The Celts migrated to the British Isles from the Central Europe in the 9th century BC. This is the period to which the legend of King Lear, immortalized by Shakespeare, dates back. By the time the Roman conquest era rolled around the Isles were populated by over 30 tribes of Britons along with their kings and Druid priests. The Romans attempted to conquer the Isles long before a small settlement started growing at the mouth of the river Thames near the North Sea. Julius Caesar had seen only marshes here while crossing the Thames, and only 97 years later, in 43 AD, the Roman legions of Claudius discovered a stronghold here, which they promptly named Londinium. It began to be surrounded by villages, trade started booming, and by 60 AD the stronghold turned into a town, whose inhabitants settled on the hill slopes, where the City is now located.
In 61 AD the courageous Celtic Queen Boudica with her British Iceni tribe plundered and burned Londinium, but the Romans restored it, built the first bridge across the Thames and erected a forum, an amphitheatre, a basilica and Roman thermae where the modern City now stands. In 122 AD, timing it to the arrival of the Emperor Adrian, London Wall was built, and some of its ruins are still visible near the the Museum of London today.
In 410 AD the last Roman soldier left Londinium. The town was destroyed, yet the Celts began building their own structures on top of the Roman ruins. The Isles had been suffering from attacks of Anglo-Saxons, forcing Celtic tribes to move away from towns. In 456 AD there were 7 Anglo-Saxon kingdoms: East Anglia, Essex, Kent, Mercia, Northumbria, Sussex, Wessex. The Britons fled to Wales, Cornwall, Bretagne. In 495 a Saxon leader Cerdic landed in Wessex and became its king, also making London its capital. At the beginning of the 7th century Roman Christians arrived to London from Rome and built the wooden St. Paul's church. Kings of Wessex had been attempting to unite all Anglo-Saxon kingdoms to form an alliance against the Britons; they succeeded only in 829, and the Kingdom of England was born.
Starting from the 9th century, the Vikings had been tormenting the Isles with repeated forays, wrecking London in 851, which recovered only by 886, when the Saxon king Alfred the Great made it the kingdom capital again. In 1016 a Danish viking named Cnut the Great conquered London again and became King of Denmark, Norway and England, but after deaths of his sons the kingdom fell apart. There are no remaining monuments from that era in London today. With Christianity spreading across the islands, monasteries and first wooden churches appeared in London at the end of the 9th century. The only surviving structures are the constructions of Wessex King Edward the Confessor (1004-1066), who was among the few canonized kings who earned their divine status by their deeds instead of by martyrdom. Westminster Palace and Westminster Abbey had been built around that time as well.
The article by Irina Sukharnikova, translation by Ekaterina Ryabova; specially for Sweet Home Abroad