It is thought that London in prehistoric times was merely a collection of scattered rural settlements. Spear heads and weapons from the Bronze and Iron Ages have been found around the Thames, and a recent archaeological dig near Vauxhall discovered evidence of a possible wooden bridge across the Thames around 3,000 years ago!
It was the Romans who were responsible for the city we know today as London. They invaded Britain in AD43, and soon afterwards founded the city of Londinium. It is thought that the original city was small – about the size of Hyde Park!
In AD60 Queen Boudica (also known as Boadicia) of the Iceni tribe rose up against the Romans, who fled. The city was burned to the ground. However, the Romans eventually regained control and rebuilt London, this time adding a Forum (market) and Basilica (a business centre), and slowly building a wall around the city to protect it from further invasion.
The Square Mile.
The area inside the defensive wall is now known as The Square Mile, or The City, and is the financial centre of the UK. There is much evidence remaining in the City of the Roman city of Londinium, and often when new buildings are built and excavations are made, exciting archaeological finds are made!
The Romans left at the beginning of the 5th Century as the Roman Empire crumbled, leaving London largely deserted. Britain was invaded by the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes (who came from Holland, Germany and Denmark). These Anglo-Saxons were farmers and tended to live outside big towns. We know very little about what happened to London in this period.
By the beginning of the 7th Century the city had become important enough to justify the building of a cathedral, St Pauls. There is still a cathedral (but not the same one!) on the same spot.
Once again we know very little about London for a few hundred years, although during the 9th and 10th Centuries there were many attacks by the Vikings.
“London Bridge is falling down, Falling down, falling down, London Bridge is falling down, My fair lady.”
It is thought that this nursery rhyme probably records an attack against London by the Viking, Olaf, at the beginning of the 11th Century.
Medieval London (1066 – 1485).
Soon afterwards, the Normans invaded from France and William 1 (William the Conqueror) took control. He quickly began to build a stronghold to guard London – the Tower of London. The Tower has been used as a castle and a palace, a zoo and a weapons store, a mint (where coins are made) and a prison.