London's Story

London in the Beginning

According to which reference book you consult, the name "London" either derives from the Roman name for London – which was “Londinium” – or has much earlier Celtic origins also involving the name London, i.e. “The place of Londinos – the fierce one”. The Celts settled in the Thames valley in scattered communities at least 300 years before the Roman landings in England in 55BC. Several artefacts belonging to the Celtic period have been found in the London area, most notably a beautiful shield, which was found in the River Thames near Battersea Bridge. It dates from about 200 BC and is now in the British Museum. However, the small settlement at London did not develop into a major centre of population under the Celts (unlike the city of Camulodunum, which lies 60 miles to the north-east of London and is known to us nowadays as Colchester), and it was not until the Romans arrived in force in 43 AD that the settlement of “Londinium” began to take shape. 

The Romans, never ones to do things by halves, sailed up the River Thames to the point where they could most easily ford the Thames. Here they established a port, and constructed a wooden bridge across the Thames near to the location of today’s London Bridge. This became the focal point and hub of their road system, which fanned out across the south east of England. The Thames provided a relatively deep anchorage for the Romans’ fleet, and during the next century the Romans built roads and forts in the area, and trade flourished.


<<Back to London's Story menu