was called London Wall and was named after the city wall that survives nearby. Few people know that the remains of a gateway of the Roman fort lie in a concrete chamber underneath the road.

This rectangular fort was built in about AD120 about the time that the Emperor Hadrian visited London. Hadrian disliked soldiers living amongst the townspeople and he may have ordered the fort to be built away from the main town. There would have been a gateway in each of the four sides but only one has survived. The west gate of the fort had two guardrooms, either side of a double road. The fort would have had several official buildings in the centre – the main headquarters, the army commander's residence, a granary where food was stored to feed the soldiers as well as armour workshops.

The fort would have held a mix of soldiers – some were legionary soldiers, others were auxiliary soldiers. There would have been barracks for the soldiers to stay in and stables for horses used by the cavalry, military scouts and messengers. The fort had been in use for about 100 years when the authorities decided that London needed to be protected by a city wall. They made two of the existing stone fort walls (4 metres high and 1 metre thick) higher and wider, so that they looked like the rest of the city wall.