Our Roman Wall tour through the City of London this morning opened my eyes to just how great a stamp the Romans left on not only the British Isles as a whole, but the city of London itself. Previous to this walk, I had been under the impression that once they pulled out the only things of Italian origin left in the city were those that had been built specifically by the legions in residence. Perhaps I should have considered that the Romans had been occupying this piece of land for several centuries, much longer than living memory, and so their architecture and culture were all the citizens of Londinium knew. Of course they would have continued to build in the style to which they were accustomed. Despite the Norman conquest in 1066, the city’s Roman roots continue to show through. Several buildings, most notably churches, in the area of Old London are blatently Roman in design. One goes so far to look remarkably like the Pantheon from the front, despite the steeple rising in the back. Even Christopher Wren’s memorial to the Great Fire looks remarkably like the Column of Trajan in Rome, complete with internal stairs and a overlook. And these buildings are not the
left overs of the Roman occupation, but rather creations of the 16th and 17th centuries, and while we no longer see forums or bath houses, we only need to look to realize that the founders of this city are not as distant as we thought.