The Roman Room System
Remembering Grouped Information
The Roman Room technique, also known as the Method of Loci, is an ancient and effective way of remembering information where its structure is not important.
How to Use the Roman Room System
To use the technique, imagine a room that you know well, such as your sitting room, bedroom, office or classroom. Within the room are objects. Associate images representing the information you want to remember with the objects in the room. To recall information, simply take a tour around the room in your mind, visualizing the known objects and their associated images.
The technique can be expanded by going into more detail, and keying information to be remembered to smaller objects. Alternatively you can open doors from your room into other rooms and use the objects in them as well. As you need them, you can build extensions to your rooms in your imagination, and fill them with objects that would logically be there.
You can use other rooms to store other categories of information.
There is no need to restrict this information to rooms: you could use a landscape or a town you know well, and populate it with memory images.
The Roman Room technique is just one way of representing your cognitive map of the information in an easily accessible way.
See the introduction to this chapter for information on how to enhance the images used for this technique.
For example, I can use my sitting room as a basis for the technique. In this room I have the following objects:
Table, lamp, sofa, large bookcase, small bookcase, CD rack, telephone, television, DVD player, chair, mirror, black and white photographs, etc.
I may want to remember a list of World War I war poets:
Rupert Brooke, G.K. Chesterton, Walter de la Mare, Robert Graves, Rudyard Kipling, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, W.B. Yates
I could visualize walking through my front door. Within this image, someone has painted a picture on it showing a scene from the Battle of the Somme. In the center of the picture is a man sitting in a trench writing in a dirty exercise book.
I walk into the sitting room, and look at the table. On the top is RUPERT the Bear sitting in a small BROOK (we do not need to worry about where the water goes in our imagination!) This codes for Rupert Brooke.
Someone seems to have done some moving: a CHEST has been left on the sofa. Some jeans (Alphabet System: G=Jeans) are hanging out of one drawer, and some cake has been left on the top (K=Cake). This codes for G K Chesterton.
The lamp has a small statuette of a brick WALL over which a female horse (MARE) is about to jumping. This codes for Walter de la Mare.
The Roman Room technique is similar to the Journey method. It works by pegging images coding for information to known things, in this case to objects in a room.
The Roman Room technique is most effective for storing lists of unlinked information, while the journey method is better for storing lists of ordered items.