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London’s Roman Tools

Craft, agriculture and experience in an ancient city

Owen Humphreys
Publication Year:
504 pages, Illustrated throughout in colour and black and white. 221 figures.
Sub-series name:
Archaeology of Roman Britain, 3
BAR number:


London was the administrative centre of Roman Britain, and its largest city. After centuries of excavation, Londinium is one of the best understood cities in the Empire. London is also home to one of the most exceptional collections of craft and agricultural tools in the Roman world. London’s Roman Tools moves beyond typological analysis to show how Roman artefacts can illuminate the lives of ordinary people. Using a framework of practice theory, it explores the lives of Roman craft and agricultural workers in London; a diverse and changing group which has rarely been examined previously. Also provided is an illustrated catalogue of 837 Roman tools from London. Many are exceptionally well preserved, some are unknown elsewhere, and most have not previously been published. A detailed typological discussion synthesises decades of developments in French and German literature with new insights from the London material.

Owen Humphreys is a Senior Registered Finds Specialist for Museum of London Archaeology, with an MA in Medieval Archaeology and a PhD in Archaeology from the University of Reading. Owen has also worked in field archaeology and has undertaken Post-Doctoral research exploring London’s Roman leatherwork, and local archaeology in East Berkshire.

‘Very well illustrated and researched catalogue of an exceptional group of objects and an insight into activities and lives of Roman Londoners. An essential resource for specialists and for general readers.’ London Archaeological Prize judging panel

‘This well-researched and extensively illustrated book will appeal to anyone interested in Britannia’s largest city or Roman crafts and working lives.’ Michael Marshall, Current Archaeology, November 2021

‘This is an impressive piece of research. It will undoubtedly become a key reference work on Roman tools and craft practices.’ Professor Ellen Swift, University of Kent

‘This publication will act as an important comparative resource for an international audience interested in the archaeology of Roman London and more specifically its tools.’ Dr Philippa Walton, University of Reading

‘This volume provides an essential work of reference on Roman iron tools. Not only is it an essential source for the archaeology of London, but it is also a key work of reference for the subject across the Roman Empire.’ Professor Martin Millett, University of Cambridge

Table of Contents (B663_Humphreys_9781407357386_-_ToC.pdf, 262 Kb) [Download]

Introduction (B663_Humphreys_9781407357386_-_Introduction.pdf, 1,079 Kb) [Download]