The Romans In LondonLondon Grid for Learning
  • 120000 BC

    Elephants, lions, hippos and rhinos roam the Trafalgar Square area. They are hunted by early humans passing through the London area in search of food.

    Image: Reconstruction drawing of a Palaeolithic straight tusked elephant (Derek Lucas).

  • 3100 BC

    People are clearing land and starting to farm and live in settlements in the London area.

    Image: Woman's head reconstructed from a skull from a skeleton found at Shepperton (Caroline Wilkinson).

  • 500 BC

    Tribal groups are living on farms and in hill forts in the London area. They are skilled in metal-working and traded objects show links with Europe.

    Image: Iron-Age iron dagger in a bronze sheath. It was probably made on the continent.

  • AD 43

    The Roman army invades Britain with 40,000 soldiers and they cross the Thames in the London area. Roman London (Londinium) does not begin for another few years.

    Image: Reconstruction of a legionary soldier (Derek Lucas).

  • AD 60

    Boudica, a tribal queen leading the Iceni and Trinovantes, destroys the first town.

    Image: Statue of Boudica (Boadicea), designed by Thomas Thorneycroft and erected in 1902 on Westminster Bridge to celebrate a great British queen.

  • AD 200

    Roman London is now subject to attack due to provincial unrest and rebel armies. A stone wall is built to defend the town, stretching from what is now the Tower of London to Blackfriars.

    Image: The city wall, as it is now displayed at Tower Hill.

  • AD 375

    The town is no longer thriving and Roman London is nearing its end. Wealthy people are still living there. One, a woman originally from Rome, is buried in one of London's Roman cemeteries (now Spitalfields).

    Image: Head of the Spitalfields Roman woman reconstructed for the BBC TV programme Meet the Ancestors (Caroline Wilkinson).

  • AD 604

    Roman London has become a ghost town and the East Saxons rule the London area. A church dedicated to St Paul is built at Ludgate.

    Image: St Paul's Cathedral as it is today. It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built in 1711, after the previous church was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.

  • AD 700

    Saxons are living in a new settlement, called Lundenwic. It is built in the Aldwych, Strand, Covent Garden area of London.

    Image: Ornate copper brooch decorated with gold wire and red garnets in a star-shaped design. It was found in a woman's grave at Covent Garden in the centre of the early Saxon town. Such an expensive piece of jewellery would have been worn by a rich and influential woman, possibly even a member of the royal family.

  • AD 886

    The earlier Saxon town, Lundenwic, has been abandoned. King Alfred, a West Saxon king, has driven off the Vikings who were attacking the London area and moves his people back inside the Roman city wall which still stands. Londinium is now called Lundenburg.

    Image: In 880, King Alfred (sometimes known as Alfred the Great) issued this silver penny with his name, AELFRED REX, shown on it.

  • AD 1077

    William the Conqueror, the first Norman king, builds his palace and fortress at the Tower of London although the main Royal centre remains at Westminster. King Harold had died at the battle of Hastings and the Norman leader, William the Conqueror, became king of England in 1066.

    Image: The White Tower of the Tower of London as it is today, towering over the River Thames. It is the only surviving part of the Norman palace.

  • AD 1350

    The first epidemic of the plague, known as the Black Death, arrives from Europe killing half of the people of London. The dead are buried in new cemeteries outside the town. About 10,000 graves have been found buried at West Smithfield.

    Image: There were many outbreaks of the plague and there was no treatment for the symptoms and people died painful deaths as shown in an illustration of the time.

  • AD 1476

    William Caxton sets up the first printing press in Westminster in 1476. His workshop prints an illustration of London, showing the house roofs and church spires.

    Image: The first printed illustration of London that survives from 'The Chronicle of England' by William Caxton. It was reprinted by Wynkyn de Worde in 1497 who had taken over his workshop.

  • AD 1536

    King Henry VIII orders the abbeys and monasteries to be closed down. The Pope had not recognised his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and he declared himself to be Head of the Church of England.

    Image: Image of Henry VIII (King 1509 - 1547), to be seen displayed in the White Tower of the Tower of London.

  • AD 1599

    The Globe Theatre opens for plays, some of which are written by William Shakespeare.

    Image: The building, as it is today, is a reconstruction based on what is known about Elizabethan theatres. It opened in Southwark 1997 near to the site of the original Globe Theatre.

  • AD 1649

    King Charles I is executed at Whitehall. King Charles I with his army of Cavaliers and Parliament with its army of Roundheads were at war for 7 years before the king's execution.

    Image: Charles I on horseback by Anthony van Dyck.

  • AD 1666

    The Great Fire of London destroys a large part of the City of London because so many buildings were made of wood that burnt easily.

    Image: The Monument as it is today. It was built in 1677 to commemorate the Great Fire of London. The tall stone column, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, is topped by a golden flame.

  • AD 1694

    The Bank of England is set up to act as the government's central bank to oversee and protect the country's finances.

    Image: The Bank of England as it is today. Known as 'The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street', the original building was rented in Cheapside before it moved to the current site.

  • AD 1762

    King George III buys Buckingham House and extends the building so that it can become his private residence.

    Image: Buckingham Palace as it is today. It became an official royal palace for Queen Victoria in 1837.

  • AD 1805

    Admiral Lord Nelson dies at the Battle of Trafalgar when Britain is at war with the French and Spanish.

    Image: Nelson's Column as it is today. It was built in 1843 to commemorate the great British hero who died in a naval battle.

  • AD 1859

    The Palace of Westminster (including the Houses of Parliament) and Big Ben are built.

    Image: Big Ben as it is today. The buildings were constructed after a major fire in 1834 and the Clock Tower houses the bell, Big Ben.

  • AD 1894

    Tower Bridge opens. The bridge was one of several needed to ease traffic needing to cross the Thames. Unlike the bridges upstream of London Bridge, it needed to open to let tall ships through to reach the docks.

    Image: Tower Bridge as it is today. After a public competition, it took 8 years to build the bridge and is the largest bridge of its type ever built.

  • AD 1911

    Women from the Suffragette movement fight to get the vote. Although the Suffragettes rioted, were imprisoned and went on hunger strike, women did not win the same voting rights as men until 1928.

    Image: Photograph of the time showing a suffragette raising the issue of votes for women.

  • AD 1956

    The red London bus is introduced. It had a driver and a conductor who collected the tickets.

    Image: The London Routemaster bus was used in London from 1956 until 2005.

  • AD 1999

    The London Eye is opened to celebrate the new millennium. It is the tallest ferris wheel in Europe.

    Image: The London Eye, or Millennium Wheel, as it is today. It was built to celebrate the Millennium (the year 2000).

  • AD 2008

    Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport opens, following archaeological excavations on the site which found evidence of both prehistoric and Roman activity.

    Image: Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport as it is today with flights to numerous countries. It is the busiest airport in Britain.