Roman religion

Reconstruction of Roman temple at Bourton GroundsIron Age and Roman religion was quite similar in that they both had lots of gods. The Romans would identify local gods with their own and replace them. The British god Toutatis, for instance, was identified with Mars, Taranis was linked to Jupiter and so on. Iron Age shrines were often replaced with Roman temples, such as at Bath where a spring of the goddess Sulis was made into baths and a shrine for Minerva. This meant that the Roman’s conquered Briton’s beliefs as well as their land. Later, the Romans, and therefore the Britons, converted to Christianity.


Do a search on Buckinghamshire’s Heritage Portal to find all possible Roman temples in Buckinghamshire. Mark which are which on the map of Roman ritual sites attached to this page. 


Cremation burial at Thornborough under excavationRoman burial

Roman law dictated that all burials had to happen outside town walls and outside settlements. This has meant that in large Roman towns, such as Verulamium (St Albans) and Camulodunum (Colchester), there are many groups of burials or cemeteries on the roads leading out of the town. There were no large towns in what later became Buckinghamshire, and so no large cemeteries have been found. Do a search on Buckinghamshire’s Heritage Portal to find all the Roman period burials in Buckinghamshire and mark them on the map of Roman burials in Buckinghamshire attached to this page. Are there any concentrations, suggesting a nearby settlement?


Some are inhumations and some are cremations. Generally, cremations are earlier while inhumations are later. Most cremations in the Roman period are accompanied by grave goods, objects that were either placed on the pyre with the body or straight into the grave. From your previous search, find out what types of things people are buried with and write them here:




Looking at the list of objects people in the Roman period were buried with, what do you think they believed about the afterlife?  



Aerial photograph of Thornborough Roman barrowsThornborough Roman landscape

There are two Roman barrows at Thornborough, near Buckingham. One was dug into in the 1830s. Do a search on Buckinghamshire’s Heritage Portal to find out where Thornborough is and what was found there. Mark Thornborough on the map of Roman burials. List the grave goods here:




What can this tell us about who was buried there? Circle the answers:


Date?                      1st century AD                            2nd century AD                        3rd century AD

Status?                    High                                          Low

Gender?                   Male                                          Female

Age?                        Child                                         Adult                                       Elderly

Nationality?              Roman                                      Briton                                      German


Several other cremations were found around the mounds during excavation in the 1970s, along with the base of a Roman bridge and a network of Roman roads. Why do you think the Romans wanted to bury people and build barrows over some of the burials along a road?


A Roman temple was also excavated at Bourton Grounds near Thornborough, see reconstruction above. Do a search on Buckinghamshire’s Heritage Portal to find out about it. Find the answers to these questions: 

  1. When was it excavated?
  2. Who excavated it?
  3. What objects made of metal did they find and how did they explain they got there?
  4. What date was the temple?
  5. Was it around at the same time as the barrows?
  6. How did people get to the temple? 



Now you have the answers to questions about Thornborough barrows, burials and temple, write some text as if you were putting up a display board for visitors to read at the two sites.


Go back to find more Changes in the landscape.