Roman London's amphitheatre In 1988, Museum of London archaeologists made a discovery that was to change the face of Roman London forever - when they unearthed the capital's only Roman amphitheatre in Guildhall Yard. Nearly 15 years later, the doors to the amphitheatre opened for the first time in nearly 2,000 years. The amphitheatre was first discovered in 1988 when short stretches of Roman wall were observed at the bottom of four archaeological investigation trenches. The City of London was keen to integrate the remains into its proposals for a new Art Gallery and in 1992 work started, with the excavations taking place at the same time as construction over six years. Since the dig finished the remains have been protected in a controlled environment in which they could dry out slowly, thus preventing damage. Britain finally entered the annals of recorded history with Julius Caesar's two 'invasions' of 55and 54 BC. Although the Romans thought of them as barbarians, the Britons were, especially in the south-east, already very influenced by Roman culture and civilisation. Roman troops may not have been stationed here but Rome certainly had friends amongst the Britons. in AD 43 the Emperor Claudius decided to put the relationship between Rome and Britain. The Romans, under the personal leadership of Claudius, seized the most important British town in the south, Camulodunum (Colchester), to turn it into a military base. Following dismantling and abandonment in the 4th century the site of the amphitheatre lay derelict and empty for hundreds of years. It was only in the mid 11th century that pressure on space in bustling Saxon and Norman London led to the reoccupation of the area. The excavations uncovered a number of well-preserved timber and wattle buildings, probably domestic houses, animal byres and small workshops. in the early 12th century the first Guildhall was built a few metres to the north. By the 13th century the area was developing rapidly into the focus for the City's self-government and ever grander buildings were added to the complex between then and the 16th century. Before the great changes of the Reformation these included the Guildhall, Guildhall chapel, Guildhall college and library, the church of St Lawrence Jewry, and Blackwell Hall. Of these only the 15th-century Guildhall still stands.
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