Roman legacies can often be seen across the UK – roads, baths and language are all known to have found their origins in the Roman period. However, if you’re looking for a more direct and immersive experience of Roman history, here are some of Britain’s best fort reconstructions which highlight their fascinating past.
Lunt Roman Fort, Baginton, Near Coventry
The history of the Roman occupation of Britain has been a fascination of audiences for centuries. In the modern day, the Romans are a mainstay of many elements of media and pop culture – for example, Rome continues to be one of the most popular themes in iGaming. When user play exciting online slots, they’ll find a multitude of Roman themed games such as Up Pompay, Rome: The Golden Age, Shields of Rome, Emperor of Rome, and Gladiator: Road to Rome, that riff off the themes and motifs of the empire’s culture and beliefs, as well as games set in the fortifications they built like Catapult Cash.
Due to the consistent interest in Rome and Roman Britain, this has led to a few of the UK’s fascinating archaeological sites of Roman forts to be fully or partially reconstructed to provide an immersive experience for visitors. One of these is right on our doorstep in Baginton, just a 10-minute drive from the centre of Coventry. Lunt Roman Fort is said to have been built in AD 60 and occupied at four distinct times, one of which to supply an unidentified legion in their battles against Boudica. After excavating the site in the 1930s turning up evidence of Roman-age pottery, the site continued to be excavated into the 1960s, and indeed still has excavations today. In the 1970s, a section of the wall, a gateway, three granary buildings, and a gyrus were erected on the original Roman foundations.
Arbeia Roman Fort, South Shields
The UNESCO Heritage Site Arbeia Roman Fort was originally built in around AD 129 to protect the main route to Hadrian’s Wall via the sea, and later to supply those stationed along the posts of Hadrian’s Wall in the modern Newcastle and Tyneside areas. One of the key things to explore at Arbeia is that it has the only permanent stone granary to be discovered in Britain.
In 1986, the West Gate was reconstructed after many excavations and research to uncover how it would have originally looked. Later, the gatehouse, Commanding Officer’s house, and barracks were all reconstructed to full scale on their original Roman foundations. From the top of the gatehouse, visitors can view the archaeological site below that is still uncovering finds to this day.
Richborough Roman Fort and Amphitheatre, Kent
Richborough Roman Fort is often seen as the ‘gateway to Britannia’, and was therefore an incredibly important site for the Romans in Britain. It made headlines when English Heritage reported that the gateway and rampart for the fort were being reconstructed, and opened to the public in April 2023. The gateway stands at a staggering 8m and has been raised on the original spot from the AD 43 fortification.
The fort was part of a wider Roman town known as Rutupiae and incorporated the nearby port, Portus Ritupis. The town is thought to be the destination for many visiting Roman officials, and became known for having oysters so good they rivalled those from Italy’s Lucrine Lake (according to Juvenal, at least).
And there you have it – from the North East coast, to the South East, and right here in Coventry, the UK has a wide range of reconstructed Roman forts just waiting to be explored.