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قراءة كتاب Memorials of Old London. Volume I

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‏اللغة: English
Memorials of Old London. Volume I

Memorials of Old London. Volume I

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 6

governor probably lived in his Pretorium, where, at the north-west corner, close to the celebrated London Stone, remains of pavements and buildings have been found. At the south-eastern corner, too, but at a lower level, another pavement, which still exists under the Corn Exchange, may have been part of a bath. There are no remnants of a church or a temple, but some antiquaries fancied they saw relics of a Roman basilica, or judgment hall, among the fragments of masonry removed for the station. There were no burials within the walls, but they begin, even among the pavements and villas, just outside the limits marked by the wall of the Pretorium. That it was defended by the stream of Walbrook on the west, and by a wide fosse on the northern side, seems certain. The Mansion House, in 1738, was built on piles "in a ditch," according to Stukeley. This fosse probably communicated with the Walbrook, and from what Stow says, seems to have had a certain amount of stream through it. "Langborne Ward," he says, "is so called of a long borne of sweete water, which of old time breaking out into Fenchurch streete, ran down the same streete and Lombard streete to the West end of St. Mary Woolnothe's Church, where turning south, and breaking it selfe into many small shares, rilles or streames, it left the name of Shareborne, or south borne lane (as I have read) because it ranne south to the river of Thames."

Stow's interpretations of names often read like bad jokes, not to say bad puns. We remember his Matfelon, his Sherehog, his Cripplegate and other curiosities of the kind. Sherborn Lane has now disappeared, but there can be little doubt the "burn" or "bourne" was a relic of the fosse of the first Roman London. It divides two wards, so was as ancient as those wards—namely, Cornhill and Langborne; and if there was any stream through it fell into Walbrook, between the parish church of St. Mary on the Woollen Hithe and St. Mary of the Woolchurch Haw. This corner, then near the modern Mansion House, was the north-western corner of the little fort, Dowgate was at the south-western, and Billingsgate at the south-eastern corner, while Mincing Lane, perhaps at Fenchurch Street, completed the rectangle. What formed the defence on this, the eastern side, we have no evidence, but it was probably one of the "shares, rilles, or streames" which so puzzled Stow. The Walbrook was 248 feet wide.

Roman Sandals (found in London).Roman Sandals (found in London).

It is evident, then, that the Roman London Bridge was well protected, but the town which grew round it lay open to any attack. Such a contingency was the rebellion of Boadicea, when Suetonius abandoned the bridge fort and open town and held to Verulam and Camalodunum, which had walls. We do not hear anything about the repairs of the bridge when the rebellion was over. It probably, as in so many other places, consisted of a few piers of massive masonry, and great beams, probably wide apart, formed the roadway. The line of coins found in the Thames may have been dropped as offerings to the river-god, or merely by careless passengers. They dated back to republican times, and ended only with the last years of the Roman occupation, long after the introduction of Christianity. It may be mentioned here that in the catalogue of Roach Smith (1854), from which we have borrowed some illustrations, is an account of a box which had perished, but which had contained tiers of iron coins, plated with silver, oxydised together in masses, being obviously base money coined to pass current in Britain in the reign of Claudius, A.D. 41. It was discovered in King William Street, almost the centre of the old fort. Forged denarii of lead or brass formed the larger part of those found in the Thames. The bridge was probably in a line with Botolph Lane, the old London Bridge of Peter of Colechurch being higher up, and the present London Bridge higher again. The Roman Bridge, frequently repaired, and frequently, too, broken down—as when Anlaf, the Dane, sailed up the Thames with his fleet in 993—was finally removed in favour of the nineteen arches and a drawbridge, which subsisted until 1831. (The site of the Roman Bridge is discussed in a paper on "Recent Discoveries in Roman London," in volume lx. of Archælogia.)

The Gates of the City: Aldersgate and Bridgegate.The Gates of the City: Aldersgate and Bridgegate.

Such, then, was Roman London during the greater part of the Roman occupation of Britain—as it is still, a city of suburbs.

Of the date of the building of the wall we have no certainty. A recent writer finds fault with my cautious statement in Historic London that "in 350 London had no wall," and would substitute 360. The wall was certainly built about that time or a little later, but may have been begun long before. It is evident that such a piece of work was not completed in a single year, even under the Roman Emperors. Perhaps—it is too easy to form theories—Constantine (Stow says Helena) projected it and left it to be finished by his successors. It had been completed by the reign of Theodosius, about A.D. 368.

The course of the new wall, according to Stow, was from the Tower to Aldgate, thence to Bishopsgate, and from Bishopsgate to Aldersgate, with a postern at Cripplegate. Next came Newgate, and Ludgate was towards the Fleet—the wall ending at the Thames. The whole length was two miles and a half and 608 feet. Stow did not know that several of the gates he named—Aldgate, Cripplegate, Aldersgate, and Ludgate—were not Roman. Nor did he know that Ludgate means a postern, and Crepulgeat a covered way, both these gates being probably of late construction, though possibly of the time of Alfred. The exact site of the wall and the two landward gates seems to be indicated by the old ward boundaries, but modern investigators have neglected them. There was another Roman settlement, namely, at Westminster, where the abbey stands on the site of some older buildings. Roman concrete forms the foundation of the older part of the church and the dark cloisters. The pavement of a dwelling was found under the nave, and a sarcophagus, bearing a rudely carved cross, showed that the town was not walled. The Romans possibly built here on account of the ford, and we may be sure that at times, when the only bridge was under repair or unfinished, the crossing here for the ancient road, which the Saxons named the Watling Street, was found convenient. There is mention of the buildings on Thorney in a charter at the British Museum (Kemble, D.L.V.), apparently a thirteenth century forgery, but of interest as showing that a tradition survived. King Eadgar is made to say that a temple of abomination had been destroyed to make way for the church of St. Peter. Such a temple, if one existed, was more probably Saxon than Roman.

As to the houses and buildings of Roman London within the walls we know very little. Sir W. Tite enumerated a large number of mosaic pavements, some of them of considerable size, and scattered over a wide area, but apparently not marking any fine or magnificent public buildings. Stukeley made a plan showing where, in his opinion at least, remains of such buildings should be found; but, to put it briefly, remains of the kind have been conspicuous by their absence on