Roman Forts: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Roman Forts.

  • Roman forts, also known as castra, could be found all over the Roman Empire, to protect it from attack. The huge empire stretched from northern England to North Africa and from Portugal to the Middle East.

  • Some Roman forts could hold up to 6,000 people. As well as barracks for soldiers, they had stables, a butcher shop and bakery and administrative offices.
  • Forts were always built in defensive locations and surrounded by a deep ditch. They were first built of wood, but later, many were replaced with stone.
  • Roman soldiers sometimes stayed at a fort for 25 years, and the daily routine was hard. Soldiers had to run 30 km, practice archery and throwing spears, and complete various chores.
  • Hadrian’s Wall which stretches for 117 km near the English / Scottish border had over 12 forts along its length. These could hold up to 1,000 men. The remains of some of the forts can be visited today.
  • One of the best preserved Roman forts is Vindolanda, near the wall. It is famous for wooden tablets containing military and personal letters which were found there.
  • Housesteads is another large Roman fort near Hadrian’s Wall. It had its own toilets and hospital, and a nearby building known as the Murder House, where two skeletons were found.
  • The Roman fort of Londinium (London) was built around 120 AD and originally covered about 12 acres. Parts of it remain under a road called London Wall.
  • The fort at Eboracum grew into the city of York, and was visited by the great Roman Emperor, Hadrian. Parts of the original Roman baths can be seen today in the cellar of the Roman Bath pub.
  • Binchester, in County Durham, was one of the largest Roman forts in the UK. Today, the site is open to visitors. It has a small museum and one of the best preserved private bath houses.
  • In the village of Baginton, near Coventry, a Roman fort has been reconstructed by archaeologists. Made from timber and turf, the Lunt Roman Fort is an example of the type of buildings the Roman Army constructed in Britain in the years after the uprising by Boudicca.

What next? Visit our Romans resources page to discover more Roman facts.

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