Interactive timeline - History of the RA

  1. Before the Romans: the site of the Tower of London in AD 40, by Ivan Lapper. 1999.

    40 AD

    Before the Romans

    The pre-Roman site of the Tower of London was probably occupied by an Iron Age farm.

  2. The Twilight of the Roman City: the site of the Tower of London in AD 400, by Ivan Lapper. 1999.

    400 AD

    Twilight of the Roman City

    Londinium was remodelled and strengthened in response to the threat of Saxon invasion.

  3. The Conquerer's Castle: the site of the Tower of London in AD 1080, by Ivan Lapper. 1999.

    1080 AD

    The Conqueror's Castle

    Work began on the construction of William the Conqueror's mighty White Tower.

  4. The Castle Enlarged: the site of the Tower of London in AD 1200, by Ivan Lapper. 1999.

    1200 AD

    The Tower Enlarged

    A major expansion of the Tower's defences during the reigns of Richard I and King John.

  5. The Classic Castle: the site of the Tower of London in AD 1240, by Ivan Lapper. 1999.

    1240 AD

    The Classic Castle

    Henry III extended the defences of the Tower and refurbished and enlarged the royal lodgings.

  6. The Apogee of the Medieval Castle: the site of the Tower of London in AD 1300, by Ivan Lapper. 1999.

    1300 AD

    Apogee of the Medieval Castle

    Tower defences extended, to those seen today, by England's greatest warrior king, Edward I.

  7. The Tudor Powerhouse: the site of the Tower of London in AD 1547, by Ivan Lapper. 1999.

    1547 AD

    The Tudor Power House

    During Henry VIII's reign the Offices of Ordnance, Armoury, Mint and Records occupy the Tower.

  8. Showpiece of the Nation: the site of the Tower of London in AD 1700, by Ivan Lapper. 1999.

    1700 AD

    Showplace of the Nation

    After the Restoration in 1660 armouries displays are established to impress the visiting public.

  9. The Great Conflagration: the site of the Tower of London in AD 1841, by Ivan Lapper. 1999.

    1841 AD

    The Great Conflagration

    The Grand Storehouse including two armouries displays is destroyed by fire on 31 Oct 1841.

  10. The Remedievalisation of the Castle: the site of the Tower of London in AD 1890, by Ivan Lapper. 1999.

    1890 AD

    Remedievalisation of the Castle

    50 years of restoration transformed the appearance of the Tower following the fire of 1841.

  11. The Castle at War: the site of the Tower of London in AD 1940, by Ivan Lapper. 1999.

    1940 AD

    The Castle at War

    WWII aerial bombing threatens the Tower. The Main Guard is destroyed on the 29 Dec 1940.

  12. The Tower Today: The site of the Tower of London in AD 1999, by Ivan Lapper. 1999.

    2000 AD

    The Tower Today

    The Tower of London attracts over 2 million visitors per year as a World Heritage Site.

History of the Collection

The Royal Armouries collections are diverse and reflect the changing fashions in collecting arms and armour in Great Britain since the 19th century. Combined with its historic collection, originating in the Tower of London, what survives today is a truly world class collection.

Read the fascinating stories of how each major part of our collections came to be part of the nation’s heritage.

Our collection isn’t a closed one, but ever growing. Through public monies we continue to collect and safeguard the nation’s heritage for future generations to enjoy and to learn from.

The origins of the study of arms and armour lie in the efforts of a small group of 19th and early 20th century gentlemen scholars. Today the field has grown wide in its appeal, from the university trained academic, to the enthusiastic re-enactor.

Within these pages you can gain an insight both to the scholarship and the lives of those early scholars and from our Online Library Catalogue order copies of many of their works.

Did you know?

The first modern rifle

The French 1886 8mm Lebel rifle was the first modern rifle, using smokeless powder in place of the older "gunpowder" and having a small bore.