London Roman Baths

I’d never heard of this, but it might be something to look at when you are in London.

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NEW Roman Gallery at Lancaster City Museum

Media Newswire

A NEW Roman Gallery and exhibition will be unveiled to the public on Saturday 4 April at Lancaster City Museum. The Roman Gallery has been developed and revitalised, thanks to a £5000 grant from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) to support the museum’s star attraction th an iconic Roman cavalry tombstone.

(Media-Newswire.com) – A NEW Roman Gallery and exhibition will be unveiled to the public on Saturday 4 April at Lancaster City Museum.

The Roman Gallery has been developed and revitalised, thanks to a £5000 grant from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council ( MLA ) to support the museum’s star attraction – an iconic Roman cavalry tombstone.

The tombstone, dating back to 100AD, was discovered in Lancaster in November 2005 during an excavation in Aldcliffe Road by the Greater Manchester Archaeology Unit.

Specialist staff at Lancashire County Council’s conservation studio in Preston worked to fully restore the tombstone so that it could take pride of place on permanent display at Lancaster City Museum last year.

The new gallery will feature information and artefacts depicting Roman life in Lancaster such as jewellery, clothing and domestic utensils, a dressing up corner for children where they can try on traditional Roman costume, and a range of fun family friendly activities to get involved in.

To mark the unveiling a traditional Roman funeral procession will take place in Lancaster City Centre.

Staff from the museum, along with professional interpreters from Roman Tours Ltd, will re-enact a funeral procession, carrying a stretcher through the streets in full Roman costume and dressed as Roman Soldiers.

The march will start at Lancaster Castle, past the Judge’s Lodgings, down Church Street, onto Cheapside and finish at Lancaster City Museum.

The public can watch the procession taking place, also on Saturday 4 April, from 11.30am to 1.00pm.

Following the procession, people are invited to look around the new gallery and take part in a free family drop in session to create your own Roman Sculptures, from 1.30 to 3.30pm.

Lancaster City Museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm and entry is free to all visitors.

For further information please contact the museum on 01524 64637 or visit http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/museums

For further media enquiries only contact:
Andrew Lynn, Communication manager, 01772 534372 or email andrew.lynn@ssd.lancscc.gov.uk

Facelift for ancient Roman road

One bit of all-good news. From the BBC

An ancient footpath and bridleway, which is thought to have been a Roman road 2,000 years ago, has reopened following a major facelift.

Brecon Beacons National Park worked with local residents to solve drainage problems and to improve access for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

They worked on the project at Y Gaer bridleway in Brecon for four months.

Lyn Williams, chair of Yscir Community Council, said people were “delighted” the bridleway had reopened.

Lucienne Bennett of the British Horse Society (BHS) was one of the first to try the new route with Velvet the pony.

“I am delighted the community and the national park authority have come together to get this beautiful bridleway reopened.

“As the county access and bridleway officer for the BHS, we try as much as possible to get the horses and their riders as much off the road as possible due to the increase in traffic.

“The good news for us is that the reopening of this bridleway has made it possible to ride a four day circular route taking in the stunning scenery of the national park and mid Wales.”

The Welsh Assembly Government and the Countryside Council for Wales helped fund the improvement works.

On Trier and the Moselle

Stars and Stripes

I copy this because it’s a part of the Roman world I really love, and if other people are helped to enjoy it, I shall be very glad. It’s what David Meadows calls ‘a touristy thing’. Go to the original page for several nice pictures.

Want a taste of ancient Rome? Make tracks for Germany’s Trier

In 1993, an amateur archaeologist unearthed more than 2,500 Roman gold coins — worth an estimated $3.25 million — from the rubble of a parking garage construction site in Trier, Germany.

A shovel, though, isn’t needed to find the many treasures in Trier, a city on the Moselle River that was once part of the vast Roman Empire. You just have to know where to look.

One of the best places to start is the Rheinisches Landesmuseum, which displays the coins. The museum, founded in 1877, houses many Roman antiquities built when the city was called Augusta Treverorum. The Latin name tongue-tied its later conquerors, and so it was shortened to Treves and finally to Trier.

The museum has a detailed model of the city as it looked under the Romans to help orient visitors and get them started on discovering the city.

The Romans ruled Trier from 30 B.C. to A.D. 489. The city’s Celtic people eagerly fashioned themselves after the Romans, wearing togas and sculpting monuments studded with figures from Roman mythology. A copy of one of these grave-site monoliths stands in the courtyard of the museum, its panels depicting the operations of a shipping company.

“It was advertising for the business,” said Frank Unruh, the museum’s resident archaeologist and historian. “They were very pragmatic.”

One of the museum’s more famous pieces is a sandstone sculpture of a Roman boat loaded with wine casks; it is called the “Wine Ship of Neumagen,” named for a town on the river, and is believed to have marked the tomb of a Roman wine dealer from around 220. The Romans brought grapevines to the banks of the Moselle and some of today’s vineyards can be traced to that time.

The museum is not the only place to see remnants of the Romans. Their sturdy buildings were meant to last, and some are still easily viewed on the streets of Trier. One such building is the fourth-century Basilica of Constantine. At 221 feet long with a ceiling that juts 100 feet into the air, it stands as the largest surviving single-room structure from Roman times.

Worshipers now pray within its cavernous hall, but the emperor originally used it as a throne room, astounding guests with its lavishly painted walls and sheer size. Besides the basilica, an amphitheater lies on the outskirts of the city, and a Roman bridge still carries traffic across the river.

The most famous Roman site, though, is the Porta Nigra, which is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It was given its name, which means “Black Gate,” in the Middle Ages because of the gray sandstone used to construct it. Now, its façade is stained black from the exhaust of passing vehicles, and the name seems even more apt.

The Porta Nigra was among four gates that granted entrance to the ancient city. Now, it opens up on a street lined with cafes — delectable treats in their windows — and other shops. This shopping district runs for about two blocks, ending at the house where Karl Marx was born. The house has been converted into a museum, filled with information about his life and works.

But the author of “Das Kapital,” a critique of capitalism, might not like the gift shop. Inside, his face hawks everything from plates to T-shirts — even wine with his mug can be bought for about 7.20 euros.

Centurion at the Colosseum – a cautionary tale

A warning for anyone taking a school party to visit the Colosseum, from the Glasgow Herald

A funny thing happened on the way to the Colosseum. My 11-year-old son and I are on a guys’ long weekend in Rome. It’s just the two of us, getting away from all the make-up, girly soap operas, reality TV and raspberry-scented bath aroma at home.

As an antidote, we settle on grisly history and ice-cream. So we book one of those Ryanair penny flights – excluding airport tax – and here we are, happily taking in the sights on the Via Cavour in the Eternal City when we are set upon by a centurion with a plastic helmet and a glint in his eye.

Perhaps the centurion notices me watching him as he leans on a railing amid the splendour of the Via dei Fori Imperiali, smoking an early-morning cigarette and talking to Caesar in a bedsheet toga. Now he throws down his cigarette, picks up a wooden sword and pounces upon us.

“Yo,” he exclaims like a New York mugger, except this guy is wearing a pleated red mini-skirt and cape. Suddenly, the centurion is in our faces. He slips his toilet-brush helmet on to my son’s head and presses the sword to his throat.
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“Photo, photo,” he cries.

My son looks distinctly uneasy. I pull out my camera and snap two pictures, and he lets the boy go.

In one continuous motion, the centurion slips the toilet-brush off my son’s head and plonks it on mine. Impressive, but I’m not in the mood. We want to get to the Colosseum, and I feel stupid standing in the heart of Imperial Rome wearing a toilet brush.

If we weren’t being mugged, I might mention to my son that the Via dei Fori Imperiali was built on the orders of the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini in the 1930s to link the Colosseum and the Forum with Piazza Venezia.

“No, grazie,” I tell the centurion, removing the helmet.

“Fine,” he says, holding out his hand. “Per favore, 45.” By my reckoning, that’s an exorbitant £35. The glint in the centurion’s eye now turns to menace. I offer him 5 and he hurls an unpublishable stream of vitriol at me. There’s nothing to do but run.

My son and I head swiftly toward the Colosseum. When I turn, I see the centurion waving his sword in anger. “I knew this would be a big adventure,” my son says.

I knew Rome was the perfect getaway for a father and son. It’s hard to go wrong with gladiators, lions, imperial legions, pizza and ice-cream. Some 300 yards later, the Colosseum rises before us with a singular heft. The place throngs with tourists and more centurions with toilet-brush helmets offering guided tours.

“Don’t worry. We’ll get a real guide,” I say. And, to distract him, I add: “They’ve had 2000 years to fix this place up, and look at it.”

Roman baths at Bath add science to school trips

It’s long been a place where youngsters find out more about a crucial period of history.

But now the Roman Baths have been transformed into an interactive science classroom.

Youngsters from across the area will be putting their scientific knowledge into practice by measuring data at the attraction.

Staff at the baths have created a project which allows pupils to gather information around the site to learn more about conservation.

Roman Baths’ manager Stephen Clews said: “The environment at the Roman Baths yields some fascinating and unusual data because the hot spring rises in the middle of the site and hot steaming water runs through it.

“Students visiting the Roman Baths can see how something that is taught as part of a science lesson at school has relevance in a local museum and helps to conserve the ancient remains that lie at the heart of the World Heritage Site.”

Pupils will be able to gather information around the site about temperature, sound and light and then analyse their results once they are back at school.

Year 8 pupils have already visited the council-run baths to collect data as part of the project, which is funded by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council South West.

As part of its conservation programme, staff from Bath and North East Somerset Council monitor the environment at the attraction 24 hours a day to protect the site against decay.

For more information visit http://www.romanbaths.co.uk or contact the Learning and Programmes department at the Roman Baths on 01225 477757.

More on the Carlisle museum development

I think this report is a bit fuller that the one previously blogged. I was particularly interested in excitement over Roman shoes.

The Cumberland News

The ancient Romans who began to colonise Britain in AD 43 made their most notable mark on Cumbria 79 years later with the building of Hadrian’s Wall, begun in AD 122.
But the 73-mile long wall sealing off the Roman world from the northern barbarians is only one part of their legacy to us.
Now, in both Carlisle and Maryport, plans are being drawn up to exploit this legacy as fully as possible. Tourism has become the lifeblood of Cumbria’s economy, and it is hoped the Romans can help boost it further – 2,000 years after they first came here themselves.
Cumbria Tourism certainly believes they can. Its spokesperson said: “Cumbria’s Roman heritage sites provide huge appeal for visitors.
“Around 72 per cent of our cultural visitors state they are interested in history and 91 per cent are specifically interested in visiting historical and heritage attractions.”
At Tullie House in Carlisle, a “Roman gateway” is to be developed, telling the story of the Romans in this area. It will use interactive technology to create a “virtual walk” through Roman Carlisle, and will also have space for many of the Roman artefacts unearthed in the city by archaeologists.
Tullie House actually stands on the site of an ancient Roman fort, while there was another fort in what is now the Stanwix area, and Tullie House’s museum and arts manager Hilary Wade said that with the growing interest in Roman history, Carlisle’s strong Roman connections were well worth promoting.
“They have been a bit undersold in a way, but we have a lot we could be shouting about,” she said. “We are fortunate in that we’ve got a really good collection of Roman materials.”
Some of the new interest in the Romans began in February, when the huge bronze head of the Emperor Hadrian came to Tullie House from the exhibition at the British Museum. Its popularity, she said, proved there was a healthy appetite for Roman history.
“It really attracted a lot of interest,” she said. “Roman exhibitions are very well supported, not only locally but regionally and with visitors from overseas.
“We really have to try to promote Carlisle as a ‘must-see’ destination for visitors.”
During 2000, archaeological digs under Tullie House unearthed many everyday Roman objects which have not been put on display so far, and Mrs Wade said the new development would allow them to be exhibited for the first time.
“We’ve got a leather shoe, a leather tent, pieces of Roman armour and part of a leather saddle, for instance,” she said.
“It is amazing to look at that shoe and know that it once had a Roman foot in it.”
It is these everyday items from two millennia ago that make the Romans so interesting to us, she believes.
“Roman history is very tangible. You can find out about their clothes, their uniforms, the food they ate, the letters they wrote, their daily lives.
“These are our ancestors. They walked about the streets of Carlisle shopping, 2,000 years ago.”
The Roman Gateway will cost around £570,000 and is being financed by the North-West Regional Development Agency. It will be open by 2011 and Mrs Wade hopes it will more than double the number of visitors from outside the region coming to Tullie House every year – from nine per cent of the total to 20 per cent.
She also predicted that these extra visitors would boost not just Tullie House but Carlisle’s cathedral and castle as well. “It will feed into the whole cultural quarter of the city,” she said.

The west of the county is not to be outdone. At Camp Farm on the outskirts of Maryport, Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Ltd plans to build an £11.5 million museum and visitors’ centre, also due to open in 2011.
The site is empty now but for a few quietly grazing sheep – but it was once the site of a bustling Roman settlement.
The developers hope that, in three years’ time, the site could be bustling again – this time with up to 50,000 visitors.
As the organisation’s heritage and access director Dr Nigel Mills points out: “The wall is just one part of the story.
“What we want to do is broaden the picture out, and look at the whole history of the frontier over 400 years.”
The Romans called the Camp Farm site Alauna. It comprised a military base and a vicus, the Latin name for a village that grew up around it. Archaeologists believe it could turn out to be one of the most important sites in the north of England.
Yet it is also one of the least well excavated so far, and they hope it could reveal a lot of new information about how life was lived here 2,000 years ago.
Dr Mills said: “There could be all kinds of things there. Roman Maryport is brilliantly preserved.
“We can see the street pattern and the different sorts of buildings. The archaeology may be able to give us an indication of how many people lived in the vicus.”
The visitors’ centre will be divided into three sections. The first would outline the overall story of the Roman Empire, to place the site in context. The next would explain the importance of the frontier of the empire, including the wall and the coastal defences against barbarians.
The third would exhibit some of the archaeological remains already discovered near Maryport, such as the 22 altars to the Roman god Jupiter currently on show at the town’s Senhouse Museum, and any new finds unearthed while the site is being excavated.
Quite apart from the educational benefits, Hadrian’s Wall Heritage feel it is bound to benefit Maryport’s economy.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity to develop Maryport as an example of heritage-based regeneration,” said Martin Walker, its sustainable development director. “An influx of 50,000 visitors will be a great boost to the economy of Maryport.
“It’s fundamental to our vision that the benefits will be felt by the whole community.”
The defenders of immigration often argue that incomers bring economic and cultural benefits to the place they move to.
As we enter a recession, it may be that the immigrants of 2,000 years ago could bring economic and cultural benefits to us to see us through an uncertain future.

Tullie House museum in Carlisle to be “Roman Gateway”

My two clearest memories from Tullie House are of wax tablets you could try writing on, and a replica of a stone ‘genius loci’ which they sold there and which decorated my classroom for years – just so that I could tell pupils “There’s a genius in this classroom.”

From the News and Star

£500,000 Roman plan for Carlisle museum

By Julian Whittle

Last updated 11:52, Monday, 15 December 2008

THE Millennium Gallery at Carlisle’s Tullie House Museum is to be reinvented as a “Roman Gateway”.

Officials are promising a “spectacular gallery” and exhibition telling the story of Roman Carlisle.

The £570,000 scheme aims to attract visitors from abroad and establish Carlisle as the base to explore the western end of Hadrian’s Wall.

If Carlisle City Council’s ruling executive approves the plans on Thursday, the new gallery should open in 2011.

A report to councillors says: “The must-see gallery will make full use of the best interpretive techniques and interactive technology to recreate virtual walk-through constructions of life in Roman Carlisle and along the wall, engaging visitors and creating an immersive experience.”

The plan is to incorporate the city council’s large collection of Roman artefacts.

Some are already on show at Tullie House but others are stored at Shaddon Mill because there is no room to display them.

The exhibition will cover the full 400 years of the Roman occupation of Britain.

Themes include the multi-cultural nature of the Roman forces and the nature of everyday life for the Romans and native Britons.

It will be designed to appeal to children, adults, even expert historians and overseas visitors with little or no English.

The Northwest Regional Development Agency is providing the money for the revamp as part of its “raising the game” programme to improve museums.

The changes are in line with thinking outlined by the Carlisle Renaissance board and its chairman Bryan Gray, who also chairs the regional development agency.

Mr Gray believes Carlisle can do more to exploit its historic and cultural assets such as Tullie House, the castle and cathedral.

The Millennium Gallery was built under Castle Way as part of the controversial Millennium Gateway scheme.

It provides a link between Tullie House and the castle but the original plans, which would have flooded it with natural light from glass pyramids outside Tullie House, were dropped in response to vocal public opposition.

The gallery currently houses a collection of mineral specimens, archaeological exhibits, and displays of fine and decorative art. The council says these will be re-housed elsewhere in Tullie House.

City council leader Mike Mitchelson said: “This is great news for Tullie House and the local visitor economy as a whole. It provides an exciting opportunity to develop the museum and put our Roman heritage on show for all to see.

“It is also a major step forward for the development of Carlisle’s historic quarter.”

JWhittle@cngroup.co.uk

Hall in Baths of Diocletian reopened.

Don’t think I’ve ever taken a party of students to the Baths of Diocletian. Anyway, if you are going there, there’s something else to see now. From USA Today (with photo)

ROME (AP) — A huge hall in the ancient baths of Diocletian reopens in Rome after 30 years.

The hall underwent structural restoration. It contains ancient tombs dating to the 2nd century A.D.

One of the tombs on display has a vault surface covered with circles and is decorated with geometric and flower motifs. The other features niches for the ashes of the deceased and graffiti with their names.

Archaeologists said that the hall is believed to have served as a recreational room. Its marbles and decorations have been lost over the centuries.

The bath complex was built between 298 and 306 A.D. Including libraries, gardens and areas dedicated to shows and games, it could accommodate up to 3,000 people.

More about the Roman garden at Caerleon

Oct 18 2008

by Alison Young, South Wales Echo

IT’S not unusual to spot a toga-clad man roaming around the grounds of a leading Welsh museum.

For
a garden fit for a Roman has been created at the National Roman Legion
Museum in Caerleon with staff in period costume adding that final touch
of authenticity.

The garden, which is a recreation of a Roman
garden, was researched and planted up by staff at the museum who are
hoping to create a green team of members of the public to help them
maintain it.

It’s basic symmetrical shape with box hedging,
vines and cypress trees is designed to reflect what a typical Roman
garden would have looked like.

It includes a facade of a Roman
villa and the all important Triclinium – a three sided dining area
where Romans would have both lounged and eaten their meals.

Museum
manager Bethan Lewis said: “We wanted to recreate a Roman garden in the
grounds but also wanted to make sure that there was still lots of room
for our younger visitors to run around and play.

“The garden
enhances our interpretation of Roman Caerleon and is a special addition
because it’s museum staff and volunteers who’ve actually researched and
created it.

“We are looking forward to welcoming new visitors wanting gardening tips from the Romans.”

It
was the Romans who were the first to use their gardens as extensions of
their homes and for decorative purposes by using colourful plants,
stone ornaments and decorative pots.

They also brought many plants and vegetables to Britain including, it is believed, the leek – our national emblem.

Andrew
Dixey, estate manager at the National Museum of Wales, explained: “The
Romans invaded Britain in 43 AD and brought their garden designs with
them. However due to the change in climate, the range in plants they
could grow was more restricted than overseas.

“Roman gardens
were ideal locations to relax and a perfect place for entertaining
guests but they also had practical uses and would be sources for
vegetables, fruit and herbs such as rosemary, thyme and mint, which
were used for culinary and medicinal purposes.

“The Romans’
triclinium is today’s gazebo and we continue to use techniques which
they established 2,000 years ago; turning soil in the autumn, mixing
compost, hoeing beds and sowing seeds in spring.”

Many of the
plants in the garden will be recognisable to visitors such as the fig
tree and olive trees but there are others such as the leek which may be
more surprising.

“We set out to show what plants they had, how they used them and how they might have gardened,” said Mr Dixey.

“This
is not a reconstruction of a garden that existed in Caerleon but it
does reflect the sort of plants and gardening that the Romans would
have been involved in at the time.

“It also shows how plants
would have had different uses and meaning over time. The Romans grew
lots of evergreen plants near their homes not just because they looked
nice all year round but because they had a spiritual significance for
them.”