The Roman theatre in Verulamium: My second guest post

About a month back, I wrote a piece titled “Discovering Roman Britain“. It was meant to be a guest post for Shadows Galore. But…

I had a certain idea of what I wanted the post to turn out like, but like many of my posts, it had a mind of its own and turned into a rambling post rather than the focused one that I wanted it to be. So, I rewrote it and tweaked it and edited it. After all this effort, it did read better. A teeny-weeny bit better, but not enough to pass muster (in my eyes) for a guest post . So after much deliberation, I posted it on my own blog.

And immediately got down to working on another idea for the guest post. And that’s how I wrote about the ruins of The Roman Theatre in Verulamium. It is a post that thankfully did turn out almost the way I wanted it to be that is, more focussed and less rambling than the earlier one. And before I got into another cycle of editing and re-writing, I sent it off to Puru of Shadows Galore, who liked it enough (I guess :-) ) to publish it almost immediately.

Click on the screenshot below to read this post. You will let me know about what you think of this post won’t you?

Picture1Puru, thank you so much for hosting me on Shadows Galore. :-)

Discovering Roman Britain

I was introduced to Roman Britain quite unexpectedly on a cold, windy day in October 2008 in London. I had been in London for about 3 weeks then and was already head over heels in love with this beautiful city. Each day was a new day of exploration and between settling into a new city and classes at the university, there was always something wonderful to discover and delight over.

That afternoon, I took a path leading off from Tower Bridge Tube station, a path that led me past a hotel and then, quite suddenly into a walled dead-end. I was about to turn back, when I saw an information board there and walked over to read it. Good thing I did that as this turned out to be the most interesting dead-end !

Part of the original wall surrounding the Roman city of Londinium or London

Part of the original wall surrounding the Roman city of Londinium or London

The information board announced that this was no ordinary wall, but a slice of London’s history. Built by the Romans in 190–220 AD, this wall used to run around the city of Londinium, the Roman name for London. About 9 ft thick at the base and about 20 ft. in height, it was one of the most important and expensive developments in the city at that time. (By medieval times, the height of the wall was increased and though it is not evident in the photograph, the colour of the mortar distinguishes the two sections of the wall.)

My first reaction was, “Wow! So Asterix and Obelix wasn’t an exaggeration; the Romans were really here. Dear old Julius Caesar was really here !” For the rest of the day, I walked around in a kind of daze as the Roman fever took hold. It was a fever that refused to go away and one that I had great pleasure in indulging when I visited erstwhile Roman cities in the UK and explored a part of history that I thought only existed in comic books ! :-)

So join me on my journey of discovering Roman Britain through visits to Camulodunum (present day Colchester), Aquae Sulis (present day Bath), and Verulamium (present day St. Albans) in England. (Strangely, the wall remained my only encounter with Roman Britain in London.) It was a journey that left me breathless, awestruck, and delighted in turn, but always richer in having gained knowledge of something new, and of having discovered a whole new world.

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Museum Treasure: The Shell Mosaic of Verulamium

The Verulamium Museum of Everyday Life in Roman Britain has a stunning collection of artefacts dating back to the Roman period of British history. Much of its exhibits come from excavations of the ancient roman city of Verulamium.

Verulamium was the third largest town in Roman Britain, after Londinium (London) and Camulodunum (Colchester). This ancient Roman city flourished here from about 45 AD to about 420 AD and at its peak, it had a population of about 7,000. It had the status of a municipium (municipality) and had a basilica (town hall), a forum (market place) and a theatre. Verulamium was near the present day city of St. Albans, which is about 20 minutes by train from London.

I was very fortunate to visit this museum as part of a day trip to St. Albans about 3 years back, and the Roman mosaics in the Museum’s collection is something that I have not forgotten even after all this while. These mosaics are nearly 2000 years old, and if you were to see them, you would be forgiven for thinking that they were made yesterday ! Mosaics are very difficult to preserve and the Romans must be credited with creating such high quality pieces of art which have lasted centuries.

From L to R: the Dahlia Mosaic, the Shell Mosaic, and the Oceanus/Neptune Mosaic

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