You don’t need to head to Italy to walk in the footsteps of Roman Legionnaires; we have our own Roman history here in the UK and it is nothing short of fascinating! Parts of Britain were controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410, and the landscape of England continues to bear the marks of this ancient history today.
History hounds will love travelling throughout the country discovering what the Romans have left behind, from Hadrian’s Wall on the border of Scotland, to the picturesque spa town of Bath. Here are four Roman cities that are great for travellers looking for history and modernity alike.
Founded in the year 71 with the name Eboracum the city of York was once the capital of the Roman province of Britannia Inferior, and the kingdoms of Northumbria and Jorvik. The fortress that was built here by the Ninth Legion covered 50 acres and housed some 6000 soldiers. Emperors held court in York, and Constantine the Great was even proclaimed Emperor in the city after his father’s death.
This summer York celebrates its independence; 800 years since the city was given the freedom to govern itself. Charter Day itself is Monday 9 July, but events will be held all summer to mark the anniversary. While in the city don’t miss a visit to Jorvik Viking Centre, York Cathedral, Clifford’s Tower, and make sure you take a boat cruise along the Rivers Ouse and Foss. You can always rent a lovely country cottage in the nearby Yorkshire Dales or Moors and explore further afield as well.
The compact city of Chester is sat along the banks on the River Dee and has been since the year 79, when the Roman Legio II Adiutrix settled it as the Roman fort, Deva Victrix. Chester later became one of the largest settlements in the Roman province of Britainia, boasting an amphitheatre that could hold up to 10 000 people and defensive walls to repel the hoards.
Today in Chester you can visit the city walls, which are the most complete Roman walls remaining in Britain. You can walk around the city on the top of the walls, a 2 mile route, with historical interpretation along the way. On your journey along the walls you’ll come up the excavated remains of the amphitheatre, the Roman Gardens, the beautiful River Dee. Grab a snack at the Spudulike on on Bridge Street and take a peek at the Roman Hypocaust that still remains in the basement.
About 20 years after the Romans landed in Britain they set up the spa town of Aquae Silus, today known as Bath. Baths and temples were built in the surrounding area and over 300 years of Roman occupation the city was expanded to include more sophisticated buildings and defensive walls.
Today Bath is still known as a spa city, with the Roman spa complex attracting millions of visitors every year. The Roman baths aren’t all there is to see in this beautiful city though. Bath presents some of the finest architectural sights in all of Europe, including the Royal Crescent, Bath Abbey, and the Circus. The city also boasts great nightlife, with theatres, cinemas, live music venues and pubs.
If you are looking for holiday accommodation in these Roman cities, or near any of the other great historic Roman sites littered across the country, visit www.sykescottages.co.uk. A wonderful selection of self catering holiday cottages are on offer here, whether you’re looking for a romantic cottage for two or a comfortable family cottage. You might even be able to snag yourself a great last minute cottage deal.