Ancient history of London timeline: from the Romans to the Normans

The sun rises behind Tower Bridge, on the Thames, London. Ancient history of London, Britain
The sun rises behind Tower Bridge, on the Thames, London. Credit: Clive Jones/Alamy

Our timeline traces the history of London from its Roman origins to the Norman Conquest

While the banks of the winding Thames had already been occupied for millenia by people who would have worshipped the river as a divine being before the Romans arrived, modern London traces its roots back to the Roman conquest of Britain in AD43.

Here we trace the ancient history of London, from the founding of Londinium by the Romans through its Anglo-Saxon rule and Vikings invasion before the Normans took control of the city in 1066.

AD 50

The founding of London
(Londinium) by the Roman Governor of Britain, following the Roman invasion AD 43


Londinium is sacked by Boudicca in rebellion against Roman Rule

Boudicca and her army. Ancient history of London timeline
Boudicca and her army. Credit: Mary Evans Picture Library/Alamy
C. AD180

A wall is built around the city

C. AD250

London flourishes with a population of around 45,000


The Roman army leaves Britain

Roman soldiers. Ancient history of London timeline
Credit: 2d Alan King/Alamy
C. AD600

The Saxons create a new town at Covent Garden, called Lundenwic


The first St Paul’s founded, on the same site occupied by
the current St Paul’s Cathedral


The Viking Danes burn London following years of raids


Alfred the Great reestablishes Anglo-Saxon rule over London

King Alfred the Great statue. Ancient history of London timeline
Credit: ©VisitBritain/Daniel Bosworth

Back under Anglo-Saxon control, London is rebuilt and thrives as Lundenburh. A second fortified borough is established on the south bank at Southwark


Danish King Canute takes control of London, and England


William the Conqueror is crowned king of England at Westminster Abbey

London receives a charter from William the Conqueror that guaranteed the rights of the city’s citizens

Building work on the White Tower at the Tower of London begins


Foundation of St Bartholomew’s Hospital in a wing
of a church


A stone bridge across the Thames replaces a wooden one


A timeline of 18th-century Britain