The Roman Ruins Under Leadenhall Market
In one of the most picturesque areas of The City, there’s a hidden, ancient, secret. Did you know you can find Roman ruins under Leadenhall Market?
On the corner of Gracechurch Street and Leadenhall Market you’ll find an unassuming hairdressers.
Ask nicely and one of the staff will show you down some stairs to the lower floor.
At this point you might need to lower your expectations, but – trust me – the sheer weirdness of the setting is worth the trip.
Past the old fashioned hairdresser chairs and behind a glass door you’ll find the Roman ruins, a solid-looking hunk of well-made brick wall.
What is it?
This the pier is part of a support for the Basilica, a building that housed the Roman town hall and law courts. It was built around 70AD and was enlarged between 90-120AD making it the largest building of its kind North of The Alps!
Image from the Museum of London where you can see this model in their Roman galleries
Londinium was founded around 50AD and lasted over 400 years as the centre of administration and trade for Roman Britain. The basilica to which this ruin belongs is the tallest part at the back of the Museum of London model and the larges courtyard is the forum; a market and meeting place with permanent shops and offices.
It’s very hard to imagine this huge complex on the site of the sprawling City of London, but even weirder is the fact that the basilica was bigger than the present day St Paul’s Cathedral!
These remains were discovered when Leadenhall was being constructed (1880-82) and they’re now the only visible parts of what was once a huge section of Roman London life.
Discover more of Roman London
Throughout The City there’s evidence of Roman life and one of my favourite places is the Guildhall. Ignore the building in front of you though, it’s the floor that holds the key to finding Londinium’s version of the colosseum!
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My granddad was a hatter next-door to Leadenhall at No. 95 Gracechurch st, (was officially the last hatter in the City of London). When the building got bombed in the Blitz and they were trying to clear up, they discovered the Roman ruins of the Basilica, then.