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.

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The Roman Empire: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the Roman Empire.

  • The Roman Empire was one of the most powerful and extensive empires the world has ever seen. It reached its height in around 120 AD and began to decline in 285 AD.
  • At its height, the Roman Empire stretched from northern England to North Africa, and from Spain to Syria. One in every four people in the world were under Rome’s rule.

  • Rome was the centre of the huge empire. It had a population of over a million and it was not until the 19th century that another city, London, became larger.
  • The Romans were wonderful architects and invented the arch and the dome, and built many bridges and aqueducts. They constructed over 70 dams in Spain alone, many of which are still used.
  • They built over 100 huge amphitheatres all over their empire, including the famous Coliseum in Rome. The Coliseum could comfortably seat up to 80,000 people. (Click the link to learn more about Roman buildings)
  • The Roman network of roads stretched for over 80,000 km all over Europe. Towns and cities had toilets and a water supply, and rich people enjoyed central heating and running water.
  • Education was important to Romans, although often only boys attended school. Books were very expensive and each page had to be written by hand by specially trained scribes. (Click the link to learn more about Roman education)
  • At one time, almost 35 percent of the people in the Roman Empire were slaves. Slaves were taken to the furthest corners of the empire.
  • Claudius, Augustus and Maximinus were several important Roman emperors. Julius Caesar, another well-known emperor, has been portrayed in many films and the month of July was named after him.
  • The Roman Empire declined for several reasons. These included poor political decisions, too much spending on the army, a failing economy and rebellions in several parts of the empire.

What next? Discover some more facts about the Romans.

Who Were The Romans and Where Did They Come From?

Here are some basic facts about the Romans, explaining who they were and where they came from.

  • The Romans are the people who originated from the city of Rome in modern day Italy.
  • Rome was the centre of the Roman Empire – the lands controlled by the Romans, which included parts of Europe (including Gaul (France), Greece and Spain), parts of North Africa and parts of the Middle East. The Empire was truly multi-cultural, and many Roman citizens had never even seen Rome.

  • The Roman Army that invaded Britain in 43 A.D. was made up of legionaries and auxiliary soldiers from all over the Roman Empire.

The Roman Empire

The map above shows the Roman Empire at its peak. The vertical line to the right of Italy shows the division of the Empire between the Western Empire, centered around Rome, and the Eastern Roman Empire, centered around Constantinople.

Check out our Roman resources page to learn more Roman facts and information.