The Romans

According to ancient myths, the city of Rome was founded by Romulus in 753 BC. Over hundreds of years Rome grew stronger and more powerful, slowly defeating all the other cities in Italy and around the Mediterranean. By the time the Roman general Julius Caesar came to Britain in 55 BC, the Roman Empire stretched all the way from Spain in the west to Asia Minor (modern Turkey) in the east. The Romans did not stay in Britain at this time and it was not until the emperor Claudius invaded Britain in 43 AD that it became part of the Roman Empire.

Roman finds

Roman objects

The things that both the Romans (the people that actually came to Britain from Italy) and the British people that lived here (who were called Romano-British) lost, dropped or threw away are different from those that prehistoric people left behind.

At the very end of the prehistoric period, we saw that people in Britain had coins, brooches and jewellery, but that tools and weapons were the things most often found. In the Roman period this changes and we start to see more coins, jewellery, household objects and things used in farming or for helping to look after animals.

The most common types of finds recorded by the PAS that date to the Roman period are coins, pottery, brooches, spindle whorls (used to spin sheep fleeces in to wool by hand) and fittings from horse tack (the metal fittings from harnesses, reins and saddles).

Roman coins

When the Romans arrived in Britain they brought their own coins with them. These coins very quickly replaced those used by the people of Iron Age Britain. The same coins that the Romans used in Britain could also be used in France, Germany, Spain, Italy and many other places as well. In this way it was very much like the Euro is today.

The Romans had been using coins for more than 300 years and, like us today, made coins of different values (or denominations). The most valuable coins were made from gold; others were made from silver; and the least valuable ones were made from brass or copper.

Roman coins

© The British Museum 2012 | Credits