Roman Sites in United Kingdom

Spa and Hot Springs of Bath

The spa and hot springs of Bath are traditionally associated with the Romans. It is true that the Romans developed the baths and built a massive complex, with temples and administrative buildings, around them. However the site dates back to the Celtic period, and the baths have been in used almost continuously since the Romans left. The spa was revitalised in the 18th century and appears on the novels of Jane Austen. Tod ...
Founded: Celtic | Location: Bath, United Kingdom

Bar Hill Fort

Bar Hill Roman Fort lies near the top of Bar Hill, in a strategic location looking north over the Kelvin Valley to the Campsie Fells. It was built as one of the forts housing troops manning the Antonine Wall, which was for a while the north-west frontier of a Roman Empire. Along with Rough Castle near Falkirk, it is one of the two best locations along the Antonine Wall to gain a real impression of what the wall was like, ...
Founded: 142-144 AD | Location: Twechar, United Kingdom

Rough Castle Fort

Rough Castle Fort is a Roman fort on the Antonine Wall. The wall was built around 143 AD and stretched from Bo"ness on the River Forth to Old Kilpatrick on the River Clyde. The fort is the best preserved of the 19 forts constructed along the length of the Wall. Built against the southern rear face of the Wall, the fort was defended by 6 metre thick turf ramparts and surrounded by defensive ditches. Gateways were prov ...
Founded: 142 AD | Location: Falkirk, United Kingdom

Bearsden Roman Baths

Bearsden's Roman Baths can be found a couple of hundred yards east, or downhill, along Roman Road from Bearsden Cross, the centre of the town. A gate in a low stone wall on your left gives access to a remarkable example of the survival of ancient archeological remains despite later development. It was part of the Antonine Wall built between AD 142 to 144. One of wall forts was sited in what is today called Bearsden. Antiq ...
Founded: 142-144 AD | Location: Bearsden, United Kingdom

Watling Lodge

Watling Lodge is perhaps the best-preserved section of Roman Antonine Wall ditch. It can be viewed to both the east and west of Watling Lodge along Tamfourhill Road in Falkirk. Here the ditch has survived to almost its original dimensions, giving the best view of how it may have looked in Roman times. Near this portion of ditch, in the garden of Watling Lodge was an Antonine Wall fortlet, but no visible traces survive. A ...
Founded: 142 AD | Location: Falkirk, United Kingdom

Croy Hill

On a high plateau on the east side of Croy Hill, North Lanarkshire, is the site of a Roman fort and probable temporary camp on the Antonine Wall. The fort, fortlet, and temporary camp are not visible on the ground today, but the Antonine Wall ditch is easily identifiable across much of Croy Hill. You can see where the Romans had to cut through solid rock to create the ditch. Two small raised platforms known as ‘expa ...
Founded: 100-200 AD | Location: North Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

Seabegs Wood

Seabegs Wood is a woodland offering impressive views of the Antonine Wall ditch and rampart, and is also important as the site of a Roman fortlet. It is also the best place to see the visible remains of the military way, the Roman road that connected all of the forts along the Antonine Wall. The military way is located about 30m south of the Antonine Wall rampart, and can be traced as a 7m-wide cambered mound with a visib ...
Founded: 142 AD | Location: Bonnybridge, United Kingdom

Castlecary Roman Fort

Castlecary is like many other settlements in the area tied to the Roman history of Scotland. The route of the Antonine Wall passes close to the village. A Roman camp existed at Castlecary, first constructed around the year 80 AD, possibly during the fourth campaign season of governor Gnaeus Julius Agricola. Excavated in 1902, the Roman fort was probably devastated by the 2nd century. Castlecary is one of only two forts a ...
Founded: 80 AD | Location: Castlecary, United Kingdom

Westerwood Roman Fort

At the west end of Cumbernauld Airport runway is the site of a Roman fort on the former Westerwood farm. Very little is visible on the ground today, but portions of the fort’s southern defensive ditches may be traced as subtle hollows within the field. The fort at Westerwood is the fourth smallest known along the Antonine Wall, with an internal area of about 0.8ha, situated on a steep decline toward the north. The ...
Founded: 142 AD | Location: North Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.