Sex slaves, public executions – yet

glorious art like this: A majestic Roman eagle, newly unearthed in London, believed to be the best-preserved ever in London

and a gripping account of life in AD100

At a cemetery on the eastern fringes of Roman London in AD100, a sombre, yet grand ceremony was taking place.

A prosperous citizen was being buried just outside the city boundaries – no Roman, however rich, could be buried within the city walls to prevent the spread of disease.

Mourners muttered prayers to the sun god, Mithras, as the body was laid to rest in its dark mausoleum.

Overlooking the body, at the far end of the tomb, loomed a majestic stone sculpture of a Roman eagle clutching a writhing snake in its beak. This noble eagle would guarantee the protection of Jupiter, king of the gods, in the afterlife. ……

Read more from Harry Mount

Dealing with litter along the Antonine Wall.

Volunteers have been doing battle with litter along the Antonine Wall.

The Roman fortification, which ns 37 miles from Bo’ness to Old Kilpatrick, was chosen as the launch site for National Spring Clean 2009.

Schools, youth clubs, community groups and individuals will be involved in litter picks across the country over the next month.

So far, more than 35,000 people have signed up for the Spring Clean, organised by Keep Scotland Beautiful.

John Summers, chief executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “It is amazing to see today, what the Romans achieved by working together, and if we do the same, work together to combat littering, then maybe we can leave a legacy of a litter-free Scotland.


National Spring Clean 2009 is a great opportunity for groups of people to really make a difference to the environmental quality of Scotland.”

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead added: “Scotland’s natural environment is worth around £17bn to our economy and the cost to our local authorities for street cleansing alone is now over £100m per annum.

“Litter is a problem which cannot be ignored.

“We want as many people as possible to get involved in this year’s campaign. It offers people throughout Scotland the opportunity to restore a sense of community pride and clean up their neighbourhoods for themselves and visitors to our country.”

Meanwhile, a campaign to encourage people to reduce, reuse and recycle the packaging that comes with their everyday products has been launched.

The initial stages of the Positive Package drive will focus on Easter egg wrapping.

Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham launched the campaign at Oakbank Primary in Perth.

She said: “Packaging is a key area in relation to waste. Some packaging helps protect products and can make them last longer, which can reduce waste. Equally, though, excess packaging is wasteful.”

Dr Nicki Souter, from Waste Aware Scotland, said: “There are many things we can all do to limit the amount of waste that packaging generates, such as looking for products with less packaging or reusing things like carrier bags and refillable products.

“Over and above that, we can also all recycle more of our packaging, as this can then be used again to make new products.”

Medieval recycling – or robbing Roman walls

Medieval News

Archaeologists in Gloucester have unearthed evidence that recycling is not just a twenty-first century idea. An archaeological investigation in the centre of the city has discovered that medieval settlers used parts of a Roman wall to construct buildings.

Gloucestershire County Council’s archaeology team is exploring the area where Kimbrose Triangle meets Southgate Street before work begins in the summer to connect the Quays to the city centre. But they were frustrated in their search for the line of the old Roman wall.

Gloucestershire County Council project officer Paul Nichols said: “We found Roman deposits about one metre below the pavement level. The earliest deposits were soil layers containing shards of Roman pottery and fragments of wall plaster. Above that was a mortar floor surface, which we believe was the internal floor of a Roman building.

“We didn’t find any evidence for the Roman wall, suggesting that we were just inside the line, but it’s also possible that parts of it may have been recycled and used to build later buildings. It was certainly a worthwhile exercise and we will be providing a full report that will be of benefit to city planners.”

The nearest remains of the wall are inside Gloucestershire Furniture Exhibition Centre on the corner of Southgate Street and Parliament Street, and Blackfriars. Henry Hurst uncovered the wall at Bearland in 1969. It runs under Berkeley Street, to the nearest corner of the Cathedral, to St Aldate Street, through King’s Walk, Brunswick Road, and Parliament Street.

“They could have been just inside the city wall, if the wall is there,” said Gloucester Civic Trust’s Nigel Spry. “It may be that it’s been taken away during later periods to use in other buildings.”

Message from Alan Chadwick.

This message is from Alan Chadwick. (I am handing over this blog to a colleague, and am concentrating on a personal blog, in which I am hoping to record my thoughts, feelings and experiences while facing terminal cancer. This the URL:

Hi David,

Sorry, I’ve not been keeping as up-to-date with your blog as I ought, so I don’t know if you’ve seen this website below.

In fact, it’s just a graphic – a Virgilian pastiche on Facebook if you like. I think it is very good, if a bit “contemporary” for some of our more reserved colleagues, although even they would wish to join Turnus’ new group.

Here is the link.

Just down the road from me

My eyes lit up at the mention of Taunton, where they have found “one of the largest prehistoric roundhouses in Britain”. Taunton is where I go to my hospital cancer specialists. I hope they leave some trace, at the park-and-ride, of the actual round-house site. Some supermarkets are good at marking out the plan view of Roman buildings under their carparks.

We have, by the way, a rebuilt Iron Age settlement on the Levels even nearer to Street where I live. Here’s the link to a video I made.

Excavation of a proposed park-and-ride site in Taunton has revealed one of the largest prehistoric roundhouses in Britain and a number of Roman burials.

The house dates from the Iron Age (400-100 BC) and was constructed from wooden posts with a thatched roof and had a diameter of 17m (56ft).

The finds unearthed from the Cambria Farm site since December 2008 are to be displayed by the Museum of Somerset.

Construction of the new park-and-ride site is due to start in April.

Archaeologists also found three Iron Age spearheads, a pair of Roman shears loom weights, Roman brooches and large amounts of pottery.

Experts said there were originally four houses on the site that were next to fields where mixed agriculture of cereal crop and sheep farming were practised.

It appears that after the roundhouses went out of use, the site was used to bury the dead. A number of Roman graves have been excavated including some very unusual burials.

Deputy leader of Somerset county council Justin Robinson said: “This significant collection of finds is another piece in the jigsaw of Somerset’s rich history.

“I hope residents and visitors to the county will be able to share in this information when it goes on display in the Museum of Somerset.”

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.

( – 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

For further media enquiries only contact:
Andrew Lynn, Communication manager, 01772 534372 or email

When Romans ruled Wigan

Wigan Today

For some reason I can’t copy this article onto the blog, but the link is there.

Adrian Murdoch has a discussion about the matter on Bread and Circuses

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.

Malmesbury Roman coins – why were they buried?

Gazette and Herald

A hoard of Roman coins now on display in Malmesbury has perplexed staff at the Athelstan Museum.

The stash was discovered in a field in Milbourne two years ago and has now been cleaned up and given to the museum.

Chairman of the Friends of Athelstan Museum, Roger Griffin, is puzzled as to the purpose of the collection.

He said: “These coins aren’t the equivalent of £20 notes. They are quite small coins, like loose change really.

“They might have been the savings of a slave waiting for his release or possibly a child’s pocket money. They certainly were a poor person’s hoard.”

At first, 24 coins were found scattered over a small area and later a further 14 coins were found.

The coins, known as nummi, date from 305 to 325 AD but there are none in the seven years from 313 to 320.

Mr Griffin said: “We’re not sure why there is a gap, maybe the owner went away for seven years and then came back.

“If it was a child’s pocket money then they would have been saving for quite some time.

“It’s amazing to think that 1,700 years ago there was someone in Malmesbury hiding away these coins.”

The field of coins is half a mile from the site of a Roman villa found three years ago, suggesting the area was well populated during Roman times.

Mr Griffin said: “It wasn’t just Bath and Cirencester that was occupied by the Romans.

“This whole area was heavily occupied and there was a significant amount of activity in Malmesbury itself.

“There have been quite a few finds of Roman pottery, buckles and coins.”

He added: “In 2006 an Iron Age ditch was found in Abbey Row when gas pipes were being laid.

“There was quite a bit of pottery found.

“A Roman denarius was found by the walls of Malmesbury a few years ago.

“It makes you wonder what else is still in the ground waiting to be discovered.”

The coins will go on display at Athelstan Museum in Cross Hayes until next month.

Then they will return to the museum as part of The Festival of British Archaeology from July 18 to August 2. This will also include items from a 2006 dig at Rodbourne Bottom.

More about that film being made in Scotland, Centurion

Press and Journal

Highlanders dress part to play extras in movie Centurion
Actors Roman in the gloamin

By Nichola Rutherford and Johnny Muir

Published: 12/03/2009

When almost 200 armoured men marched through a Highland estate wielding spears and carrying shields, onlookers would have been forgiven for thinking: “The Romans are coming”.

But the dozens of local men spotted braving rain and snow on the Glenfeshie Estate this week had good reason for dressing as Roman soldiers – they were extras in the new movie, Centurion.

Men from across the Highlands and Moray volunteered to take part in the movie, ensuring they would spend their 13-hour day working alongside Bond girl Olga Kurylenko.

Filming in the Highlands began last month and the local extras played their part during a day’s filming on Tuesday.

It is understood their efforts will amount to little more than seven minutes of the film, which is set during the Roman invasion of Britain and tells the story of Quintus Dias, the sole survivor of a raid on a Roman fort.

Newcastle-born writer-director Neil Marshall is among a team now working on the film’s special effects, which include increasing the numbers of Roman soldiers to appear like many thousands.

Ukranian Kurylenko, who appeared in Quantum of Solace, plays Gorlacon, a Pictish Queen who leads the rout of the Roman legion. The film is expected to be released late this year or in early 2010.

Meanwhile, Inverness Castle, the hills above Loch Ness at Dores and swing bridges over the Caledonian Canal could all feature in a Bollywood movie due to be shot in the Highland capital next month.

Filming of the psychological thriller Purple Lake – based on Loch Ness – had been due to begin on Saturday but the start date has now been put back until the end of March.

Sue Bellarby, a UK-based locations manager for Indian film company ASA Productions and Enterprises, said Inverness and the Highlands would provide the movie’s backdrop during a month of filming.

She has scouted a multitude of locations which could feature in the movie, including Falcon Square, Inverness Castle, Midmills College, the city’s Red Cross building, the River Ness, the Town House and swing bridges over the Caledonian Canal.

The hills and moorland overlooking the east bank of Loch Ness could also be used to create an “eerie winter feel”. Woodland close to Inverness may also be used, while shooting could take place inside a city home.

Ms Bellarby said: “For the size of the city in relation to a lot of other places, Inverness has everything.

“It has everything you could possibly want – shops, a theatre, lots of facilities, but it is only 10 minutes away from some of the most stunning countryside on the planet.”

Ms Bellarby said the film could also give the Highland economy a lift, with the movie’s cast due to stay in the Kingsmill and Thistle hotels during filming.

It is also hoped that after the film’s release, which is due to be this year, visitors will want to come to Inverness and the Highlands to explore some of the sights featured in the movie.

The film’s start date has been put back because of difficulties in bringing Indian actors to Scotland.