The walls were built relatively late for a Roman city, around the year 200.
How were the Roman walls of London built?
London did not offer the right stone for this construction and therefore had to come from the Maidstone area by navigating the Thames, where there was a a type of clay mixed with limestone that was strong enough for the walls.
Furthermore for the Romans it was a great architectural and logistical feat. One of the boats that was used to transport the material sank and was found in 1962 near Blackfriars Bridge. London’s Roman walls incorporated all gates and a fort, Moorgate being the only gate added in the Middle Ages. The walls were almost 3 km long and 5 and a half metres high, the width varied. On average it was around 2.5 meters. There was also a 2.5 meter moat around it.
In 400 AD the walls were reinforced and about 20 bastions were added, just before the Romans withdrew. For a long time the walls were abandoned, but they were still able to defend the city as for example against the Saxons in 457.
They were later repaired and maintained and only after 1500 did the city become too big for the walls. In the second half of the 1700s the Roman walls of London became a problem with increasing traffic and were slowly demolished along with the medieval gates.
The walls can still be seen in several places in London, mainly the City. You can still see pieces from the Barbican, near the Tower of London, Cooper’s Row, Noble Street and in the Museum of London garden.
The surprising thing when you think of the city walls and gates is how small London was then compared to London now. Areas that are very central to us now, were very far from the walls and considered countryside even a few centuries ago.
Close to the walls of London is the Barbican district. The name Barbican comes from the Latin Barbecana, here there was in fact a Roman fortress that was used for centuries until its destruction in 1500.
An important archaeological discovery in Pompeii
After almost 2000 years a tomb of a freedman, Marcus Venerius, whose body rested semi embalmed was discovered this week.
To the east of the ancient city, at the necropolis of Porta Sarno, archaeologists found the intact burial of Marcus Venerius Secundio . A very special tomb, because at the time in the city the bodies were incinerated, while that of Marco Venerio is a tomb and his body is inside, lying in a corner, with the nape covered with white and semi-mummified hair. His body was kept inside a cell which allowed its preservation.
Marco Venerio, was over 60 when he died and was a freedman which means a former slave who had gained his freedom. He had been the guardian of the Temple of Venus, protector of the city of Pompeii, minister of the Augustals and then, after the liberation, Augustale, or member of a college of priests of the imperial cult. What is amazing of all this is the fact that a former slave could make enough money to buy himself a posh tomb. Two cinerary urns were found externally in the tomb enclosure, one belonging to a woman named Novia Amabilis, probably Marco Venerio’s wife. Specialists are also analysing what remains of the funeral tunic, which was made of asbestos, which may have contributed to the preservation of the body. Asbestos was often used for embalming
This new discovery is very important as it contains many details of life at the time while at the same time adding a few unanswered questions.
What is that spire outside Charing Cross station in London?
The cross was destroyed in the year 1647 by the Puritans during the English Civil War. After the construction of Charing Cross station in 1865, a reproduction of Eleanor Cross was created and placed outside the station and not in its original place in Trafalgar Square where the equestrian sculpture dedicated to Carlo.
The reproduction was created by the architect EM Barry himself who built the railway station. He used uncommon images available from the original. at the top, there are eight images of Eleonora, 4 as a queen, with imperial symbols and 4 represented as a Christian. Below are curved angels and shields with royal weapons and those of Ponthieu, Castile and Leon, all copied from still extant Eleanor Crosses who were at Waltham Cross and Northampton.
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