Photo Above: On Tower Hill, this section of the City Wall stands at a height of 35 feet, with the Roman work surviving to the level of 14 1/2 feet, and medieval stonework above. The Tower of London is visible in the distance.
With a week in London, one can barely scratch the surface of all there is to see. Bill and I were there in April of this year, and it was my first time in England. My priority was visiting prominent historical sites like the British Museum and the Tower of London, but also exploring some of London’s less-known ancient Roman sites, including the London City Wall and the London Mithraeum. Unlike the more popular tourist sites, these were uncrowded and we could explore in relative solitude.
London Wall Walk
London was founded circa 48 A.D., a few years after the Roman Conquest in 43 A.D., and was originally called Londinium. Around 200 A.D., the Romans built a wall of stone to defend the city. After the Romans, during the Saxon period (the early fifth century A.D. to 1066), the wall fell into decay, but from the 12th to 17th centuries sections were repaired or rebuilt. As London expanded, the wall was no longer needed for defense and parts of it were demolished in the 18th century. By the 19th century most of it had disappeared. Only recently have several sections become visible again.
The London Wall Walk follows the line of the City Wall from the Tower of London to the Museum of London. It is 1 3/4 miles long and marked by 21 panels which can be followed in either direction. We visited several sections of the wall along this path and captured a few images.
Some Romans were worshippers of the god Mithras. Theirs was a secret cult. The temples of Mithras were in underground caves and featured a relief of Mithras killing a bull. It was believed that from the death of the bull sprang new life. The idea of rebirth was central to the myth of the Mithraic Mysteries, as it is called.
The Temple of Mithras in the City of London was discovered in 1954 during excavations of areas of the city destroyed in the Blitz during World War II. Built of clay bricks and stone around 240 A.D., it was made to resemble the mythic cave where Mithras killed the bull and so was windowless and dark. Around 310-320 A.D., it may have been taken over by the followers of Bacchus and was abandoned in the 5th century as Londinium itself began to be abandoned.
Since 1954, the temple had been moved from its original site, but now the London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE has returned it to that location. Beneath Bloomberg’s European headquarters, the Mithraeum showcases the ancient temple and a selection of Roman artifacts found during excavations.