The Roman Fort Gatehouse

Posted: April 3, 2015 in History, London, Roman History, UK
Tags: , ,

The Romans built a stone fort in the NW corner of the Londinium settlement. Work appears to have commenced around the year 120AD, some forty years after the conquest. This may have been in conjunction with the visit of the Emperor Hadrian, who came to Britain in AD 122. It is known that similar large construction projects were undertaken in other parts of the empire in conjunction with the Emperor’s visits

LOcation of Roman fort c122AD

LOcation of Roman fort c122AD

Plan of Roman fort c122AD

Plan of Roman fort c122AD

Unlike most Roman forts it was unlikely that the main aim was of a defensive nature and the fort was probably used to house men on secondment from other units who were serving as the Governors personal guard or on other administrative or construction duties in the Londinium area. It seems to have had a lot of storage space and so may also have acted as a warehouse before supplies were shipped to units in other parts of the country.

Its walls were 4.5m high and 1.2m wide and each wall was approx 200m long. The area of the fort was approx 12 acres. It is estimated that it could house approx 1000 men and it is likely that these were made up of both infantry and cavalry.It had four gatehouses, to the west and the north leading out of the city and to the south and the east giving access to the city area.

The forts life was short-lived however and when the new city wall was built in 200AD, the west and north walls of the old fort were widened and incorporated into it. Within 20 years the fort had been decommissioned and the eastern and southern walls demolished.

Incorporation of fort into Roman City walls c200AD

Incorporation of fort into Roman City walls c200AD

Artists impression of Fort c200AD

Artists impression of Fort c200AD

The only remaining part of the Roman fort is part of the western gatehouse which is now preserved in a room under a new road. It was found in 1956 when the new road was being built and is accessible twice a month on a guided tour from the Museum of London, which is adjacent to the site. For details see http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/london-wall/whats-on/events-calendar/?etype=Tours

Artists drawing of the Western gatehouse showing current remains of gatehouse

Artists drawing of the Western gatehouse showing current remains of gatehouse

Model of possible appearance of Western Gatehouse

Model of possible appearance of Western Gatehouse

Guardroom in Western Gatehouse

Guardroom in Western Gatehouse

Remains of guardroom of Western Gateway

Remains of guardroom of Western Gatehouse

Bases of central pillars of gatehouse

Bases of central pillars of Gatehouse

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.