Perhaps the most famous remnants of Roman presence in Britain, Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall continue to be some of the most recognisable sites in the UK, and an unmissable part of any discovery of Ancient Rome in the UK. Both walls are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites, spanning respectively 73 and 39 miles. Construction of Hadrian’s Wall began around 122 AD, as a defensive fortification of Britannia, while the Antonine Wall was later built in 142 AD in what is today central Scotland as a turf fortification.
For more than three centuries, Britain was under complete Roman control. From the annexation of the territory by Claudius in 43 AD, until the end of Roman rule in Britain around 410 AD, Roman armies took over the entirety of the English and Welsh territories, managing to extend their presence into southern Scotland. And although Britain isn’t the first place people tend to think of when conjuring up images of Ancient Rome, there are plenty of traces of Roman presence on the isle that are still visible today. Let us guide you through some of the most interesting Roman sites around the UK, each with their unique characteristics and stories.
Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall
Both sites are fascinating and can be seen at various points. If you want great views of Hadrian’s Wall, head to Chesters Roman Fort, Housesteads Roman Fort, Birdoswald Roman Fort or Corbridge Roman Town. Visitors can also choose to go on a coach tour of the Wall to see it in its entirety.
The Antonine Wall provides a fantastic walking or cycling route for visitors. Find out more information about walking and cycling along the Antonine Wall here.
Bignor Roman Villa
Located in West Sussex, this Roman courtyard Villa provides an intimate look into the life of a Roman family living in Britain. What is most interesting about Bignor Roman Villa is its stunning mosaic flooring. They are some of the finest and most well preserved Roman mosaics found in Great Britain. The villa is thought to have been abandoned at the end of the Roman presence in Britain, before being discovered by a local farmer named George Tupper in 1811 and excavated by John Hawkins.
The villa is open to visitors at different times, depending on when you choose to visit so please check the website in advance to see the seasonal opening times. Standard adult admission costs £10. There is an on-site car park for visitors to use when visiting.
Where to stay near Bignor Roman Villa?
The White Horse Inn is a delightfully cosy inn located a short drive from the villa. It is an ideal place to stay overnight as you visit the villa and the area.
The White Horse InnA lovely inn located in Pulborough.
In the northwestern county of Anglesly in Wales, stands what is left of a small Roman fortlet. Fun fact, this fortlet is one of only three walled Roman forts left in Europe. The fort is believed to have been built sometime in the 4th century as part of a network or maritime defences in order to protect against potential Irish sea raiders and invaders. Visitors can observe the very well preserved thick walls of the structure, as well as what remains of four watchtowers. In the spirit of historical recycling, a 7th century church was erected within the walls of the fortlet, making for another interesting site to visit, although admittedly not very Roman.
The site is open to visitors daily all year round from 10am to 4pm and admission is free! The site is easily reached by car, here are the exact coordinates.
Bearsden Bath House
This small town just north of Glasgow is bursting with Roman history. Traversed by the Antonine Wall, there are many vestiges of Roman Scotland still present in the town, but what stands out is the remains of a 2nd century Bath House. Bathing was a serious affair to the Romans, as reflected by the size of this site. Hidden away under home structures, this fortified complex came to light when it was discovered and excavated in 1973. A truly amazing glimpse into Roman life along the Antonine Wall, at the frontier of Rome’s Empire, the Bearsden Bath House is a must-see. The site is open daily all year round and completely free for visitors. Access to the site by car is easy, especially when travelling from Glasgow.
Roman Baths in Bath
A city named after its Roman heritage, there’s no use talking about Roman Britain without mentioning the Roman Baths in the city of Bath. Constructed in 60-70 AD, these impressively well preserved Roman Baths truly show off the magnitude of Rome’s occupancy of Britain. The baths continued to be used and modified throughout history, but when visitors walk through the site, they are still transported back to the Roman period. Moreover, visitors also get to see a lot of the artefacts that were found on the site, giving an even more complete picture of Roman Britain.
Opening times of the baths depend on when you plan to visit, so please check the website in advance for this information. Standard weekend adult tickets cost £23.50 and we do recommend booking these in advance. Accessibility measures are in place throughout the site, you can find out more about those here.
Where to stay near the Roman Baths?
Located only a short walk from the Baths, the Abbey Hotel is a contemporary hotel with a timeless feel to it. It is an ideal place to stay when visiting the city and of course, the Roman Baths.