4

The city in its prime (c. AD 100-150)

Public buildings

By the end of the first century London had already acquired most of the public buildings it would have needed but this did little to slow the pace of construction. The building programme continued vigorously into the second century, although most later works were concerned with enlarging or replacing earlier structures. London seems to have found its earliest public buildings were inadequate; perhaps it had outgrown them, perhaps the city had been promoted in status (as from municipium to colonia), or perhaps the habit of building was difficult to break. After over two decades of continuous construction work there might well have been a strong lobby of interest pressing the city to find new building projects.

The most imposing of these projects was the complete reconstruction of the forum (Fig. 23). The evidence for the second forum was recently reviewed by Peter Marsden (Marsden 1987), and subsequent work at Leadenhall Court, by a team led by Gustav Milne, has added important detail. Marsden suggests a construction date of c. AD 100 for the second forum, although the more recent investigations suggest that construction work may still have been in progress as late as AD 130 (Brigham 1990). The construction process was both protracted and complicated, and it seems that the new forum was built around the Flavian one which remained standing until a late stage in the building process. The forum covered an area 166 by 167m and the new basilica measured 52.5 by 167m. This had a nave flanked by side aisles with an apsidal-ended tribunal at the east end. A further range of rooms was added alongside the northern aisle. Discoveries at Leadenhall Court suggest that several of the features described by Marsden may not have been part of the original construction; the arcading between the nave and northern aisle perhaps dates to a rebuilding of the early second century and the southern aisle may also have been added at this time (Brigham 1990). Work at Whittington Avenue has shown that the outer portico on the east side of the forum, which had a tile floor, was also a later addition (G. Brown, personal communication) (Fig. 24).

-57-

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