The Frontiers of the Roman Empire - the EU’s greatest archaeological monument

The Frontiers of the Roman Empire is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the largest archaeological monument in the EU and amongst the largest in the World.   Its diverse elements include some of the best preserved, finest and most dramatic monuments to Rome’s past glory  – forts, towns, ports and villas, walls and waterways, signal stations and amazing objects ranging from magnificent sculpture and beautiful bronzes to fascinating personal letters and touching life stories. All this amongst some of Europe’s finest scenery, accessible through a network of footpaths, cycleways and waterways with fine local food and drink to sustain you!

The Frontiers of the Roman Empire extend for thousands of kilometres across Europe, from the north of Britain, along the Rhine and Danube to the Black Sea, passing through some of Europe’s finest scenery.  Today significant parts of these frontiers are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Frontiers of the Roman Empire – the largest ancient monument in Europe and one of the largest in the world. The frontiers extended beyond Europe too, through the Near East and North Africa - A truly vast territory!

The Frontiers defined the Roman world, separating it from the Barbarians beyond. Far from being simply a defensive barrier though, the river frontiers in particular were the focus of commerce and trade both within and beyond the Empire. Cosmopolitan towns thrived on these great trade routes and were endowed with fine building and monuments expressing to the world the splendour and prestige of the Roman state. Alongside these towns were complex systems of defence and control including forts, signal stations, roads and supply depots many of them showing off the genius of Roman engineers and architects.

The remains of these impressive buildings are today amongst the best preserved of all the monuments to Rome’s impressive past and its legacy to modern Europe. To journey along the frontiers, on foot, by bike or by boat is to journey to the heart of the Roman Empire, coming face to face with its splendour, its multi-cultural heart, its citizens and with the problems and paradoxes that all Empires face, of controlling and protecting vast areas and populations with different ethnic, social and religious identities.