Tag Archives: Roman Britain

Understanding Roman Britain

Roman Britain Workshop Day

Roman Britain Workshop

Roman Britain Workshop

Who were the Romans and they did they come to Britain? Why was the Roman army so powerful? How did Britain change under Roman rule? How has the way we live today been influenced by the Romans?

The Roman Britain Workshop Day investigates the Roman conquest and life in Roman Britain. Famous people, important dates, events and places.

Why did Hadrian build a wall across northern Britain? Who built it? Who guarded? Why did the Romans eventually abandon Britain?

This workshop day is aimed at KS2 children. It is run in school and provides a good alternative to a school trip.

Schools in Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Doncaster, Harrogate, Wetherby areas and some North Yorkshire schools may like this.

For more information please contact us now.


Who Ruled Roman Britain?

How Rome ruled Britain


The Emperor Hadrian

When Britain became a province of the Roman Empire it was ruled by a Governor. As Britain was a military province the Governor was appointed by the Emperor.

The official title of the Governor as legatus Augusti pro praetore and he would be a man of senatorial rank. Appointments were usually for three or four years.

His duties included:

  • Military Commander in Chief
  • Chief Judge ( with the power of life or death over citizens )
  • Head of civil administration
  • Maintaining relationships with friendly chieftains and kings

The Governor was the Emperors representative and bore responsibility for implementing the directives of central government.

Book a Roman Day for your school.


Roman Coins: Senatus Consulto

Roman coin

The letters SC appear on this coin.

Roman Coin Propaganda

Roman coins were used for propaganda purposes. Coins were issued following great military victories or to let people know about important events for example.

Although the emperor had absolute power the letters SC were often inscribed on roman coins. This stands for “senatus consulto” meaning with permission of the senate. This was propaganda to give the impression that the senate still had authority whilst in reality it had none.

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Romanization of Britain: Towns

Types of Roman Towns


Roman Roads in Britain

Roman Roads in Britain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before the arrival of the Romans Britain was made up of tribal areas with hill forts, settlements and farms connected by ancient pathways and tracks. Most Britons lived in circular “roundhouses”  and there was no uniformity in the positioning or layout of dwellings. By contrast Roman towns were laid out in a grid pattern with a central area and containing certain characteristic building which were common to all Roman towns throughout the empire. Here are the main types:


These were larger towns occupied mainly by Roman citizens ( often retired army personnel ). In Britain there were four, Colchester, Gloucester, Lincoln and York.


These towns were occupied by provincials but were under direct Roman control.


The civitas ( the commonest and possibly most important type ) were self governing by local people and were often based on existing tribal centres. The local chieftain or tribal leaders became the civic leaders and were responsible for implementing Roman customs and laws.


Smaller settlements that were located outside of Roman army forts or legionary bases. They provided homes for camp followers, soldiers families and also shops, taverns and tradesmen supplying the army’s needs.

Characteristic buildings in Roman towns

The following buildings were common to all larger Roman towns:

  • Forum or market place consisting of a large open area where people could gather to hear important news or announcements. Hold meetings, socialize and do business. There were usually shops round the sides.
  • Temple (s) to the gods where public religious ceremonies took place and where individuals could pay homage.
  • Basilica, a large building used for civic administration, money exchange, legal dispute and trials.
  • Public Baths, for bathing, exercising, having a drink or food and socializing.
  • Amphitheatre for entertainment such as gladiator fights ( there is only limited evidence of this in Britain ), chariot / horse racing animal hunts, theatre shows, military training and ceremonies etc.

Most towns had paved roads a water supply and some kind of sanitation.
Although during the early occupation buildings were of wood. Once the Romans were established in an area and local resources could be harnessed  important buildings were constructed from  locally quarried stone.
In Roman Britain as elsewhere most people did not live in towns. The majority of the population lived in the countryside. Villas were used to control and maximise agricultural resources. There were many villas in the south and east of Britain which were the most important farming areas. There were less in the military zones and hill country of the north. Villas varied in size from quite small to palatial ( Fishbourne ).
Although the arrival of the Romans had a massive impact on governance and the economy the vast majority of the population would have been unaffected. They continued to live in their  settlements as before. They would however have to pay taxes and be subject to Roman law.
Book a Roman Day for your school.