Journey to Britannia: From the Heart of Rome to Hadrian's Wall, AD 130

Journey to Britannia: From the Heart of Rome to Hadrian's Wall, AD 130

Bronwen Riley

Language: English

Pages: 359


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

It is AD 130. Rome is the dazzling heart of a vast empire and Hadrian its most complex and compelling ruler. Faraway Britannia is one of the Romans' most troublesome provinces: here the sun is seldom seen and 'the atmosphere in the country is always gloomy'.

What awaits the traveller to Britannia? How will you get there? What do you need to pack? What language will you speak? How does London compare to Rome? Are there any tourist attractions? And what dangers lurk behind Hadrian's new Wall?

Combining an extensive range of Greek and Latin sources with a sound understanding of archaeology, Bronwen Riley describes an epic journey from Rome to Hadrian's Wall at Britannia's - and the empire's - northwestern frontier. In this strikingly original snapshot of Roman Britain, she brings vividly to life the smells, sounds, colours and textures of travel in the second century AD.

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Benna (goods vehicles, Gaul) 85 carpentum (covered 2-wheeled carriage) 86 carruca (heavy 4-wheeled coach) 86 carruca dormitoria (carruca for long night journeys) 86 cisium (swift 2-wheeled carriage) 86 petoritum (slow, open carriage) 86 plaustrum (2- or 4-wheeled cart) 85 reda (large 4-wheeled carriage) 86 streptitus rotarum (screeching of wheels) 86 venatores (gladiatorial hunters) 159 Veneti (tribe) 77 Venta Belgarum (Winchester) 128 Venta Silurum (Caerwent) 120, 150, 165–167, 230.

Full of colour and symbolism and are made from rectangular pieces of linen, reinforced at the edges with leather. With Hadrian away from Rome, emperor-watchers will look in vain for the imperial titles emblazoned in gold letters across a sail, or one of purple, the colour that has denoted an imperial ship since the time when, in Pliny the Elder’s phrase, ‘Cleopatra arrived with Mark Antony at Actium on a ship with such a sail, and fled with the same sail’.49 Altogether, there are so many ships.

Complained bitterly that they had reduced him to the rank of a commoner.9 The more judicious—or ambitious—attendee will try to be among the first to greet Julius Severus, perhaps travelling some distance to do so, although those already due to receive him elsewhere are officially exempt from having to greet him now.10 For his part, the new governor will need to cut a dash in his military uniform, with his five lictors (ceremonial bodyguards), assigned to him while in office, walking before him:.

Massacring those of its inhabitants too weak or too reluctant to flee her merciless war bands.23 Just recently, no earlier than AD 125, the city has been devastated once again—by fire. It began west of the River Walbrook and spread eastwards, fanned by a westerly wind and devouring at least 65 acres​—a much bigger area than was ravaged during Boudicca’s destruction. This most recent fire spread rapidly, possibly from near the quayside south of the forum, although the forum basilica itself.

Small bronze figure, possibly of the infant Hercules, some fragments of pottery and an iron screw. Among several ritual deposits in insula IX, there is a pottery vessel containing the complete skeleton of a rare small dog, two or three years old, carefully laid to rest as though it were still alive. It too dates from the late Iron Age. In one part of town (insula XXII) a concoction of mallow, hemlock and nettle seeds—a regular witch’s brew—may be found in one pot inside a well; a little further.

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