The Online Library of Knowledge

History of London

Roman London

Map of Londinium, 2nd–5th centuries ADMap of Londinium, 2nd–5th centuries ADLondon was founded by the Romans, conquerors of Britain around 2000 years ago. Although there is evidence of scattered Celtic settlements in the area, the first major settlement, Londinium, was built by the Romans soon after the invasion of AD 43. They probably named it after a British Celtic placename, Londonjon. Before the Roman settlement, the River Thames (somewhat wider than it is today) meandered through a sparsely populated area of marshes and woodland.

Reconstruction of an Iron Age farm buildingReconstruction of an Iron Age farm building


About 120,000 years ago, during the Pleistocene Ice Ages, woolly mammoths and rhinoceroses roamed across the valley of the Thames in the area that is now London. They were hunted by early humans. Much later, around 6500 years ago, people started to farm the land, make weapons and tools, and build small villages in the area. Archaeologists have found the remains of a wooden bridge near Vauxhall, which was probably built in about 1500 BC. It may have crossed the Thames, or just led to an island in the river which has now been lost. By the beginning of the Iron Age, around 650 BC, what is now the sprawling metropolis of Greater London was a patchwork of woodland, marshland, mudflats, fields and scattered farming communities.



Around the year 368 AD, Londinium was renamed Augusta. This was a common name given to Roman provincial capitals.

© 2020 Q-files Ltd. All rights reserved. Switch to Mobile