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Primary homework help romans facts

Roman Britain and the Roman Empire

The ancient Romans were based in Rome in Italy, but they ruled over land that stretched far beyond the borders of Rome. This was called the Roman Empire, and it covered large parts of land all around the Mediterranean Sea – and even part of Great Britain.

The Romans got this land mostly by fighting battles with other groups of people, like the Celts in Britain – when the Romans won, they’d get more territory to add to the Empire. This meant that Roman culture had a huge influence on other cultures, and it’s why finding Roman artefacts (like coins), and ruins of Roman walls and buildings (like Hadrian’s Wall) is so common in the British Isles today.

Top 10 facts

  1. Rome was a republic before it became an empire – it was governed in a different way, and had rulers that were elected through votes.
  2. The Roman Empire began in 27 BC, and after that single emperors ruled, one after the other, until their deaths. The first emperor was Caesar Augustus.
  3. Rome had a mix of very good emperors, like Augustus, and very bad emperors, like Nero.
  4. The first 200 years of Roman Empire is called the Pax Romana, which means ‘Roman peace’. It was a time of great prosperity for the Romans.
  5. The Romans had already won a lot of land through battles when Rome was a Republic. One famous military commander was Julius Caesar.
  6. Roman armies were known for being excellent in battle – they used their weapons well, they worked well as a team and they nearly always defeated their enemies.
  7. The Romans invaded Britain and started ruling it in 43 AD.
  8. When the Romans were in Britain, they based themselves in London, which they called Londinium.
  9. The Romans left Britain in 410 AD because the armies were needed to defend other parts of the Empire. The Anglo-Saxons were the next people to rule England.
  10. The Roman Empire lasted for a long time. It split into two parts in 285 AD, with the Western Empire ending in 476 and the Eastern Empire being overthrown in 1453.

Roman Empire Timeline

Caesar Augustus became the first Roman Emperor, which marked the start of the Roman Empire; the Pax Romana began

A fire in Rome lasted for six days, which affected most of the city – it is known as the ‘Great Fire’

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Did you know?

  • The first Roman emperor, in 27 BC, was Caesar Augustus, Julius Caesar’s adopted son. That’s why 27 BC marks the start of the Roman Empire.
  • In the Roman Empire, coins were more than just money – they were ways for the emperor to tell the people about the great things they had done (or wanted people to think they had done). A coin could be minted that showed pictures of the emperor with their name or other words and symbols on it.
  • The Romans invaded Britain in 43 AD. Julius Caesar had tried to conquer Britain a couple of times before – in 55 and 54 BC – but hadn’t been successful.
  • The Romans decided they didn’t want to take over land as far north as Scotland, so they built a wall to separate England and Scotland and keep out the Celtic tribes who lived there. This is called Hadrian’s Wall because Hadrian was the Roman emperor at the time. You can still see the wall today.
  • When the Romans arrived in Britain, they got to work straight away building roads and forts so they could transport soldiers around the country. They also built things that they would have used if they were still in Italy, like bath houses and villas.
  • Britain was just a very small part of the Roman Empire. The Romans ruled land all around the Mediterranean Sea, including parts of northern Africa and around the Black Sea.
  • Roman armies were very well trained and organised. They were hard to beat, which helped the Roman Empire expand so quickly and conquer more lands.
  • Roman soldiers had to be at least 20 years old when they joined the army, and they had to stay in the army for 25 years. After that, they were rewarded well with some money or land that they could farm.

Roman Britain gallery

  • Hadrian’s Wall
  • The location of Hadrian’s Wall
  • The Roman Baths in the city of Bath
  • A statue of Caesar Augustus
  • What Roman soldiers would have looked like
  • A gold coin with Emperor Hadrian on it
  • A modern-day re-enactment of a Roman chariot rce
  • Modern-day people recreating a Roman legion
  • A Roman mosaic in the British Museum



Before it was ruled by emperors, Rome was a republic and ruled by the senate along with two consuls leading.

Roman emperors ruled for their entire lives, but their succession didn’t work like kings in a monarchy – someone in their family wasn’t guaranteed to be the next emperor. The senate was still around even though Rome wasn’t really a republic anymore, and if they or the Roman military didn’t like the next person in line then they’d find someone else to be emperor instead.

The people running things in Britain when the Roman armies invaded in 43 AD were the Iron Age Celts. Determined to take over the lands Julius Caesar had tried to conquer almost a hundred years before, the Roman emperor Cladius began the conquest of Britain by landing on the southeast coast and gradually laying siege to more and more hillforts where the Britons, people who belonged to different Celtic tribes, lived.

Some Celts accepted the fact that the Romans were in the land they called Britannia to stay, but others still tried to fight to get them to leave. In 60 AD there was a significant uprising, led by Queen Boudica of the Iceni tribe in East Anglia. Although the Britons were initially successful and destroyed Colchester, the Roman capital, they were defeated in 61 AD.

The Romans advanced into Wales and Scotland under the command of a governor called Agricola, but withdrew from Scotland after his death in 84 AD. In 122 AD the Roman emperor Hadrian decided to build a frontier wall to keep the northern tribes from attacking and protect Roman Britain. Hadrian’s Wall was the largest structure in the Roman emore and stretched for 75 miles (120km) across the north of England, between the rivers Tyne and Solway.The Wall marked the official border between the Roman empire and the tribes who lived in Caledonia (Scotland).

The key to the Romans’ invasion of Britain was the strength of their army, the largest and most powerful military force of its day.

This is how Roman armies were divided up and organised:

  • A Roman army consisted of 30 legions, with each legion having between 4,000 and 6,000 legionaries (certain kinds of solders) in it.
  • A legion was commanded by a legate, and had 10 cohorts.
  • A cohort had six troops.
  • A troop had 80 legionaries, also called centuries.
  • Centuries were led by a centurion.

Roman soldiers had different roles and responsibilities:

  • Legionaries were paid the most and were the most highly trained.
  • Auxiliaries were soldiers who weren’t Roman citizens; they weren’t paid as much as legionaries and did jobs like guarding forts or being in the front line of battle.
  • Artillery soldiers were in charge of catapults, which could fire things into the air and over onto the enemy’s armies or buildings.
  • The cavalry were soldiers who rode horses when they fought.
  • The infantry were soldiers who marched on foot.

Soldiers fought with both their weapons (swords, spears and javelins) and with their shield, which was called a scutum. They’d hold up their scutum to defend themselves in battle, or they’d join with other soldiers to form one big shield if they wanted to advance. Soldiers on the inside of the group held their scutum up over their head, while the soldiers on the outside of the group held their scutum out to form a ring. This formation was called the testudo, which is the Latin word for tortoise. Nothing was going to get past that!

After Roman rule was established in Britain, the Roman army began to act as a peacekeeping force and the Romans brought their customs and culture to their new lands.

They built towns around England to help them govern it better and keep organised, which the Celts didn’t really have before. The largest one was London, which they called Londinium; by the end of the first century London had become one of the great cities of the Roman empire. Other large towns were Colchester, St. Albans and Aquae Sulis (now Bath).

Roman towns were all laid out in the same way – each had straight streets shaped in a grid pattern, with buildings like a public bath house, temple, aqueducts and an amphitheatre. They also had forums, which were big open squares where people could set up stalls to sell things. A lot of these features were in Rome, so having them in these new towns in England helped the Romans feel more at home.

Roads were also and important part of Roman life (have you ever heard the saying, “All roads lead to Rome!”?). Around 2000 miles (or 3200 km) of paved roads running between towns or cities were constructed in Britain by the Romans.

The Roman emperors were a mixed group of some good rulers, and some very bad rulers. But whether the emperors were good or bad, things worked out pretty well for the Roman Empire during its first 200 years – this was called the Pax Romana (‘Roman peace’) and was a time of great prosperity.

Eventually, the Roman Empire became too big to rule very well. In 285 AD, Emperor Diocletian split the Roman Empire in two halves, East and West. The Western Empire ended in 476, and the Eastern Empire carried on until 1453.

Britain was part of the Western Empire, but the Romans left it in 410 AD, well before the end of the Western Empire. This was because the soldiers and leaders who ruled Britain were needed to defend other parts of the Empire. All of the roads, buildings, coins, forts and other things that the Romans had created in Britain were left, which is why we can find so many things from the Roman period around England and Wales today.

Roman names to know:

Hannibal (247-183 BC) – Hannibal was a military leader from Carthage, who fought against the Romans in the Punic Wars. He is known for bringing an army of soldiers and elephants over the Pyrenees Mountains and the Alps into northern Italy, which at first was successful in fighting against Rome. The Roman military eventually worked out how to beat Hannibal’s army and won, but Hannibal’s tactics are still thought to be pretty impressive today.

Augustus (63 BC-14 AD) – Augustus was the first emperor of Rome. After Julius Caesar died, Augustus formed a new government with Marc Antony and Marcus Lepidus – a triumvirate. It fell apart about 10 years later though, with Augustus the only one left to rule. He worked out new laws that formed the Roman Empire, which was then governed by one person for their lifetime.

Claudius (10 BC-54 AD) – Claudius was the fourth Roman emperor. The invasion of Britain happened while he was Emperor, and he was responsible for building new roads and aqueducts across other parts of the Empire.

Nero (37-68 AD) – Nero became the Roman emperor after Claudius. He spent a lot of money building theatres and having athletic competitions, and he became pretty unpredictable. If he thought someone was threatening his power, he’d usually have them killed. He was emperor during the Great Fire of Rome, and some people thought he started it himself so he’d have room to build a new palace. Whether or not that’s true, the Roman senate became more and more frustrated with him and told him he was going to be arrested and put to death. Rather than have that happen, Nero killed himself.

Hadrian (76-138 AD) – Hadrian was the 14th Roman emperor, and ruled during a very successful time for Roman Britain. He is known for having a wall built along the border of England and Scotland (Hadrian’s Wall) and for rebuilding the Pantheon, a temple to the gods that the Romans believed in. He is also the third in a group of five emperors called ‘the Five Good Emperors’.

Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD) – Marcus Aurelius was the last Roman emperor of the Pax Romana, and also the last of the ‘Five Good Emperors’. The Roman Empire expanded even further during his reign.

Constantine (272-337 AD) – Constantine the Great was proclaimed emperor in York. He was the first emperor who was also a Christian, and he tried to unify the Roman Empire again after it had been split into the East and West. He moved the capital from Rome to a new city which he called Byzantium, later called Constantinople after him. Today, it is called Istanbul, which is the largest city in Turkey.

Primary homework help romans facts

The Romans spoke and wrote Latin.

Roman families were big because sons lived with their parents even after marriage. A typical Roman family consited of father, mother, children, married sons with their family and slaves.

The father was the most important member of the family.

Most children did not go to school .

Schools were not free in Roman times, parents had to pay for their children to have a tutor or teacher. The poor Romans couldn’t afford to educate their children so the boys learned a trade from their fathers and the girls learned household skills such as sewing and cooking from their mothers.

Schools were built in towns and there were not many of them, so many wealthy parents employed a slave, who was well educated, to teach their sons. The slave was called a pedagogue.

When did the children go to school?

Both boys and girls went to school from ages 6-12.
Lessons began at dawn and were finished by early afternoon.

They learnt to read and write Latin.

Did the children have exercise books?

The Romans did not have school books, instead they wrote on wax tablets using a pointed metal stylus . If they made a mistake, all they had to do was smooth the wax flat with the opposite end of the stylus.

Roman Numerals / numbers

© Copyright – please read
All the materials on these pages are free for homework and classroom use only. You may not redistribute, sell or place the content of this page on any other website or blog without written permission from the author Mandy Barrow.

©Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

I teach computers at The Granville School and St. John’s Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.

Primary homework help romans facts

The Romans came to Britain nearly 2000 years ago and changed our country. Even today, evidence of the Romans being here, can be seen in the ruins of Roman buildings, forts, roads, and baths can be found all over Britain.

The Romans invaded other countries too. The Roman Empire covered much of Europe, north Africa, and the Middle East.
(see map)

Who were the Romans?

The Romans lived in Rome, a city in the centre of the country of Italy .

One day, some years before Jesus Christ was born, the Romans came to Britain.

Who founded Rome?

According to the Roman legend, Romulus was the founder of Rome. Romulus and his twin brother Remus were the sons of the God Mars. When they were very young they were abandoned by the banks of the River Tiber and left to fend for themselves. Luckily for them they were found by a she-wolf who took pity on them fed them with her milk. The boys were later found by a shepherd who raised them. The boys grew up to be very strong and clever and they decided to build a town on the spot where the Shepherd had found them. They named their town Rome.

When did the Romans invade Britain?

First invasion – Caesar’s first raid

In August 55 B.C. (55 years before Jesus was born) the Roman general, Emperor Julius Caesar invaded Britain. He took with him two Roman legions. After winning several battles against the Celtic tribes (Britons) in south-east England he returned to France.

Second invasion – Caesar’s second raid

The following summer (in 54 B.C.) Caesar came to Britain again landing at Walmer near Deal in Kent. This time he brought with him no fewer than five legions (30,000 foot soldiers) and 2,000 cavalrymen (horse riders). This time the Romans crossed the River Thames. After more fighting, the British tribes promised to pay tribute to Rome and were then left in peace for nearly a century.

Third and final invasion

Nearly one hundred years later, in 43 A.D. (43 years after Jesus was born), Emperor Claudius organised the final and successful Roman invasion of Britain. General Aulus Plautius led four legions with 25,000 men, plus an equal number of auxiliary soldiers. They crossed the Channel in three divisions, landing at Richborough, Dover, and Lympne.

The biggest battle was fought on the banks of the River Medway, close to Rochester. It went on for two days before the Celtic tribes retreated.

Many tribes tried to resist the Romans. It took about four years for the invaders to finally gain control over southern England, and another 30 years for them to conquer all of the West Country and the mountains and valleys of Wales. The battle for Yorkshire and the remainder of northern England was still underway in AD 70.

The first Roman city was Camulodunum also called Colonia Vitricencis. (We know it by the name of Colchester.) It was the seat of Roman power and governance of Brittania until sacked during the Boudiccan revolt. London was then established as a seat of governance, and only became important after the Camulodunum event.

Why did the Romans invade Britain?

Why the Romans came to Britain is not quite certain. Two reasons have been suggested:

  1. The Romans were cross with Britain for helping the Gauls (now called the French) fight against the Roman general Julius Caesar.
  2. They came to Britain looking for riches – land, slaves, and most of all, iron, lead, zinc, copper, silver and gold.

How long did the Romans stay in Britain?

The Romans remained in Britain from 43 AD to 410 AD. That is almost four hundred years (four centuries).

What lanuage did the Romans speak?

The Romans spoke a form of Latin known as vulgar Latin. It was quite different from the Classical Latin that we learn today.

Why did the Romans leave Britain?

Their homes in Italy were being attacked by fierce tribes and every soldier was needed.

What did the Romans call London?

The Romans called London ‘Londinium‘.

The River Thames was quick way to transport goods between Britain and the Continent. The Romans saw this and built the town of Londinium around the river’s main crossing point.
Find out more about Roman London

Why was the Roman Empire important?

The Romans, even today, play an important part in our lives. Many of the things we do or have originated from the Romans.

The Romans gave us

  • Language
    The language we used today was developed from the Romans. The Romans spoke and wrote in Latin and many of our words are based on Latin words.
  • The Calendar
    Did you know that the calendar we use today is more than 2,000 years old? It was started by Julius Caesar, a Roman ruler. It is based on the movement of the earth around the sun, and so is called the ‘solar calendar.’ The solar calendar has 365 days a year, and 366 days every leap year, or every fourth year. The names of our months are taken from the names of Roman gods and rulers. The month ‘July,’ in fact, is named after Julius Caesar himself!
  • Laws and a legal system
    The laws and ways we determine what to do with someone who is accused of breaking a law came originally from the Roman Empire.
  • The Census
    The Roman Empire was huge and included millions of people living over a large area. How did they keep track of all these people? Easy! They counted them! The Roman Empire began the practice of taking a census, or a ‘count,’ of all the people within its boundaries every so often. Today, many countries like ours take a census every 10 years.

The Romans also gave us:

  • straight roads
  • central heating
  • concrete
  • aqueducts (bridges for water)

Use the links, top left, for more information about the Romans.

romans, woodlands romans, roman britain, hadrian’s wall, the roman empire in britain, romans celts britain, roman army in britain, roman invasion in britain, roman emperor britain, roman empire for kids, ancient rome, the roman army for kids, roman gods for kids, hadrian’s wall, romans roman timeline for kids, romans for kids roman army, Roman food, Roman clothing, Roman soldiers

© Copyright – please read
All the materials on these pages are free for homework and classroom use only. You may not redistribute, sell or place the content of this page on any other website or blog without written permission from the author Mandy Barrow.

©Copyright Mandy Barrow 2013

I teach computers at The Granville School and St. John’s Primary School in Sevenoaks Kent.