BUILDYOURMEMORY.COM / A mnemonics and memory improvement resource
Mnemonics and memory / Build Your Memory
roman room statue

How memory operates
Why we forget
Observation and memory
Using mnemonics to link together memories
Mnemonics to master a foreign language
Mnemonics to remember numbers - The number/rhyme system
Mnemonics to remember your dreams
Advanced number mnemonics - Pegging
Mnemonics for quotations
Mnemonics to remember abstract symbols and letters
The Roman Room or journey system
Mnemonics to remember names and faces
Mnemonics for rememberring appointments - The Mental Diary
How to combine the systems - The Mental Database

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The Roman room system

The Roman room system, sometimes referred to as the Journey method, has been around (perhaps not surprisingly) since the time of the Romans. In fact it possibly dates back even further.
The method combines Linking with Pegging. Reinforcing these methods by staging them in a familiar setting. A setting that the Roman in question would have absolutely no difficulty at all in visualising.

Broadly speaking the method goes something like this.

The Roman would begin by creating a mental picture of there home, with their more familiar household items and decorations, mirrors, statues, chairs etc, taking on the function of peg images. He would then attach events and memory cues onto these pegs.

For example, if the Roman wanted to remember a list of things that needed to be done during the course of a particular day, he would mentally journey through his front door and then travel around the various corridors and rooms of his home, glancing at all of the paraphernalia that adorned his rooms as he went by.

He would then observe all of the important objects, such as statues, mirrors etc that he owned and then use the more prominent of these as pegs, linking an image relating in some way to what he wanted to remember to them.

Here’s an example. If he wanted to remember to buy his son a present for his birthday, then he might picture his son with a small group of his friends, sitting around a table in one of the rooms of the house, celebrating the boy’s birthday.

Alternatively, if the citizen wanted to remember to buy a new sword, then he might visualise one of his statues waving around a huge golden sword as he walked by.

If on the other hand he wished to remember to take a look at a new chariot, down at Crazy Cicero’s used Chariot dealership, then he might imagine a horse drawn chariot, charging down the length of his hall.

He might have arranged a meeting with a friend at the baths. To remember this, he could try picturing his dripping wet friend, leaning against one of the columns of the hall, with a towel wrapped around his waist looking anxiously at his sand timer.

Now in order to go over the above list, all that the Roman citizen would need to do, would be to simply close his eyes and mentally journey through the rooms of his house, making note of all that is unusual or out of place (the memory cues). Then the tasks that he needed to remember to do in that particular day would simply present themselves to him.

Roman Room image

The Modern Version.

The above system may be applied to any home, not just a Roman one. Admittedly your average modern home is not exactly brimming over with columns and statues, however TV sets, computers, the humble garage and a variety of ornaments can easily be used to serve the same function.

The method involved is exactly the same as the one outlined in the previous section of this site.

All that is required is for you to take the time to mentally journey through your home, picking the more noticeable (and preferably permanent) of your brick-a-brack, such as chairs, tables, doors, beds, or TV sets and then selecting them as your homes peg images.
To use the method you simply retake the journey, linking whatever you wish to recall to your homes peg images.

The Roman room system has a large variety of possible applications. For example, you could use it to memorise and recollect such easily forgettable things as anniversaries or birthdays.

You might also choose to use the Roman room system to remember such things as appointments with the bank manager, or even that bringer of pain - the dentist (if you really wanted to).

This last example could be easily accomplished by simply visualising the dentist sitting on your sofa, with a large drill clenched firmly in his hands – of course such an image might put you off going to the dentist at all.

The picture that you choose is not really important. What is important, is that the event that you want to remember is linked strongly to an object in your home, or even a particular area of your home. For example a television set, or the hallway.

The Journey Method

A slight modification of the Roman Room system is known as the Journey Method. In this method the journey through a Roman room is replaced with another kind of journey. For example your journey to work in the morning.

Using your journey to work in the morning to peg information onto is a good choice. After all if you have worked in the same place for more than a few weeks, you should know the route almost as well as you know your way around your own home. And there are many pegs to use in this journey – from smashing your alarm clock against the wall in the morning (well that’s what I do anyway), to closing the front door of your house as you leave for work, getting in your car, driving along the motorway, parking your car – the list can be very long.

Some more examples for you to consider are listed below.

Example Journeys

  1. If you are a student, then the trip to your University might be a good choice. Or even more useful might be the walk around your campus. In my experience, the typical University is a rabbit warren of corridors, classrooms and Lecture halls. All ideal peg images. Then of course there is always the student bar. A venue that most students know very well!
  2. If you live in a relatively small town or village, then maybe use a trip around the town centre as your journey. Using such images as the Market square or the Butchers window as your pegs.
  3. If you are a big computer game buff, then maybe the levels of a favourite game could be used. There is usually a more than ample supply of quite graphic peg images to use in most of today’s 3D shootemups.
  4. A walk around a local museum or art gallery may be a useful journey to use.
  5. Or perhaps a well-known country walk would fit the bill. Rivers, old trees and hills can all be used as peg images.

The list of choices could go on, but I think that you probably get the idea!

My Choice

Any one of the above journeys – or even all of them – could be used to peg information onto. Or you could just pick your own. In most peoples lives there are a large variety to choose from.

Many people however, take a different approach. Creating an entirely fictional journey to use. They manufacture a castle or palace to navigate around. Generating an imagined environment all of there own. Full of ballrooms and banquette halls, sprawling gardens and outlandish architecture.

The benefits of this method are obvious and strong.

An imagined environment does not change, unless you decide to make the changes. It can also be populated with objects and images that would be impossible in the real world. Dragons, floating islands or even long dead film stars can be a part of your journey. Making it very visual and a good source of memorable pegs.

One thing to note however, is that the journey must be imprinted firmly in your mind before you start using it. The route has to be so familiar, that you can go through it with the bare minimum of mental effort. Otherwise when you begin to link memories onto your chosen peg images, you will soon find that the whole journey becomes a confused jumble of memory and imagination. Becoming near impossible to extract any useful information from.

So take the time to imprint the journey in your mind. An hour or two should be sufficient. Then you will reap the benefits of this very useful and fun system.

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