OK, something of an excursion from the Weald to the Thames Valley.
Calleva Atrebatum is a Roman site between Basingstoke and Reading, close to the village of Silchester. It was a major town in Roman Britain and along with Viroconium, by Wroxeter on the Welsh borders one of the only major Roman settlements not to have been colonised by later Saxon or Viking migrants.
On the one hand it’s slightly curious that a major Roman site with some pretty impressive walls only 30 minutes or so from the M25 doesn’t attract more attention.
On the other hand I suspect that people might find Calleva Atrebatum slightly disconcerting, acting as a reminder of the impermenance of all human achievement. It’s the fact that it’s abandoned, rather than absorbed into a newer settlement that makes it so.
I went to Silchester to record a short segment for my forthcoming Radio 4 series with Mary Ann Ochota, anthropologist and TV presenter. Mary Ann is one of those people who postively bubble with enthusiasm and she’s no slouch when it comes to history either.
If you do happen to find yourself in the area take a stroll around. If you happen to know any aspiring politicians, property developers or architects or anyone else who entertains grandiose dreams of leaving an indelible mark on our world take them with you. It’ll do them good.