Report from the northern frontier of Rome:
Archaeologists are likening the discovery to winning the lottery. A Roman cavalry barracks has been unearthed near Hadrian’s Wall, complete with extraordinary military and personal possessions left behind by soldiers and their families almost 2,000 years ago. A treasure trove of thousands of artefacts dating from the early second century has been excavated over the past fortnight. The find is significant not just because of its size and pristine state, but also for its contribution to the history of Hadrian’s Wall, showing the military build-up that led to its construction in AD122.
“The native Britons took an opportunity, when the emperor Trajan died in AD117, to rebel,” says Andrew Birley, who heads the archaeological team. “The soldiers stationed in the north before the wall was built became involved in fighting and were very vulnerable. The evidence we have from this [find] shows the incredibly rich and diverse lifestyle these people had.”
Archaeologists stumbled on the site by chance and have been taken aback by finds in a remarkable state of preservation. These include two extremely rare cavalry swords – one of them complete, still with its wooden scabbard, hilt and pommel – and two wooden toy swords. One has a gemstone in its pommel. As well as other weapons, including cavalry lances, arrowheads and ballista bolts – all left behind on the floors – there are combs, bath clogs, shoes, stylus pens, hairpins and brooches. Sections of beautifully woven cloth have also been unearthed. They may have come from garments and have yet to be tested.
Romans vs. Picts — another act in the endless frontier saga. Roman frontier tales are a mini-genre from the early 20-teens. Liked Centurion pretty well. Didn’t see The Eagle, but I may fire it up this winter when the fog rolls in and the nights are chill and full of the brooding menace of the North…