New education secretary's hopes

Alan Johnson to the Fabian Society yesterday:

“We need to demonstrate that the public sector can outperform the private sector.”

The Government's commitment to raise levels of spending on state schools in line with the funding independent schools enjoy will help, he said.

Read the rest of the TES article.

I remember what the head of my (independent) school used to tell pupils, that they were privileged, not because their families had a lot of money, but because they had parents who cared enough about them and their education to support them in this way.

Money alone won't do it.


Professor Mary Beard joins the bloggers

Cambridge Classics don Mary Beard is now one of the Times' stable of bloggers, under the title A Don's Life.

You'll find it here.

She does not confine herself to classical matters, though there are some interesting (and amusing) items on kissing ancient sculpture and suchlike.

I've arranged to be notified of new items, and will mention those that seem particularly interesting for school Classics.

Train with Roman legions at fun events this month

Events on and around Hadrian's Wall.

Your empire needs you! Train with Roman legions at fun events this month

Published on 23/05/2006 in the News and Star

HERE are some ideas of things to do and places to visit where you find out more about the Romans who lived in our area.

ROMAN FESTIVAL at Birdoswald Roman Fort, near Brampton. from Sunday, May 28 to Monday, May 29, from 11.30am. 2,000 years of history will be brought to life as you discover life in the Roman Empire. There will be Roman soldiers in full armour, falconry, pottery and food. Watch the Imperial Roman Army training, as well as displays of Roman British Cavalry. Tickets cost £5.30 adults/£2.65 children. Call 0870 3331183.

ROAMING ROMANS TRIAL at Birdoswald Roman Fort, Tuesday, May 30 to Sunday, June 4, from 10am.

Some Roman soldiers have left their posts to shelter from a storm and have now got lost. See if you can help to find them – and receive a prize to take home. Tickets £3.80 adults/£1.90 children.

SENHOUSE ROMAN MUSEUM, MARYPORT The Roman fort museum gives an insight into Roman religion and the army. Call 01900 216168.

TULLIE HOUSE MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY, CARLISLE Find out about Hadrian’s Wall and life in the Roman town of Luguvalium.

Call 01228 534781.

THE ROMAN ARMY MUSEUM, Near Haltwhistle. Get an insight into the daily lives of Roman soldiers and take the ‘Eagle’s Eye’ virtual reality tour of Hadrian’s Wall. Open daily from 10am to 6pm.

Call 016977 47485.

For interest rather than for teaching

I see that The Times has a small reduction on the price of The Mirror of the Gods in its paperback format:

The Mirror Of The Gods
Classical Mythology In Renaissance Art

Bull, Malcolm (lecturer, University Of Oxford And Research Fellow Of Wolfson College)

Perhaps the single most revolutionary aspect of the Renaissance was the re-emergence of the gods and goddesses of antiquity. This book surveys this phenomenon and takes the story from the Renaissance to the Baroque. Each chapter focuses on a particular god and recounts the tales about that deity, as they were re-created by artists.

Format: Paperback, 480, 198 X 129
Our Price £11.69
RRP £12.99
Save £1.30

You can order here.

I haven't read the book, but T.J. Clark in the London Review of Books took it very seriously, and it looks like a stimulating read.

Is Boudicca buried in Birmingham?

This BBC news item contains many warnings against taking the claim too seriously, but anyway …

The burial ground of Queen Boudicca could be next to a burger restaurant in Birmingham, it has been claimed.

An excavation is to take place at the site in Kings Norton after evidence it has Roman remains buried there.

Queen Boudicca, who led ancient tribes in battle against the Romans, died in 62 AD, possibly in the Midlands.

It would be a “world-shattering” find, said Councillor Peter Douglas Osborn. But experts warned there is no evidence the site is linked to Boudicca.

“We are hoping that there will be an archaeological exercise next to the McDonalds site in Kings Norton in order to uncover the possible last battle of Queen Boudicca and Seutonius Paulinus,” said Mr Douglas Osborn, a member of Birmingham City Council.

Of a possible find he told BBC Radio Five Live: “It could be England-shattering if not world-shattering.”

Boudicca, also known as Boadicea, became Queen of East Anglia's Iceni tribe when her husband Prasutagus died. She united other Ancient British tribes to fight Roman occupiers.

Her army sacked Colchester and St Albans before facing the Romans, whose main army were marching from north Wales. It is thought the battle may have taken place in the Midlands.

Sceptical experts

But the claim that she was buried in Kings Norton is disputed by Mike Hodder, planning archaeologist at Birmingham City Council.

He said: “There is no doubt that this is an important archaeological site, with remains which are probably Roman in date, but there is no evidence whatsoever of any link with Boadicea.”

Dr Simon Esmonde Cleary, an archaeology expert from Birmingham University, was also sceptical about the Boudicca claims.

He said: “The short answer is we don't know where the battle took place, anybody's guess is as good as anyone else's.

“The last time we had Boudicca was in what is now Hertfordshire. We know the Roman Army was coming down from Wales.”

He said the battle could have taken place anywhere in between.

“It would be fascinating if it were true but, as yet, I haven't seen any evidence it is,” he said.