“A thousand roads lead men forever to Rome”; Alain de Lille, 1175

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Thursday 24 November 2022, Dr. Andrew Tibbs; The Rivers and Roads of Flavian Scotland

Thursday 8 December 2022, Bronwen Riley; Journey to Britannia

Thursday 5 January 2023, Rescheduled from 13/10/22 Dr. Chris Smart; Beyond Isca: new evidence for Roman expansion in South West Britain

Thursday 26 January 2023, Ed Peveler & Nigel Rothwell; Reinterpreting Roman Roads in the Chilterns - insights from LiDAR data

Thursday 23 February 2023, Prof. Will Bowden; Boudica, street grids and the changing face of Caistor Roman town

Thursday 23 March 2023, Dr. Andrew Birley; Subject and title TBC

Thursday 20 April 2023, Dr. Francis Young; Charles Bertram and De Situ Britanniae

Conquest: The Rivers and Roads of Flavian Scotland

Boudica, street grids and the changing face of Caistor Roman town



Thursday 24 November, 2022

Dr. Andrew Tibbs

Our 2023/4 schedule is currently in preparation. If you may be a potential future speaker, or have any suggestions for future talks and seminars, please contact us.

Vindolanda a fort and frontier in transition.


Thursday 23 March, 2023

Dr. Andrew Birley

Reinterpreting Roman Roads in the Chilterns - insights from LiDAR data

Thursday 26 January, 2023

Dr. Ed Peveler & Nigel Rothwell


Journey to Britannia


Thursday 8 December, 2022

Bronwen Riley

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 Greek and Latin sources and archaeological evidence, Bronwen Riley evokes the journey of the new governor of Britannia and his entourage from the heart of empire to Hadrian's Wall at its north-western frontier. In this strikingly original history of travel to and within Roman Britain, she evokes the smells, sounds, colours, and sensations of life in the second century.

'An artful combination of history, archaeology and the imagination' -- Mary Beard, New York Review of Books

A brilliant idea, to describe the journey of Julius Severus as he travelled from Rome to Britain to take up his new post of governor of Britain... Well written, eminently readable... It is a must for all interested in the Roman Empire and Roman Britain' -- Prof David J Breeze

In the winter of 2018/19 high resolution LiDAR data was acquired by the Chilterns Conservation Board (CCB) to investigate archaeological features, and particularly the Iron-Age, within the Chilterns. These data, which have been made publicly accessible through the Beacons of the Past Project, have shed new light (literally and figuratively) on an intensively managed Later Prehistoric - Roman agricultural landscape.

We will look at some of the characteristics of 'known' Roman Roads within the Chilterns AONB and illustrate how these data have helped in reinterpreting the relative importance of some of them. We will also explore implications of the discovery of a new alignment of Roman Road on the likely route between Verulamium and Silchester, the so-called 'Camlet Way’.

A typical LiDAR Local Relief Model image over an area of ancient woodland, which here shows the best-preserved section of agger-built Roman Road within the Chilterns.

The front cover of Bronwen’s book, Journey to Britannia

This lecture will draw upon latest research undertaken as part of the University of Exeter's 'Unlocking Landscapes' project, which is taking a crowd-sourced approach to the mapping of archaeological landscapes in the South West using new LiDAR data. It will explore the wider extent of Roman military activity that is now apparent, its context, as well as present evidence for a far-reaching road network crossing the region.

Beyond Isca: new evidence for Roman expansion in South West Britain


Thursday 5 January, 2023

Dr. Chris Smart

The possible river crossing at Bertha

Scotland is one of the few areas of the ancient world which was never completely occupied by the Roman army, and despite numerous attempts, never fully assimilated into the Empire. Arguably, it was during the 1st century that the Imperial Army made the most successful inroads into the lands beyond the province of Britannia, reaching as far as the shores of the Moray Firth in the north. However, the full length and extent of Roman occupation in this period remains debated by scholars.

Based on the findings of his latest research, Dr Andrew Tibbs (Durham University) will explore the role and function of roads and waterways in 1st century Scotland, how they were used by Roman military and what we really know about these today.

Charles Bertram & De Situ Britanniae (Title to be confirmed).


Thursday 20 April, 2023

Dr. Francis Young

The De Situ Britanniae and the eighteen Itineraries contained within it, supposedly compiled by Richard of Cirencester, appear frequently as source material in 18th & 19th century writings on Roman history and Roman roads in particular, and even some 20th century ones, but is generally held to be a hoax perpetrated by Charles Bertram, in the 18th century. Francis will talk about the impact of the document in the context of scholarship on Roman routes and the Antonine Itinerary from John Leland onwards.

Thursday 23 February, 2023

Prof. Will Bowden

Venta Icenorum (Caistor-by-Norwich) was the civitas capital of the Iceni and has long been known for the clarity with which its streets and buildings appear on aerial photographs. Since 2006 the site and its surroundings have been the subject of investigations by the University of Nottingham and Caistor Roman Project, which have changed our understanding of the development of the town. This talk will describe these findings and particularly look the development of the street grid, challenging the idea that the town was laid out in the aftermath of the Boudican revolt, as well as discussing the results of the most recent excavations of the town's extra-mural temple complex.

Aerial photograph of Venta Icenorum © Mike Page 2022.

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Today we see the Roman frontier, especially Hadrian’s Wall, presented as a serene monument fixed in stone. This largely peaceful and tranquil ruin is situated in the beautiful rolling hills of Northumberland. However, such images, while evocative, conceal the grimier ever day realities and opportunities that frontier people faced, either as members of the military community or as those oppressed by them. The fort and settlements at Vindolanda, dating from the earliest occupation of the area and lasting through all the centuries of Roman rule (and beyond) offers a glimpse into the daily struggles and lives of those communities which has yet to be paralleled. The organic soils preserve things which have long rotted away elsewhere, artefacts in wood, leather, textile, and bone. But most of all, it is the letters, thin postcards from the past which are covered in ink handwriting which are the greatest treasure of all. Each one is a window into the very soul of the person who wrote it, each letter, no matter how mundane, is a first-hand account from a time when no great and detailed written histories of Britain have yet been found. They tell the stories of soldiers, slaves, merchants, women and children, everyday folk rather than kings and queens, emperors, or governors. When combined with other material from the site an intimate and lively picture emerges of what it meant to be in a place where nothing ever seemed to have been set in stone.

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Sorry, this talk was not recorded

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Aerial photograph of Vindolanda.

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Most of the talks for our 2022-3 programme were recorded and made viewable after the event on YouTube - use the links below.