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London, as being seated on the south side of the Thames; and Dr. Gale, relying on his authority, places it in the spot long called St. George's Fields. But though various Roman antiquities have been discovered at different periods in that tract of ground, it must, previous to the embankment of the river, have been a mere morass overflowed by water at every spring tide, and, consequently, by no means adapted for human habitation. That the north bank of the Thames was the site of the Roman city appears also from the numerous architectural and other relics of that people found there, and which decidedly identify the place of their residence. According to Dr. Stukeley, the original London formed an oblong square, reaching from the river Thames to Maiden Lane, Lad Lane, and Cateaton Street, on the north; and extending from east to west between two streams, which have left their names to Wal-brook and Fleet-market, beneath which streets they still continue to flow. London, after it came under the dominion of the Romans, no doubt received from that enterprising and sagacious people every improvement of which its situation admitted, and might therefore naturally be supposed to have experienced an augmentation of population and importance. That this was actually the case, we learn from the information of the Roman historian Tacitus, who says, that previously to the revolt of the Britons under Boadicea, or about A. D. 60, London " was the chief residence of merchants, and the great mart of trade and commerce, though not dignified with the name of a colony." In the insurrection of the Britons against the Romans, A.D. 61, this place was depopulated and destroyed by the troops of Boadicea, for all its inhabitants who remained there, after the retreat of the Roman army, under Suetonius Paulinus, were sacri ficed to the fury of the Britons. From this circumstance it must be inferred, that London, at that time, was not a fortified place, as it was incapable of resisting the attack of undisciplined forces. It was subsequently made a stationary Roman town, encompassed with an embattled wall, and the inhabitants were subjected to the laws of the empire. Under the fostering influence of the mighty masters of the ancient world, London soon recovered,
and probably surpassed, its former prosperity. At the beginning of the third century, in the reign of the Emperor Severus, it is represented as a great and wealthy city, and considered to be the metropolis of Britain. Such was the extent of its commerce, that, we are told by the historian Zosimus, in the year 359, eight hundred vessels belonging to this place were employed in the exportation of grain.
Though the original Walls of the city are admitted to have been of Roman construction, yet authors are not agreed as to the time of their erection. Richard of Cirencester ascribes them to the age of Constantine the Great, where he says, "This city was surrounded with a wall by the Empress Helena, the discoverer of the Holy Cross," who was the mother of Constantine, and is supposed to have been a British princess. Maitland imagines they were built by Theodosius, a Roman general, who visited Britain about 369, to oppose the incursions of the Picts and Scots. It appears indeed, from the relation of Ammianus Marcellinus, that Theodosius, after expelling the invaders, took up his residence in London, and that he repaired the fortifications of those cities and castles which they had damaged or destroyed; but the most that can be inferred from this account is, that Theodosius restored the walls and forts of the city, which had suffered dilapidation from time or violence. It is most probable, that a rampart of some kind was erected round London, on its being rebuilt after the revolt under Boadicea. This rampart, perhaps, extended no farther eastward than Walbrook, including the same space as the original British settlement. Whether the enlargement of the boundary took place on the erection of the walls by the Empress Helena, or at an earlier period, cannot be determined with certainty. The following is a general sketch of the extent and direction of the ancient wall of this city: - It commenced at a fortress or castle standing on or near the site of the present Tower, and was carried, in a northern direction, to Aldgate; thence it made a curve north-westward to Bishopsgate, from which it was continued, nearly in a straight line, due west to Cripplegate, and on to Aldersgate; there, bending to the south-west, it passed on to
Newgate, where it made almost a right angle, and, turning Southward, was continued to Ludgate, at a short distance from which it formed another angle, and ran westward to the river Fleet, along the bank of which it reached to the Thames. Another wall stretched along the north bank of that river. The circuit of this boundary appears to have been somewhat more than two miles, and the superficial contents of the included space have been computed at four hundred acres. The height of the wall is said to have been twenty-two feet, and it was defended at certain distances by strong towers and bastions, the former forty feet high. Dr. Stukeley, in his "Itinerarium Curiosum," has given a plan of Londinium, showing its form and extent, according to his conjectures, with the number of gates in the walls, and the military roads branching off from them. No traces of Roman masonry are discoverable in the few remains of the city wall now visible. These relics are confined to London Wall, (at the back of Fore Street,) Cripplegate Churchyard, and a court leading from the Broadway to Little Bridge Street, on the south side of Ludgate Hill. Wherever the foundations have been laid open, this bulwark has been found to be formed of rag-stone, with single layers of Roman bricks, at intervals of two feet. These bricks were a little more than seventeen inches long, eleven and a half broad, and one inch and a quarter in thickness.
Nearly across the midst of Roman London, ran the stream already mentioned, called Walbrook, the course of which has long been covered over; and almost at right angles with this, passed through the centre of the city, was a street, in the direction of Watling Street. The four principal gates opened to the four great military roads, or ways, leading to various parts of the island. The prætorian way, originally a British road, and afterwards the Saxon Watling Street, passed under a gate on the site of Newgate, whence it traversed the city to a ferry across the Thames, at Dowgate, and, re-commencing on the opposite bank, was continued to Dover. Under Cripplegate passed Irmin Street; and under Aldgate, a vicinal way by Bethnal Green to Oldford where there was a passage across the river Lea to Layton, in Essex, and
onward to Colchester, &c. On the formation of new roads, additional gates were erected, among which were Bridge-gate, Lud-gate, Alders-gate, Moor-gate, Bishopsgate, and the Postern-gate on Tower Hill. Besides the fort near the Tower, the Romans had a Specula, or watch tower, situated on the north side of Barbican. There was also a strong out-work, on the west side of the Old Bailey, some traces of which are still visible in Sea-coal Lane; and there are likewise relics of a similar fortress on the eminence near Apothecaries' Hall.
The burial places of the Romans were, by the laws of the empire, directed to be without the walls of their cities. Those attached to London are supposed to have been situated on the spots now called Goodman's Fields and Spitalfields, where numerous sepulchral relics have been frequently disinterred. Among the various indications of Roman residence which have been discovered within the limits of London, may be mentioned tessellated pavements, urns, coins, pottery, and foundations of buildings, which sufficiently attest the ancient grandeur and importance of this city. Whitaker, with great probability, supposes, "that the first embankment of the Thames was the natural operation of that magnificent spirit which intersected the earth with so many raised ramparts and roads." Of this vast bulwark against the encroachment of the tide, there are evident remains on the south side of the river; but it appears on a scale of still greater magnitude in the vast sea-wall along the fens of Essex. By such works as these, the Romans, in some measure, repaired the injuries which their ambition inflicted on vanquished nations, leaving them as monuments of their glory to future ages.
When Britain was deserted by the Romans, and the ancient inhabitants were left to conduct their own affairs, it is probable that the internal government of the country devolved on the magistrates of the principal cities; and as London had been the chief seat of Roman authority, its municipal officers must have possessed much power and influence. Though this period of British history is very obscure, it is an acknowledged fact, that Vortigern, a British chieftain, obtained the sovereignty of the south
ern part of the island, and made a notable use of his authority, by adopting those measures which terminated in the subjugation of what is now called England, by the Jutes, Saxons, and Angles, piratical tribes of adventurers from Germany, who had long been formidable enemies of the provincial Britons. Hengist, leader of the first of these bands of invaders, soon obtained possession of the county of Kent; and though he had been originally invited hither to assist Vortigern in repelling the attacks of the Picts and Scots, yet he, ere long, turned his arms against the Britons themselves. It appears from the Saxon Chronicle, that, in 457, a British army having been defeated at Crayford in Kent, retreated to London. About twenty years after this battle, Hengist made himself master of this city, and kept possession of it, probably, till his death, A.D. 488. It was then re-captured by the British king, Ambrosius, and continued to belong to the Britons during a great part of the sixth century. On the formation of the Saxon kingdom of Essex, London became its capital. Shortly afterwards, Christianity superseded Paganism among the Anglo-Saxons, and Sebert, king of Essex, having been converted in 604, London was constituted a Bishop's See, and Melitus was appointed the first bishop.
In 610, a cathedral church, dedicated to St. Paul, was erected on the same spot where the present cathedral stands. Westminster Abbey, which owed its foundation to King Sebert, was built not long afterwards. The place chosen for its site was then called the island of Thorney, and from the buildings which gradually congregated around the monastery, the city of Westminster derived its origin.
Though the Saxons were Pagans for more than one hundred and fifty years after their first settlement in Britain, yet as London did not finally pass under their yoke till a short time before their conversion to Christianity, it may be questioned whether the general appearance of this city was materially affected by its change of masters. The Saxons, a much less polished people than the Romanized Britons, doubtless adopted the arts and improvements of the conquered nation; and when they had leisure to re