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The early port

Roman London
Anglo-Saxon London
Medieval London
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Roman amphora with olives.
View full size imageA Roman amphora that was dredged from the River Thames in 1983. © NMM
In the first century AD, the invading Romans established a settlement called Londinium on the River Thames.

They started building at the point furthest down river where they could construct a bridge.

Londinium became an important Roman trading centre and by the Middle Ages, London had become the capital of England.

By this time almost two-thirds of the country's trade went through the port.

Opportunities and services

London was the royal, administrative, judicial, commercial and cultural centre of Britain. It offered merchants opportunities and services that other British ports could not.

Maritime London timeline

  • c50 - Londinium founded by the Romans; cuts dug out of the river bank serve as quays   
  • c900 - Ethelredshithe quay founded
  • 1078 - Tower of London started as a symbol of Norman power
  • 1337-1453 - London becomes a major shipbuilding and supply centre during the Hundred Years' War with France

Britain and the world timeline 

  • 43 - Romans invade Britain
  • 410 - Romans leave Britain
  • 871-899 - Reign of King Alfred of Wessex
  • 1016-35 - Reign of King Canute
  • 1066 - Norman Conquest
  • 1066-89 - Reign of King William the Conqueror
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Find out more
Fact fileRichard (Dick) Whittington
Medieval mercer and Mayor of London
Fact fileKing Canute
The king who could stop the sea?
GalleriesVideoMaritime London video gallery
From Roman settlement to today's Docklands, explore the history of maritime London
National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
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