Cawthorn Roman Camps guide published

THE story behind Roman military defences in North Yorkshire have been unveiled in a new guide.

The three Roman military fortifications known as Cawthorn Camps was bought by the North York Moors National Park in 1983.

The 103-acre site is four miles from Pickering and the fortifications were built between AD90 and AD130.

Initial findings in the 1920s suggested the site was a training camp but later study found only one was a training camp.

The other two fortifications were permanent garrisons for Roman soldiers.

Now the authority has created a new revised guide to the historic site with information and illustrations.

It also contains an easily accessible one-mile loop walk giving an
insight into life and the events that took place on the land.

Mark Lewis, the park authority’s interpretation officer, said: “It
is amazing to think that the banks and ditches at Cawthorn, some of
which would have been dug in just a few hours, have survived nearly
2000 years.

“This revised guide will bring the place to life and help people to
walk in the footsteps of a Roman soldier learning about what they ate,
what kit they had to carry and the clever defences they used against
their enemies such as the intriguingly-named ankle breakers.”

The guide called Cawthorn Roman Camps Trail is priced £1.95 and on
sale from national park centres, the Pickering Tourist Information
Centre and the New Inn, in Cropton.

It can also be ordered on-line at

See also;id=499

Did Boudica destroy Silchester?

The British revolt against Roman rule led by Boadicea (Boudicca) may have had
a wider impact than previously thought. New evidence from the Roman town at
Silchester, near Basingstoke, shows that there was a significant episode of
destruction between AD50 and AD75, followed by a realignment of the urban

There is evidence of burning over the entire area of the current excavations
close to the centre of Silchester, according to Professor Michael Fulford,
of the University of Reading. “The most striking evidence of this
dislocation in the settlement’s life is the destruction of buildings and the
abandonment and backfilling of wells,” he said. The destruction at
Silchester (Calleva Atrebatum in Roman times, the capital of the Atrebates
tribe) was substantial: the fact that the city was rebuilt on a grid
orientated by 45 degrees from the earlier town “simply reinforces the scale
and extent, over more than a hundred acres, of that destruction”, Professor
Fulford said. “It inevitably leads us to an association with the Boudiccan
rebellion of AD60-61. The problem with this is that Classical sources only
mention between them the destruction of three towns — London, Colchester,
and Verulamium (St Albans).”

Boadicea, widow of the Iceni ruler Prasutagus in East Anglia, was deposed by
the Romans in spite of her husband’s alliance with them.

Her rebellion targeted centres of Roman rule: both the trading centre of
Londinium and Southwark opposite, and the military base of Camulodunum under
modern Colchester have yielded dramatic evidence of burning.

“To bring Silchester into this equation significantly extends the area
affected by the revolt, further to the west as well as south of the Thames.
In the 1950s a small area of burning at this period was found at Winchester,
which lies even further south,” Professor Fulford said.

“Proposing significant destruction by the rebels south of the Thames would
radically alter our perception of the scale and impact of the revolt and its

One reason why Boadicea might have targeted Calleva Atrebatum is that it seems
to have been part of the kingdom, and perhaps the personal headquarters, of
the client king Togidubnus, who ruled a large area in southern England and
was noted by Tacitus for his unswerving loyalty to Rome after the conquest.
Boadicea would have regarded him as a quisling, in spite of her own
husband’s formerly friendly relations with the Romans.

Other possibilities include destruction by local elements opposed to
Togidubnus’s pro-Roman stance, or on the other hand a pre-emptive
strike by the Romans themselves. Tacitus writes of the later stages of the
revolt, without naming names, that “any tribe that had wavered in its
loyalty or had been hostile was ravaged with fire and sword”, Professor
Fulford noted.

Calleva was utterly changed by these events: the earlier settlement, with Iron
Age origins, was orientated northeast-southwest: Professor Fulford points
out that this aligns with midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset, the same
orientation important to the builders of Stonehenge more than two millennia
earlier. This prehistoric alignment, for dwellings and not just ceremonial
sites, may have survived several decades into Roman rule.

The prosperity of this hybrid community, in which circular Iron Age timber
houses sat alongside rectangular Roman ones , is shown by a discovery this
summer. One of the wells was lined with a barrel made from silver fir, a
species found in the Alps and Pyrenees but not in Britain. The barrel
probably came to Calleva filled with more than 900 litres of French or
Rhenish wine.

The destruction that followed, whether by Boadicea, other disaffected Britons,
or the Romans, came to a town which seems to have been a model of adaptation
to a new regime and a wider world.

Can you read this?

Can you help make sense of this?

Manchester C.A. schools events 2009



Here are the dates of our two schools’ events for next year:

Wednesday 11 February 2009: AS and A2 Latin Texts Half-Day at the University of Manchester, from 2.00 p.m.

Wednesday 11 March 2009: Annual Latin and Greek Reading Competition at Stockport Grammar School, starting at 1.30 p.m.

If you would like to be kept informed of either or both of these events, please let me know and confirm that I have the correct email address for you and your department.

Tom Holland in The Observer on recent Classics books

How the empire struck back
As the recent surge of books about classical civilisation suggests, we seem at last to be rediscovering the thrill of the ancient world

* Tom Holland
* The Observer,
* Sunday September 28 2008

Interviews with classics professors in newspapers went out of fashion roughly around the same time as liberty bodices and national service. Yet mirabile dictu, what should have been featured some weeks ago in the Review section of The Observer if not an interview with a classics professor? To be sure, Mary Beard has always made for good copy. In her ability to make a complex subject accessible to non-specialists, not to mention her occasional aptitude for controversy, she is the closest that her discipline has to a Richard Dawkins. Even so, she is only primus inter pares

This autumn, a whole legion of books by heavyweight classicists will be advancing on bookshops. In addition to Beard’s study of Pompeii, enthusiasts for ancient history can enjoy biographies of Philip II of Macedonia, Julius Caesar and Attila. Most unexpected of all is a dense yet wholly gripping analysis by Robin Lane Fox of the Greek dark ages, a period that even specialists have always regarded as intimidatingly obscure. Something rather startling is evidently going on: publishers seem to believe that classical scholarship may actually sell.

For the practitioners of a discipline that has long been beleaguered by charges of irrelevance and snobbery, this is a heady thought. Even in the Fifties, when a knowledge of Latin and Greek was still held to be the defining mark of the nation’s educational elite, the perceived pointlessness of studying dead languages was proving toxic. In How to be Topp, one of Geoffrey Willans and Ronald Searle’s tetralogy of satires about life in a Fifties prep school, the gloriously disaffected Molesworth advised that a Latin lesson could always be brought to a grinding halt by the simple expedient of asking: ‘What is the use of Latin, sir?’ He went on to describe the result. ‘Master clutches the board ruber but he knos he is beaten this one always rouses the mob.’

Molesworth was right. Over the past few decades, classicists have suffered a rout on the scale of the Roman defeat at Cannae. A discipline that once enjoyed an Olympian status in the curriculum has been struggling for survival. In the state system, where the carnage has been particularly severe, a bare 15 per cent of secondary schools offer Latin. No surprise, then, that it has ended up more thoroughly the preserve of the privately educated than it was even in Molesworth’s time. Hardly the perfect background, you might think, for a sudden explosion of interest in the ancient world.

And yet that is exactly what it has provided. The virtual eradication of classical subjects from the state system has left whole swaths of the population educationally disenfranchised: cut off from a knowledge of civilisations that remain no less the bedrock of our own, no less peopled with remarkable figures and famous names, no less fascinating, terrifying and strange than they had ever been. People are not stupid – they know when they are missing out on something interesting and important. If the education system fails to give it to them, then it can hardly be held surprising that they will look for it elsewhere, in works of popular history, perhaps, and in other media as well.

It is surely no coincidence that Gladiator, the film that effectively served to fuel the recent obsession with the ancient world, should have been released in 2000, a generation after the final collapse of classical studies in most schools. Maximus’s heroics gave people a taste of what had been lost. Nor did it take long for Gladiator to reveal a quality not normally associated with sword-and-sandal fests: prescience. Watch it again now and it seems to display something of the quality of the best science fiction, a portrait of a world that is as weirdly familiar as it is strange, as much about the future as the past. Citizens fed on dazzling entertainments; armies striking at an elusive foreign foe; the hi-tech delivery of weapons of fire. Here, as with Blade Runner, was a mirror being held up to the future.

One year on from Gladiator’s release and the American response to 9/11 ensured that the comparison of the classical superpower to the modern was transformed into a cliche. The image of George Bush wearing an imperial laurel wreath became a staple of caricatures everywhere. The rise and fall of the Roman empire began to seem not just ancient history, but a theme of pressing immediacy. Even now, with American hegemony looking more frayed than it did at the time of the Iraq War, the world of the classical past continues to cast an eerie shadow. As the critical response to the current exhibition on Hadrian at the British Museum has served to suggest, we find it hard now to look at a Roman and not identify in him something of ourselves.

There is nothing new about this. In the Renaissance, when classics as an educational discipline had its birth, Machiavelli had no doubts as to the abiding relevance of the lessons of the Greek and Roman past. ‘Prudent men are wont to say,’ he wrote, ‘and this not rashly or without good ground, that he who would foresee what has to be should reflect on what has been, for everything that happens in the world at any time has a genuine resemblance to what happened in ancient times.’ Such a claim, prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, might have appeared outlandish, but now, with the Cold War ended and long-suppressed identities and hatreds emerging from the melting permafrost, it appears a good deal less so.

Whether in the Balkans or Georgia, not to mention in the former Roman province of Judaea, the origins of modern conflicts often have very ancient roots indeed. Even in Britain, where the increasingly diverse nature of our society has prompted endless tortured musings on the nature of ‘British values’, the political and moral ambiguities of classical history suddenly seem possessed of a wholly new relevance. Issues of citizenship, after all – for good and bad – lay at the very heart of the Greek and Roman experience. As in the Renaissance, so now: classical scholarship is coming to seem bizarrely cutting edge.

All of which serves to raise a tantalising possibility: that the very devastation to which the discipline has been subjected might end up providing the necessary context for its revival. Perhaps, like any outmoded brand, classics needed to go through a decontamination process. Certainly, it seems now to have purged itself of many of its more rebarbative associations: the fust of chalkdust, the hint of canes and cold showers.

Molesworth, describing the desperate flannelling of a classics teacher put on the spot, imagined him protesting: ‘Er latin gives you not only the history of Rome but er [hapy inspiration] its culture, it er tells you about interesting men like J Caesar, hannibal, livy, Romulus remus and er lars porsena of clusium.’ To Molesworth’s classmates, such names would have been a reminder of ink-spattered textbooks and lectures on the vital importance of a stiff upper lip; children today are likeliest to have heard of them from computer games or glossy TV dramas.

And if that does inspire some students to contemplate the study of a dead language at school, then at least they will no longer find the educational establishment standing in their way. As Will Griffiths, the director of the Cambridge School Classics Project, puts it: ‘When we talk to schools about the possibility of offering Latin, we encounter interest and excitement, not hostility.’

Perhaps, then, just perhaps, the rash of books on classical subjects currently appearing in the review pages is indeed the reflection of a broader trend. Certainly, the discipline does appear to have stopped flat-lining. In 2000, there were a mere 150 non-selective state schools in England offering Latin; now there are more than 500.

All of which may be so much whistling in the wind. Enthusiasts for classics, like supporters of the England football team, are forever hailing new dawns and invariably end up disappointed. Nevertheless, like a phalanx of scarred and combat-hardened hoplites, classicists remain, at the very least, on the field of battle. Later this year, for instance, an £8m appeal, ‘Classics for All’, will be launched, with the stated ambition of making classics ‘available and sustainable in all state schools’. What prospect there is of raising such a sum in the teeth of a recession remains to be seen, but the organisers of the appeal are no more likely to be daunted by that reflection than the Athenians were by the sight of the enemy on the plain of Marathon. ‘Ignis aurum probat’: ‘It is fire that truly puts gold to the test’.
Five to read: new classical titles

Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town by Mary Beard (Profile)
Whirlwind tour of the lost town, punctuated with cheerful myth-busting by the provocative Beard.

Travelling Heroes by Robin Lane Fox (Allen Lane)
Engaging guide to the lives of the Greeks in 800BC, the age of Homer.

Philip II of Macedonia by Ian Worthington (Yale)
Biography of formidable military commander, better known as Alexander the Great’s father.

Attila the Hun by Christopher Kelly (Bodley Head)
Keenly argued account of the rapacious warlord’s assault on the Roman Empire.

Julius Caesar by Philip Freeman (JR Books)
Caesar’s life was lived on epic scale, as this detailed biography reveals.

Boudica falls on the field of battle – Key Stage 2

Hertfordshire Mercury

By Amy Roberts

ANCIENT battle cries filled the air in Buntingford as children at Millfield First and Middle School in Buntingford took part in a mock Celt and Roman tussle.

Pupils in Key Stage 2 from the Monks Walk School dressed as the two groups of warriors with shields which they had made alongside their parents at home.

Headteacher Kathy Willet said: “The children are currently working on an invaders and settlers topic and we held this mock battle as a practical way for them to really have fun in their learning.

“They learnt about how the different groups fought. The Romans made the tortoise formation while they were marching and the Celts were led by Boudicca who acted a mock death on the field!”

Vowels with macrons

Mention of macrons in vocab lists sent me to Open Office to find how easy they are to insert. They are easy enough, but a little time-consuming.

ā Ē ē Ī ī Ō ō Ū ū

Using Open Office : Insert : special character : Latin extended A

There is an add-on for Open Office that makes it quicker, but I haven’t tried it. It’s at

AS Latin vocabulary list

After some teachers have had correspondence with OCR, the news is that they are hoping to have the AS vocab. list file in Microsoft Excel format by October half-term.

I am a little disappointed that they are going to use a proprietary format, but the good news is that the free and open source Open Office is perfectly able to open Excel documents.

Whether OCR manage to include macrons, as some teachers have asked, remains to be seen.

Mary Beard’s encomium to Kennedy’s Latin Primer

I, too, was brought up on Kennedy – the buff-coloured Shorter Latin Primer first, and then the green one. The result is that to me, now, the way the conjugations are laid out in Kennedy, in logically arranged boxes, is the one way that makes perfect sense. The best-intentioned modern grammars, if they lack boxes to display each tense of the indicative or subjunctive, are second-best. (The fact, mentioned by Mary Beard, that this layout was the brainchild of the Kennedy daughters, makes me eternally grateful to them.)

I also appreciated the fact that the whole range of verb parts was presented to me at once, so that I could see my progress towards mastering the lot. I see the reasoning behind the modern courses that give you only what you need for Book 1, but Kennedy’s visual brilliance in my view overrides this. You can also see at a glance the patterns that underlie the various forms of the moods and tenses.

The only page that misled me was the Deponent Verb page. By giving the one example, utor, Kennedy made me believe that all deponents were of the third conjugation.

But enough of my thoughts. You want to read Mary Beard:

The Independent

It has lived in my desk, thumbed, defaced, treasured and from time to time mistreated, for more than 40 years, since I was 12. Benjamin Hall Kennedy’s Revised Latin Primer is the Rolls-Royce of text-books and surely the longest lived: 120 years after its publication it is still the best-selling book in the Classics section of my local university bookshop. At school, in our second year of learning Latin, we were each given our own copies – and told that when we knew what was included within, we would then “know Latin”.

Kennedy’s Primer has not had a good press among the young. It consists mostly of hundreds of tables of verbs and nouns, declensions and conjugations, rules and their exceptions. As such, it has come to stand for everything that is deadening about learning ancient languages: the “grammar grind” – “amo, amas, amat” – and so on, and on. In desperation (and with a degree of wishful thinking), generations of children took up their fountain pens and changed the title of the abridged, junior version of Kennedy’s Revised Primer. It took only a few extra letters and lines to turn the Shorter Latin Primer into the Shortbread Eating Primer. If only, they thought.

But for me, the Primer was a wondrous possession. I was entranced by the idea that someone could control a language, that you could reduce a complicated and difficult tongue to tables and rules, that it was possible to “know Latin” in this way. I’ve read enough about linguistics since to be rather more suspicious about how accurate those rules can ever be. But the Primer remains my first point of access to Latin and its mysterious complexities.

I also felt a soft spot for Kennedy himself. Before becoming Professor of Greek in Cambridge, he had been headmaster and legendary Classics teacher at Shrewsbury School. Being at school in Shrewsbury myself, down the road from where he had ruled the roost, I got the chance to visit his old classroom and even sit in his venerable desk. At Cambridge, I discovered that Kennedy had been a staunch advocate of women’s education.

But there was to be a funny twist in the tale. A few years ago, some enterprising work in the archives by Christopher Stray unearthed the true story of the Primer. Kennedy had had less to do with it that we had all imagined. He had been responsible for a dreadful and unsuccessful first version, the Public School Latin Primer. The Revised, as its title hints, was his second go. Why did it do so much better?

Cherchez les femmes. The answer is that old Professor Kennedy took a back seat while the organisation, layout and details were taken over by his daughters, Marion and Julia. It was their enterprise and talents that managed to arrange the rules of Latin in a comprehensible way. For me, that made the book even easier to love.

The Oxford Greek Play

From the University of Oxford Classics Outreach Officer:

Wednesday 15 – Saturday 18 October
The University of Oxford Classical Drama Society presents
The Oxford Greek Play
By Aeschylus

A story of sacrifice, treachery and adultery, Aeschylus’ play is as
powerful and as relevant today as it was at its premiere in 458 BC.

The play will be performed in Greek with English surtitles and the
performance features specially-commissioned masks echoing the
traditions of Greek Tragedy. Join us for an inspiring and very exciting

This is a triennial event, held at the Oxford Playhouse.
Tickets for schools (including for teachers) are priced at £8.50 each.

Education events for schools and other groups accompany this production,
please see the ‘What’s On’ page of the Oxford Classics Outreach website
for details:

Also available is an education pack featuring articles and summaries which
can be used to help guide students through the most important aspects of
 Aeschylus’ Agamemnon and the genre of Greek Tragedy in general.
Visit the Oxford Greek Play website to download the education pack
and find out more about the cast and crew involved in this production:

Tickets for the Oxford Greek Play and the educational events which
accompany the production can either be bought via the Schools Liaison
Officer Henry Cullen (please email
or via the Oxford Playhouse ( 01865 305305)


It’s a particularly exciting week for Greek Tragedy enthusiasts!
Explore the world of Sophocles with this groundbreaking opera of
The Antigone:

Sunday 19 October at 7.30pm
A new opera after Sophocles’ Antigone
Words by Seamus Heaney, music by Dominique Le Gendre

This world premiere production brings together some of the world’s
most revered musicians, theatre makers and poets, spanning
generations and continents.

Tickets: £15, 25, 30
To book please visit the Oxford Playhouse website:
Or telephone the Playhouse Box Office: 01865 305305