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been preserved of his voyage, these circumstances raise a reasonable presumption that it may have been the centre of the commerce of that early period, as it certainly was of later times. At all events it is necessary that this Greek influence, existing at least as early as the 4th century before Christ, and possibly long before, should be duly taken into account in estimating the condition of British civilisation during the ages preceding the Roman conquest in the ist century after Christ.
Moreover, all the tribes or nations settled in Britain had migrated thither from the Continent; separately, and at different times; and each must have brought with it that amount of civilisation which was possessed by the parent tribe at the date of the migration. The Celtic tribes, as shown by the evidence of language, belonged to the Aryan stock; and there is therefore no ground for supposing that the British tribes (especially in the southern parts of the island) were not sufficiently advanced to carry on a foreign commerce, even long before the age of Pytheas.
ROMAN LONDON When we come to deal with Roman London we find abundance of facts, but also much difference of opinion as to the bearing of these facts.
It is very important to remember that the Roman occupation of Britain extended over a period equal to that which has elapsed since the middle of Henry VIII.'s reign. During these centuries (A.D. 43-409) there was ample time for growth, and the outlines of the City were frequently enlarged. The earliest Roman London was probably a very small place, little more in fact than a military fort for the purpose of guarding the ferry or bridge over the Thames, and thus keeping up the through communication of the north and south of Britain. Most probably the embankments on the Kent and Essex shores, which have so considerably changed the appearance of the lower reaches of the river, were thrown up by Roman engineers, although this view has been disputed.
The earliest settlement probably extended as far as Tower Hill on the east, and there is reason to believe that it did not take in any ground to the west of Leadenhall. The excavations at the latter place have thrown great light upon the early history of the City. The foundation walls of a basilica have been discovered, and from the time that was built until the present day the ground has always been devoted to public uses. How far north the first wall was placed it is difficult to guess.? One help towards a settlement of the question may be found in the discovery of burial-places. As it was illegal in Roman times to bury within the walls, we are forced to the conclusion that the places where these sepulchral remains have been found were at one time extramural. 1 See Evans's Coins of the Ancient Britons, and Elton's Origins of English History.
2 Archæologia, vol. xlviii. p. 226.
Now no funeral relics have been found between Gracechurch Street and the Tower. The northern boundary has been drawn just below Lombard Street, and of this area the same may be said. The second extension of the City westwards was probably to Walbrook, an increase which the late Mr. Alfred Tylor set at 455 yards.
Even so central a position as that of the site of the Royal Exchange was evidently at one time outside the walls. When Sir William Tite was engaged on the foundations of the new building, he found that the ground had been used as a gravel-pit, it then became a dirty pond, and lastly was used as a receptacle for refuse. At that time it was probably just outside the walls.
Cemeteries once existed in Cheapside, on the site of St. Paul's and close to Newgate, and at various other places known to have been included in the later Roman London.
Neither Strabo nor Pliny the elder alludes to London, although each of them wrote on Britain, and the name does not occur in literature until it was used by Tacitus. Then it appears to have become a place of considerable importance. Tacitus distinctly says that London had not in A.D. 61 been dignified with the name of a colony.3 Aulus Plautius, the Roman general, sailed to Britain in A.D. 43, and in the year 50 Caractacus was captured. It was not until some years after that the Romans permanently settled themselves in Britain. Tacitus speaks of Londinium as the chief residence of merchants and the great mart of trade, and one cannot help wondering how it had attained that position in so short a time if it had no existence in pre
-Roman times. Still, although the historian so describes it, we know that it was not in his time the equal of Verulamium or Camulodunum. Whatever may have been its rank at this time, we have the satisfaction of finding an historical fact connected with it. The Roman general, Paullinus Suetonius, marched rapidly from Wales to put down an insurrection, but finding Londinium to be unfitted for a basis of operations, he left it to the mercy of Boadicea. She destroyed the merchant city and killed the inhabitants in large numbers.
When the British power was crushed, then Londinium asserted itself with such success that we find it appearing in the Itinerary of Antoninus, either as a starting-point or terminus, in nearly half the routes described in the portion devoted to Britain.
There can be no doubt that Southwark was also a Roman settlement. Ptolemy (who lived in the reigns of Trajan, Hadrian, and Antoninus Pius) places Londinium on the south side of the Thames. This, of course, may be a blunder on his part, but it is more likely that he referred to Southwark, which apparently had a distinct origin from the Londinium of the north bank of the river.
In the latest Roman enclosure the line of the wall ran straight from the Tower to Aldgate, where it bent round somewhat to Bishopsgate.
1 Tite's Catalogue of Antiquities found in the excavations at the New Royal Exchange, 1848, p. xli. 2 lbid.
3 Annal., lib. xiv. sect. 33.
On the east it was bordered by the district subsequently called the Minories and Houndsditch. The line from Bishopsgate ran eastward to St. Giles's churchyard, where it turned to the south, as far as Falcon Square ; again westerly by Aldersgate round the site of Christ's Hospital towards Giltspur Street, then south by the Old Bailey to Ludgate, and then down to the Thames, where Mr. E. Freshfield suggests that there stood on the site of Baynard's Castle a Roman fortress. Mr. Roach Smith pointed out that this enclosure gives dimensions far greater than those of any other Roman town in Britain. There can be no doubt that within the walls there was much unoccupied space, for with the one exception of the larger circuit made south of Ludgate in 1276, for the benefit of the Black Friars, the line of the walls remained until the Great Fire.
The Thames formed the natural barrier on the south, but the Romans do not appear to have been content with this, for they built a wall here in addition. Portions of this wall have been discovered at various times.
It is very difficult even to guess when this third wall was erected, but it is not improbable that it was early in the ad century, and this wall enclosed a cemetery near Newgate. Sir William Tite, in describing the tessellated pavement found in 1854 on the site of the Excise Office (Bishopsgate Street), expresses the opinion that the finished character of the pavement points to a period of security and wealth, and fixes on the reign of Hadrian (A.D. 117-138), to which the silver coin found on the floor belongs, as the date of its foundation. The cemetery near Newgate just alluded to, remains of which were found by the late Mr. Alfred Tylor when rebuilding his extensive premises in Newgate Street, must have been in use at a very early period, for a coin of Claudius, struck A.D. 41, was found in a stone vase. Among the sepulchral remains discovered were several ossuaria or leaden vessels for the reception of the calcined bones of the dead. Little attention had been paid to these objects until Mr. Roach Smith a few years ago made them a special subject of inquiry. He referred to the wealth of the British mines as one of the chief incentives to the conquest of the country by the Romans, and he pointed out that the large use of the costly metal, lead, “ manufactured with such skill, and so profusely as to supply not only the inhabitants of the towns but those of villages and villas with one of the daily requisites of advanced civilisation, proves the prosperity and even luxury of the province.”
Mr. Alfred Tylor follows out the same idea in his paper, “New Points in the History of Roman Britain,"2 where he asserts that the Roman occupation was connected chiefly with the development of an ancient mineral industry, to supply the wants of Imperial Rome, and not with mere agricultural colonisation.
How was the interior of the City laid out in Roman times ? This is a question almost impossible to answer. There were but few open1 Illustrations of Roman London, 1859, p. 6.
2 Archæologia, vol. xlviii. p. 221.
ings in the wall, and the roads probably crossed the City at right angles, as we know was the usual Roman plan. Some of the oldest thoroughfares now existing do not appear to run on the same line as Roman Roads, which are buried 20 feet below the present surface. Sir William Tite gave reasons for believing that Bishopsgate Street was not a Roman thoroughfare, and in the late excavations in Leadenhall, the basilica, to which allusion has already been made, was found apparently crossing the present thoroughfare of Gracechurch Street. The name of Watling Street is probably of Saxon origin. Many have been the attempts, most of them very absurd, to join on the little street in the City with the main Roman Road. There is no doubt that the early if not the original name was Atheling Street.2
Nearly fifteen centuries have passed since the Romans left this island, and still their presence haunts us. In all parts of the City the remains of their houses have been found, and much more still exists hidden beneath our feet, but the most interesting relic that still remains to us is London Stone. This has been supposed to be a Roman milliary stone, but it is probably something more than this, and the memory of its meaning, although now lost, probably remained for many years. When Jack Cade in 1450 struck London stone with his sword and said, in reference to himself, “Now is Mortimer lord of this city!" he did something which those who followed him understood to have a meaning. Mr. G. Laurence Gomme supposes London Stone, like other great stones, to have marked the place where the open air assembly gathered to legislate for the government of the City.
At the beginning of the 5th century the Roman legions left Britain, and we are told in the Saxon Chronicle that never since A.D. 409
have the Romans ruled in Britain "—the Chronicles setting down the Roman sway at 470 winters and dating from Julius Cæsar's invasion. We are told that in the year 418 “the Romans collected all the treasures that we in Britain, and hid some of them in the earth, that no man might afterwards find them, and conveyed some with them into Gaul.”
For a time there is perfect darkness as to the state of London, and we are left entirely to conjecture as to its history.
For a time probably the City remained much as it was before. The traders, whether they were Romans or Romanised Britons, were not likely to leave their businesses, and the trade of the country would continue as heretofore. But when the Saxons came all this would be changed. Many of the cities of Britain were destroyed. London, however, does not appear to have been so treated, and one naturally asks why?
Dr. Guest held the opinion that for a while the City lay desolate and 1 Archæologia, vol. xxxvi. p. 203.
of St. Paul's Hist. MSS. Comm., Ninth Report 2 Report on the MSS. of the Dean and Chapter Appendix, p. 4.
uninhabited, but may not the original inhabitants have continued for a time to carry on such trade as was possible, until the newcomers gradually overcame their repugnance to walled cities and joined with them ?
About 449 or 450 the invaders first settled in Britain, and in 457 Hengist and Æsc fought against the Britons at Crayford, driving them out of Kent. The vanquished fled to London in great terror, and apparently found a shelter there.
The names of the two counties in which London is situated will probably be found to throw some light upon this question. Middlesex and Surrey are two peculiar names, and they point to the fact that these two counties were peopled from the river and not from the neighbouring districts. The late Mr. J. R. Green affirmed that the Middlesaxons were an offshoot of the East Saxons, but if so, why did not they keep that name? They were surely not of enough importance to need a new name when they had one already! The truth would seem to be this. The East Saxons stopped at the Lea and the West Saxons at the Brent, leaving the district round London undisturbed. Possibly a distinct horde of Saxons coming up the Thames found the place unoccupied and settled there, obtaining the name of Middlesaxons. They were not of enough importance to form a kingdom of themselves, and therefore in course of time, although governed by their own Aldermen, they came under the sway of the East Saxons and of the Mercians.
The history of Surrey, or the South Ridge, appears to have been very similar. The name proves that it must have been peopled from the river, and that the newcomers extended as far as the hills in the south. If it had been peopled from Sussex or Kent, it is clearly improbable that they would style these hills the South Ridge. This district, like Middlesex on the opposite bank of the Thames, was an independent settlement, having its own Aldermen; although in the course of time it came successively under the sway of Kent and Sussex, and was finally subdued by Wessex.
These Saxons most probably shunned the City and settled on various spots around it. Along the banks of the Thames are several small havens whose names remain to us, such as Rotherhithe, Lambhithe (Lambeth), Chelchith (Chelsea), and these seem to tell of this early settlement.
Bede (Bk. ii. chap. iii.) describes London as being in 604 the metropolis of the East Saxons and an emporium of many peoples who came to it by sea and land. Although Saxon London existed for six centuries, there is comparatively little to relate of it. That invaluable monument—the Saxon Chronicle-tells us little of London between the 5th and the oth centuries.
The Danes estimated London at its true value, and the Saxons were constantly employed in driving them from its walls. In 851, however, the Danes plundered the City, and made themselves masters of it. They put Beorhtwulf, King of the Mercians, to flight, and then 1 Arch. Journ., vol. xix. p. 219.
2 The Making of England, 1881, p. 111, note.