It is possible that Aulus Alfidius Olussa, a Roman citizen born either in Athens or Atina in Italy, was one of the merchants mentioned by Tacitus when he described London as ‘exceedingly busy with large numbers of merchants and shipments of goods’.
Few individuals, except perhaps for Olussa, can be securely assigned as merchants even though their presence is certain from the scale of the waterfront developments on both sides of the Thames and the mass of imported goods that passed through London.
A stone building inscription found in Tabard Square (LLS02) Southwark cites Tiberinius Celerianus who dedicated a temple to Mars Camulus. He was a full Roman citizen and came from around Beauvais in northern France, the territory of the Bellovaci. Mars Camulus seems to have been a god of his homeland, rather than a local London god. Why was the offering made?
Celerianus was either ‘the first of the Londoners’ to do something, or he was their ‘first moritix’. Moritix is not regular Latin but a rare word of Celtic origin, meaning ‘seafarer’. It is not known whether Celerianus had been the ‘first Londoner’ to make a special trip of some kind or whether he was some sort of merchant? For more information, see the London inscription in Londinium Lite.
For most of the population, the class order must have been irrelevant to their daily lives. The bulk of Roman Londoners must have been the working classes - tradesmen, craftsmen and slaves. The names of these small-scale tradesmen and craftsmen are rarely recorded but they were probably mostly of British or Gaulish origin.
From marks on their products we know the names of some of these craftsmen. Publius Basilis, the cutler, tool-makers Aprilis and Titulus who stamped their tools, and leather-workers Verus and Burdonius who cut their names on the leather hides.
We can only infer the presence of most craftsmen from the surviving remains of their work. There is good evidence, for example, that a gemstone manufacturer was established in the Eastcheap area (EST83) around AD55 (see also Early shopping in Londinium Lite) and a goldsmith a little later near Cannon Street (SUF94). At this early date, both would have almost certainly come from abroad to set up their trade (see also Goldsmiths and jewellers in Work life).
The large public buildings of the 1st and early 2nd century would have needed specialist craftsmen to produce the wall paintings, mosaics and sculptures. The wall painting from Winchester Palace (WP83) in Southwark reflects Pompeian styles and probably would have required foreign craftsmen.
There is evidence for travelling salesmen from Roman Britain. If you wanted eye medications in London then Gaius Silvius Tetricus was your man. His stone stamp recording four different prescriptions to sooth inflammation of the eyes, was found in Thames Street (see also Travelling salesman in Londinium Lite). His family name, Silvius, indicates that he was a Roman citizen of Gaulish origin.