The Romans In LondonLondon Grid for Learning

London must have had many temples and smaller shrines where different gods were worshipped. The Romans mixed their gods from Rome with local ones, sometimes merging their names (like the goddess Sulis Minerva in the Roman town at Bath). As they moved around the empire, they took their favourite gods with them and eastern gods from Asia and Egypt were worshipped in London. Many of these were mystery religions. They were organised as secret societies and offered more than Roman religion by promising life after death.

Few temples have actually been found in London but one was for the worship of the eastern god Mithras. The god of heavenly light first came from Iran and Asia Minor. He was popular with Roman soldiers who admired his courage and with traders and officials who came from all parts of the empire. The cult was only for men and this may be why Christianity later became more popular as men, women and children were allowed into the religion.

The central part of the temple, the nave, was at a lower level, telling the story that Mithras was born in a cave. At one end there was a semi-circular area, the apse, where it is likely that a life-size scene depicting Mithras slaying the bull would have stood. This was the main belief that Mithras created everlasting life from the blood of the bull. Such a statue would have been made in plaster and dressed in clothing. It is likely that the marble head of Mithras might have been part of this scene.