What are the best Roman Sites in Britain?
There are numerous Roman ruins in Britain, from the fascinating Lullingstone Roman Villa to the world famous Hadrian's Wall, Durnovaria and Verulamium. Other popular archaeological sites tend to include Cirencester Amphitheatre, Chedworth Villa and North Leigh Villa.
From the moment they invaded in 43AD through to their eventual withdrawal around 410AD, the Romans stamped their authority on Britain through military fortifications, cities, civic buildings and great monuments. This archaeological legacy can still be explored across the United Kingdom.
Our guide to the Roman sites of the UK can help you discover all of these places and more. Simply explore the interactive map of Roman remains in Britain above or take a look at what’s on offer below.
One of the best – if not the best – Roman sites in the UK, Portchester contains the country’s only intact set of Roman walls. Built during the third century AD, Portchester is the country’s only example of a Roman fort whose walls still stand complete up to around six metres. Definitely one not to miss. Today, Portchester Castle is run by English Heritage who offer audio tours and exhibitions about the site as well as children’s activities.
Hadrian’s Wall was a vast defensive structure spanning 73 miles and built under the rule of Roman Emperor Hadrian between 122 and 130 AD. Actually made up of a number of sites, Hadrian’s Wall is probably the most famous of the UK’s Roman sites. Today, many areas can be explored, giving an insight into this 73-mile ancient fortification. Large sections of Hadrian’s Wall remain intact in northern England and these are surrounded by various Roman monuments, forts and other ruins. There are several ways to visit all of these sections and sites, notably as part of the National Trail, which is a signposted walk, by bus, by bicycle and via tour groups. The 15 metre section pictured above is known as Planetrees and is quite central along the trail.
The Roman baths of Bath contain the remains of this ancient bath house as well as other artefacts, finds and displays from the ancient Roman town of Aqua Sulis. The baths were built around 44 AD - vast and lavish, the baths were able to accommodate far more people than just the residents of this town and were intended as a place for people to visit from across the Empire. Today, the baths offer an incredibly comprehensive insight into the lives of the ancient Romans in the town and around Britain. The site looks quite small from the outside, but it is actually vast and a visit can last several hours. There is also a comprehensive museum dedicated to exploring the lives of the ancient Roman citizens of Bath and an ancient drain used as an overflow system.
Containing the remains of a huge Roman palace complex, Fishbourne contains not only ruins, but interactive displays and reconstructions. Built on the site of a Roman supply compound, Fishbourne was a vast and impressive development which would have been built for the very highest echelons of Romano-British society. Today, the palace is run by the charity Sussex Past and is open to tourists and educational groups. There are many extremely well-preserved mosaics including the famous Dolphin mosaic. Visitors can view audio-visual displays, artefacts and reconstructions of the site as well as viewing the remains of the North Wing, which are protected under a covered enclosure.
Bignor has some of the most amazing Roman mosaics in the UK as well as practical, hands on activities for kids. The villa site was developed over two centuries before it was abandoned, probably after the Roman withdrawal from Britain. Re-discovered in the early 19th century, it is now enclosed in Georgian buildings which are themselves worthy of note. Today, the site contains some of the best preserved Roman mosaics in Britain, as well as the remains of the villa complex which include several living rooms, a bathhouse and even the underfloor heating systems employed by Roman engineers.
Perhaps London’s most famous 20th century Roman discovery, the Temple of Mithras is a Roman mithraeum – a temple built by worshippers of the mysterious cult-like god Mithras – built in the late second century and discovered in 1954 during building work in Walbrook, a street in the City of London. Today media behemoth Bloomberg who own the site have brought the temple back to life by way of ‘an innovative museum experience that will change the way we encounter archaeology.’ The resultant experience is both fascinating and superbly presented and definitely one to visit.
Home to the notable ruins of a 1st century Roman legionary barracks, Caerleon offers a fascinating insight into life at a Roman fort on the edge of the Empire. Among other things it contains the remains of a 6,000-seater amphitheatre. Other highlights are its grand bathhouse and the L-shaped barracks themselves. The nearby National Roman Legion Museum contains a number of fascinating exhibits detailing finds and artefacts from the site.
One of the best known forts along Hadrian’s Wall, Vindolanda contains an array of interesting Roman ruins as well as an excellent museum. The structures at Vindolanda range from a pre-Hadriatic baths complex to post-Roman mausoleum and church, demonstration of the lengthy period for which the site has been occupied. Amongst other sites found at Vindolanda are military offices and barracks dating to the Severan period and numerous sites from the third and fourth centuries including houses, workshops, a Praetorium, a temple and more baths. For those wanting to see what else has been found at the excavations, the Vindolanda museum offers an array of artefacts including one of the country’s biggest ancient leather collections.
Located today in modern St Albans, Verulamium was one of the most important Roman cities in Britain. Formerly the tribal capital of the native Catuvellauni tribe, Verulamium was conquered by the Romans during their invasion of the island in 43 AD. Visitors can still see the remains of the Roman walls, as well as the impressive Roman theatre - one of the few Roman theatres in Britain to have survived. As well as the site itself, Verulamium Museum stands on St Michael’s St, with displays of Roman everyday life. There are some impressive murals and mosaics and a variety of interactive displays.
Containing the remains of ancient granaries, houses and markets, this Roman archaeological site was once a thriving Roman settlement. Before the construction of Hadrian’s Wall, Corbridge was the site of several forts but once the wall was complete, Corbridge began developing into a town. Today, visitors can explore the roads and remains of the town which include some well-preserved granaries, houses, workshops and markets.
Full list of Roman Ruins in Britain
Beyond the most famous Roman remains in the UK, there’s many similar places to visit, including Roman Baths - Bath, Welwyn Roman Baths and York Minster to name but a few. We’re constantly expanding this list of Roman Sites in Britain and you can view the current selection below.
Aesica was one of several UK Roman Forts build along the line of Hadrian’s Wall. It is thought to have been constructed in the early 2nd century - and today it’s remains sit directly alongside a modern farm complex. The original fort had three main gates with double portals and towers at each corner of the fort. At some point the western gate was completely blocked up. Today the fort remains reasonably well preserved by the standards of the sites along Hadrian’s Wall, which itself is probably the most famous Roman site in Britain. A Roman bathhouse has also been found a short distance to the south of the fort, around 100 yards away.Read more
A British Roman ruin located in the lake district, Ambleside Roman Fort dates from the 2nd century and are located on the shores of Lake Windermere. It served as a supply base to the larger fortifications at Hadrian’s Wall as well as being used to keep order in the local area. When the Romans first arrived in Britain and conquered the north of England an initial fortification was built here, however it was abandoned soon after. The site was later reoccupied by the Romans and a permanent fort was established early in the 2nd century AD.Read more
Built around 160AD, Arbeia was a supply base and garrison which guarded the entrance to the river Tyne. Today, Arbeia has been partially reconstructed, allowing visitors to experience how this once-mighty fortification would have looked in its prime. It is one of many Roman ruins in Britain that gives an insight into Roman military fortifications.Read more
Once forming part of the Antonine Wall, this ancient military outpost was one of the most important defensive points along the wall. Today, visitors can still discern parts of the fort, including its bath complex. Among the less well-known UK Roman ruins, it is still worth a look.Read more
Built in the 2nd century as part of one of the Antonine Wall forts, Bearsden can now be found among modern houses and is one of the more tucked-away of the places on our Roman Sites UK list. Today, the remains represent some of the best preserved of this Roman military structure.Read more
Binchester Roman Fort contains the remains of one of the largest Roman fortifications in Britain. Founded around 80 AD, the fort could play host to a considerable military force and was an important staging post for the Roman military in the region. Binchester Roman Fort remained in use throughout the Roman period and a large civilian settlement grew up around it. Today the Binchester site is open to visitors, who can explore its remains along with those of a Roman bath house within the complex.Read more
Situated alongside one of the best-preserved stretches of Hadrian’s Wall, Birdoswald was once home to over 1,000 soldiers. Even after the Romans left Britain, Birdoswald Roman Fort remained inhabited up to the fifth century AD. Today, the ruins include walls, gateways and workshops. One of many forts on our map of Roman Sites in the UK.Read more
Housed in a purpose built structure, Brading Roman Villa on the Isle of Wight was a 1st century Roman house and is an interesting example of Britain’s roman sites. Thought to have first been constructed in the mid-first century, it is believed that the villa was developed into a stone structure by the middle of the second century.Read more
Bremenium Roman Fort was an important Roman outpost which was located beyond Hadrian’s Wall. This heavily fortified garrison stood for more than 200 years as the most northerly base in the entire Roman Empire. Unlike many forts of its type, Bremenium had thicker walls and included significant artillery emplacements - highlighting the fact this fort existed at the very fringes of Empire, essentially in enemy territory. Consequently, no civilian settlements grew up outside the walls and there seems to have been little or nothing of this nature at Bremenium. Though much of the original stonework has been plundered over the years, the remains of the Roman fort of Bremenium can still be seen.Read more
The Roman Fort at Burgh Castle is one of the best preserved Roman sites in Britain. Built between 260 AD and 280 AD, the walls of this impressive fortification remain in remarkably good condition - they survive on three sides and stretch as high as four metres. Known as Gariannonum, Burgh Castle Roman Fort was originally built as part of the Saxon Shore defences, which were designed to act as a defensive system protecting against seaborne raiders from Denmark and Germany. Today the remains of Burgh Castle Roman Fort are truly impressive; both for their state of preservation and for the located, situated as it is on a low cliff above the Waveney estuary.Read more
Hidden next to a medieval church in Holyhead, Anglesey, this small Roman fortlet is one of the most obscure Roman sites in the United Kingdom. It is thought that Caer Gybi was constructed to defend against pirates who were operating in the area and this smaller fortlet was probably an outpost of the larger Roman fort at Segontium.Read more
A Norman castle built over the site of a Roman fort, Cardiff Castle contains the reconstructed remains of the original Roman defensive wall. With its good access to the sea, the site of Cardiff Castle was first home to a succession of British Roman forts, initially built in the mid first century AD.Read more
Little remains of this site, which was once part of the Antonine Wall, a vast second century defensive barrier in Scotland which ran from West Kilpatrick to Carriden. It is one of a number of Britain’s Roman sites which made up part of this famous defensive structure. Visitors to the site can make out two beacon platforms and a defensive ditch which would have formed part of the original fortifications.Read more
Containing artefacts and replicas of Roman military equipment such as weapons, armour and chariots, this is an interesting place to visit for those seeking Roman sites in Britain. The museum is located next to one of the oldest Roman forts in the area, as Magna under the Romans and as Carvoran in the post-Roman era, though very little is known about this fort.Read more
The modern day village of Ribchester is situated on the site of what was once a large Roman fort known as Bremetennacum Veteranorum. It is believed a first incarnation of Ribchester Roman Fort was built in 72AD as a timber fortification. This Roman fort would have housed a military garrison and would have been used to secure the local area. The fort was later rebuilt in stone, probably in the mid-to-late second century AD. Today, the remains of Ribchester Roman Fort and the Ribchester Roman Bathhouse can be seen alongside the Ribchester Roman Museum, which showcases the best of the history of the site.Read more
One of the forts making up Hadrian’s Wall, Segedunum is a great place to view the remains of the wall as it includes a 35m high viewing tower. There were several wall forts along the 73-mile stretch of Hadrian’s Wall, each garrisoned by Roman soldiers. From around 122 AD, Segedunum held 600 soldiers and was one of the eastern forts along the wall. One of the most interesting Roman sites in Britain.Read more
One of the more hidden places on our map of Roman sites in Britain, Welwyn Roman Baths can be found in a specially built vault under the A1 motorway. Excavations took place before the motorway was constructed and efforts to preserve the baths resulted in the construction of the chamber and an access tunnel. Visitors can view the remains of the small bath complex, information on the Roman approach to bathing and on the lives of those who lived in Roman Britain.Read more
Our database of Roman Sites in Britain is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. So, if you know of other Roman ruins in the UK, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by contacting us today.