EBK Activity Sheets


Roman Towns in Britain
Civilization reaches Britain

Calleva Atrebatum (at Silchester, Hampshire): A Typical Roman Town in Britain -  Nash Ford Publishing

  • The Iron Age Britons lived on small farms, or in hillforts. There were no towns.
  • In the late Iron Age, some tribes had capitals, but these were little more than tribal villages. The Romans called them 'oppida' (plural of 'oppidum').
  • The Romans built proper towns with a planned street-grid and lots of different buildings, big and small:
    • Town Houses - for people to live in, some for rich merchants
    • Shops - for selling all sorts of things
    • Workshops - for making all sorts of things
    • Snack Bars - for eating in (Fast-food Roman style).
    • Temples - for worshipping the gods (including churches in later times)
    • Public Baths - for relaxing, exercising and keeping clean
    • Inns - for people from out-of-town to stay in, including Imperial postmen
    • Theatres & Amphitheatres - for entertainments from actors and gladiators. Camulodunum (Colchester) even had a circus (race track for horses).
  • There were also 'mod-cons' never seen in Britain before, like piped water supplies, drinking fountains and toilets.
  • Each of the major tribes was given civitas capital (like a county town) with a basilica (town hall and law court - the big building in the picture with all the windows) and a forum (market-place - the big courtyard with the colourful stalls next to the basilica).
  • Other towns grew up around industrial establishments, important religious centres or outside military forts.
  • In later years, big strong walls and gateways were built around towns to protect them from foreign attacks.


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