Filed under Roman history

The Importance of Archaeology

This is from an article in June’s Current Archaeology, by Sophie Jackson “Revisiting the Temple The Mithras project Back in 1954, Diana van Royen was one of the many thousands of people who queued to see the last weeks of the excavation of London’s Roman Temple of Mithras. This was one of the most extraordinary … Continue reading


Rome, Sink of Iniquity

This is from Christopher Hubert’s The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici: “There were reckoned to be almost 7,000 prostitutes in a population of less than 50,000, most of them working in brothels licenced by the papal authorities and many of them  suffering from syphilis, ‘a kind of illness very common among priests’, … Continue reading

Coal Money

Some more from Highways & Byways of Dorset: “From this curious place comes the “Kimmeridge coal money.” This misunderstood coinage consists of round plates of “jet” from 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter, which appear to have been treasured at one time as articles of value. These discs are neither money, nor are they of … Continue reading

Tearing Down the Sky

I saw this when it first came out back in 2006, but now that I have been reading up on the subject, I tried another viewing. It was a co-production between the BBC and HBO, with mostly British actors in the lead, and filmed at Rome’s cinecitta studios, with a host of local actors and … Continue reading

Caerwent Roman Town

This is an entire Roaman town with a modern town interwoven, so is incredible, yet ordinary at the same time, and the church is not only open to the public, but holds some impressive finds. This was a Roman street, with houses and  workshops: The remains of a villa showing the under floor heating spaces: … Continue reading


This is an amazing little town near Newport, a former Roman town. It houses a good museum with finds, the remains of a Roman leisure centre, an amphitheatre and barracks, all of which are free. The amphitheatre seated some 5,000 people, which is incredible as it is not that big, even with bleachers on top … Continue reading

Romans Changing Britain

From my previous post, it is clear that Romans changed little in the overall landscape of Britain, ie they did not do much deforestation. The Britons had already cleared much of the woodland, and developed a sophisticated agricultural system with different crops on a range of soils, and their methods were continuing to change and … Continue reading

Invisible Locals

The Map of Roman Britain produced by the Ordnance survey appears to show Britain at the time, but it really shows the Roman presence, omitting features of the local settlements. The British landscape a the time of the Romans is generally seen as structured around elite estates centred on Roman style farms, or villae which … Continue reading

British Deforestation

We tend to think that cutting down trees and destroying forests is a recent part of human history, so it is surprising how long it has been going on in these islands. The largest phase of clearing woodlands in the British Isles was in the late Bronze Age, some 3,000 years ago, and continued through … Continue reading

The Better Invaders

“We were your Romans, you know. We might have been your Normans” This is from Tom Stoppard’s Play, Indian Ink,  a comment from a former memsahib to an Indian. It is an intriguing idea, not least because  I wonder how many people would know what she was talking about. Britain has been invaded twice: by the … Continue reading