The site of London had no local community. The area had not been the site of an Iron Age native settlement as it was on the border between several neighbouring tribal areas. London was perfectly situated to become the economic centre of the new province, its position at a crossing point on the Thames ensuring that it would become both a major port and the focus of the road system.
The presence of the provincial administration may also have owed its success to the totally neutral location as well as the communications – removing any perceived association between Roman power and any particular tribal group. Whilst traditional power in the tribes remained focussed on tribal, ‘civitas’ centres, the new town represented a higher imperial power outside the influence of any pre-existing administration.
The building of Roman roads, closely associated with Roman civilisation, and the installation of the road network certainly played a central role in the Romanisation of Britain. London was the centre of this provincial communication system.
The road network did not evolve from a system of Iron Age trackways but was skilfully laid out by Roman surveyors who combined point-to-point directness with respect for the landscape. Many alignments remain in use to this day.
Several roadside towns sprang up at the river crossings. Staines was one of several roadside towns that sprang up as well as at Brentford, Old Ford and Crayford. No doubt they held markets for the produce of local farms, as well as providing accommodation for travellers. On the road from the Kent coast to London, Springhead became one of the most important religious centres in Britain.
The content of this essay is relevant to articles in Londinium Lite while also explaining some of the main background aspects of Roman London’s administration and infrastructure.