3

The circumstances of the early Roman city (c. AD 70-150)

The hinterland of London

It is probable that most of the tribal territories of south-east Britain were granted some form of local self-government during the 70s and 80s, and the administrative capitals of these areas consequently witnessed a vigorous public building programme. The evidence of the early Flavian forum in London encourages the belief that London too had been given some form of autonomous government, and if this were the case then surrounding lands may also have been attached to the authority of the city. Archaeological opinion has tended to deny London a dependent territory, partly because it was not the capital of a tribal area and partly because its central role in the commercial and administrative life of the province left it in little need of such lands (Rivet 1964, 138). London could have been modelled on Lyon, the administrative capital of Gaul, which was given a very small territory. London, once self-governing, would, however, have had at least some lands; the city could hardly have been left dependent on neighbouring peoples for its burial grounds and public pasture. It has been suggested that these territories might even have been quite extensive (Sheldon and Scharf 1978, 71) and this too is a possibility worth considering.

The early Flavian reorganization of local government in south-east Britain almost certainly saw a fair amount of territorial readjustment (Branigan 1985, 45). In the pre-Roman period areas of tribal influence had fluctuated considerably and it would not have been too difficult to carve a London territory out of surrounding tribal areas. The lands of the Thames estuary, southern Essex and northern Kent were poorly integrated with the areas further to north and south and the Thames had not always served as a boundary (Dunnett 1975, 28; Detsicas 1983, 5; Pollard 1988, 200). These territories would have been easily divorced from Roman administrative units based on Canterbury and Colchester and were in many senses naturally linked to London. To the south of London a large

-44-

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