What the Romans did for us

"What the Romans did for us" is based on a poem by Jon Bratton.

It was inspired by a very funny scene in the movie "Life of Brian" where a group of bitter freedom fighters (called "The People's Front of Judea") angrily discuss the contribution of their Roman overlords.

When you have finished reading the poem, please scroll down a little further to find out more.

What the Romans did for us

Roman roads were long and straight
You would not need much steering.
They really were a triumph of
Ancient engineering.
Now, every schoolchild knows
About the Roman roads,
But Romans gave us so much more,
Yes, they invented loads.

Aqueducts – those big arched bridges
Which brought the water down
From the rivers in the hills
To the folk in town.

They gave us public libraries, 
Great if you were a keen reader.
Before then books were hard to find -
There were no Kindles either.

The Romans built some public baths,
They built the sewers too.
Presumably, before they came,
The whole place smelled of poo!

They gave us apples, pears, and grapes,
Cabbages, turnips, carrots, peas.
Thanks to them we can now all eat
Our five-a-day with ease.

Glass for windows was another
Great invention of Rome’s.
And central heating too keeps us
Warm inside our homes.

They invented the calendar,
It’s just as well because
Without it you would never know
When your birthday was.

They gave us the police force and
Invented the street light.
Before then it was quite unsafe
To walk the streets at night.

In fashion, men wore the “toga” –
A big white woollen sheet;
It was draped from the shoulders to
The sandals on their feet.

So let’s give thanks, they left behind
So much when they had gone. 
And let us give thanks also that
Wearing togas never caught on.


Facts about what the Romans Did

Roman Centurian, by Elliot Gallacher (age 12) from Bristol
  • When the Romans came to Britain, the soldiers built 10,000 miles of roads. They built the roads straight so that the army could travel quickly from place to place. Many of the roads we use today are built on top of old Roman roads.

  • The Romans built many towns in Britain, such as York, Bath, St Albans, and London. Towns with names that end in -caster, -chester, or -cester were also built by the Romans.

  • They built public baths in many towns. This was a new idea.

  • The Romans dis like to make sure towns had clean, fresh water. They dug wells and built aqueducts to bring clean water to the towns from the hills.

  • The Romans were the first to build public toilets in Britain.

  • Roman houses were the first in Britain to be built using concrete and glass, and they were the first to have central heating.

  • Many of the foods we eat today were first brought to Britain by the Romans, such as apples, cherries, pears, and chicken.

  • The Romans first had the idea of selling hot food from shops and bars. They invented take-away food.

  • The Romans did gave us our calendar, with seven days in a week, 365 in a year, and 366 in a leap year. Many of the months are names after Roman gods and emperors.

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