Saturday, April 09, 2011


It is April.

We went to Shropshire, where, in a field

is a reminder of the ephemeral nature of not just man, but empires. Outside a tiny village called Wroxeter are the remains of what used to be the fourth largest city in Britain. In Roman times over 5,000 people lived here. The only feature left is the outline of baths (caldarium, tepidarium, frigidarium - hot bath to cold bath)

and this one large wall which formed the entrance from gymnasium to frigidarium.

They bathed (even outside for 60 years until, presumably, they acknowledged that the British weather was far too cold), used the latrines (this is the drainage channel)

steamed, anointed them selves with oils and scraped themselves clean, then went shopping in an adjacent market hall.

They lived in houses like this:

reconstructed on a platform not to disturb the still-to-be-excavated remains with internal gardens and gentle Shropshire views.

All the remains now is this outline and the Roman road.

Later, after the Romans left, everyone forgot what they'd learnt. The city decayed. A Welsh poem recorded the wife of a Prince watching the white city burn from the hills, and in Medieval times moved to a more sheltered spot.

taking a little Roman wall with them.


Blogger Paul Halpern said...

That is absolutely remarkable! I had heard that Shropshire is one of the most rural of England's counties, but hadn't realised that it once housed such a formidable city, now in ruins. I'm surprised about the style of the reconstructed house-it doesn't look Roman--but perhaps they incorporated local architectural influences.

Sun Apr 10, 01:11:00 am  
Blogger Kay Cooke said...

IThat's what I adore about Britai - the history one can stumble across in a paddock. Must be full of atmosphere round there ... the very stones telling a story. Lovely!

Sun Apr 10, 09:29:00 am  
Blogger Kay Cooke said...

Sorry about sp. mistakes in above comment - forgot to edit before sending!

Sun Apr 10, 09:30:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Yes, I think it is too, Paul! When we first went there, a few years ago, it seemed even more remarkable because there was very little else there, except for a wall and ruins in a field. The reconstructed house featured on a TV programme recently. They made it under the direction of an expert, using exclusively Roman techniques, apparently. I agree though, it doesn't look Roman to me either, I'm not sure why - maybe it is because of the colour scheme and the rendering.

Sun Apr 10, 09:34:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Ha, Kay, I'm always doing that!

Yes, there is an atmosphere - a sad one, really, for me, anyway. I understand many poets have been attracted enough to the place to write about it, too. It's a powerful metaphor.

Sun Apr 10, 09:39:00 am  
Blogger Sue Guiney said...

I had no idea. you" re forever opening up my eyes to such things. thanks!

Sun Apr 10, 10:54:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

My pleasure, Sue! It's well worth a visit, if you're ever up these parts.

Sun Apr 10, 11:35:00 am  
Anonymous marly youmans said...

The wife of a prince watching the white city burn from the hills: positively Tolkienesque!

As always, I love going along with you on an excursion. And just think, soon I will do it in person! Getting just a bit excited about that! I shall have to try and squeeze one of your books in my little bag...

Wed Apr 13, 07:35:00 pm  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Yes, I am too! Can't wait. Please don't weigh yourself down with my books, though! They are not the slimmest tomes.

And yes, I really loved that idea when I read about it, the idea of someone actually seeing this city burn. It must have been dramatic.

Really looking forward to seeing you, Marly.

Thu Apr 14, 08:48:00 am  

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