Roman Tube Maps

Roman road network, represented in a subway-style schematic transport map, by Sasha Trubetskoy (http://sashat.me/2017/06/03/roman-roads/).
Roman roads of Britain, represented in a subway-style schematic transport map, by Sasha Trubetskoy (http://sashat.me/2017/07/23/roman-roads-of-britain/).

Boadicea: An Ode

WHEN the British warrior queen,
Bleeding from the Roman rods,
Sought, with an indignant mien,
Counsel of her country’s gods,

Sage beneath a spreading oak
Sat the Druid, hoary chief;
Every burning word he spoke
Full of rage, and full of grief.

‘Princess! if our aged eyes
Weep upon thy matchless wrongs,
’Tis because resentment ties
All the terrors of our tongues.

‘Rome shall perish—write that word
In the blood that she has spilt;
Perish, hopeless and abhorred,
Deep in ruin as in guilt.

‘Rome, for empire far renowned,
Tramples on a thousand states;
Soon her pride shall kiss the ground—
Hark! the Gaul is at her gates!

‘Other Romans shall arise,
Heedless of a soldier’s name;
Sounds, not arms, shall win the prize—
Harmony the path to fame.

‘Then the progeny that springs
From the forests of our land,
Armed with thunder, clad with wings,
Shall a wider world command.

‘Regions Cæsar never knew
Thy posterity shall sway,
Where his eagles never flew,
None invincible as they.’

Such the bard’s prophetic words,
Pregnant with celestial fire,
Bending, as he swept the chords
Of his sweet but awful lyre.

She, with all a monarch’s pride,
Felt them in her bosom glow;
Rushed to battle, fought, and died;
Dying, hurled them at the foe.

‘Ruffians, pitiless as proud,
Heaven awards the vengeance due:
Empire is on us bestowed,
Shame and ruin wait for you.’

— William Cowper.

That Britain Might Not Totally Be Enveloped in the Dark Shades of Night

The martyrdom of St. Alban from a 13th Century manuscript of The Life of St. Alban (Dublin, Trinity College Library, MS E. I. 40, folio 38r). Matthew Paris was both scribe and illuminator for this manuscript.
The martyrdom of St. Alban from a 13th Century manuscript of The Life of St. Alban (Dublin, Trinity College Library, MS E. I. 40, folio 38r). Matthew Paris was both scribe and illuminator for this manuscript.

Chapter X.

magnificauit igitur misericordiam suam nobiscum deus uolens omnes homines saluos fieri et uocans non minus peccatores quam eos qui se putant iustos. qui gratuito munere, supra dicto ut conicimus persecutionis tempore, ne penitus crassa atrae noctis caligine britannia obfuscaretur, clarissimos lampades sanctorum martyrum nobis accendit, quorum nunc corporum sepulturae et passionum loca, si non lugubri diuortio barbarorum quam plurima ob scelera nostra ciuibus adimerentur, non minimum intuentium mentibus ardorem diuinae caritatis incuteren: sanctum albanum uerolamiensem, aaron et iulium legionum urbis ciues ceterosque utriusque sexus diuersis in locis summa magnanimitate in acie christi perstantes dico.

Chapter XI.

quorum prior postquam caritatis gratia confessorem persecutoribus insectatum et iam iamque comprehendendum, imitans et in hoc christum animam pro ouibus ponentem, domo primum ac mutatis dein mutuo uestibus occuluit et se discrimini in fratris supra dicti uestimentis libenter persequendum dedit, ita deo inter sacram confessionem cruoremque coram impiis romana tum stigmata cum horribili fantasia praeferentibus placens signorum miraculis mirabiliter adornatus est, ut oratione feruenti illi israeliticae arenti uiae minusque tritae, stante diu arca prope glareas testamenti in medio iordanis canali, simile iter ignotum, trans tamesis nobilis fluuii alueum, cum mille uiris sicco ingrediens pede suspensis utrimque modo praeruptorum fluuialibus montium gurgitibus aperiret et priorem carnificem tanta prodigia uidentem in agnum ex lupo mutaret et una secum triumphalem martyrii palmam sitire uehementius et excipere fortius faceret.

ceteri uero sic diuersis cruciatibus torti sunt et inaudita membrorum discerptione lacerati ut absque cunctamine gloriosi in egregiis ierusalem ueluti portis martyrii sui trophaea defigerent. nam qui superfuerant siluis ac desertis abditisque speluncis se occultauere, expectantes a iusto rectore omnium deo carnificibus seuera quandoque iudicia, sibi uero animarum tutamina.

De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae, ii. 10-11., Gildas.

Continue reading “That Britain Might Not Totally Be Enveloped in the Dark Shades of Night”

The Voice of the Irish

Detail of shrine of St. Patrick at Our Lady of the Atonement Church (Anglican Use), San Antonio, Texas.
Detail of shrine of St. Patrick at Our Lady of the Atonement Church (Anglican Use), San Antonio, Texas.

And after a few years I was again in Britain with my parents [kinsfolk], and they welcomed me as a son, and asked me, in faith, that after the great tribulations I had endured I should not go anywhere else away from them. And, of course, there, in a vision of the night, I saw a man whose name was Victoricus coming as if from Ireland with innumerable letters, and he gave me one of them, and I read the beginning of the letter: ‘The Voice of the Irish’; and as I was reading the beginning of the letter I seemed at that moment to hear the voice of those who were beside the forest of Foclut which is near the western sea, and they were crying as if with one voice: ‘We beg you, holy youth, that you shall come and shall walk again among us.’ And I was stung intensely in my heart so that I could read no more, and thus I awoke. Thanks be to God, because after so many years the Lord bestowed on them according to their cry.

Confession of St. Patrick, no. 23.

An Eternal Example of Your Clemency

Andrew Birrell (after Henry Fuseli), Caractacus at the Tribunal of Claudius at Rome (1792).
Andrew Birrell (after Henry Fuseli), Caractacus at the Tribunal of Claudius at Rome (1792).

If the degree of my nobility and fortune had been matched by moderation in success, I would have come to this City as a friend rather than a captive, nor would you have disdained to receive with a treaty of peace one sprung from brilliant ancestors and commanding a great many nations. But my present lot, disfiguring as it is for me, is magnificent for you. I had horses, men, arms, and wealth: what wonder if I was unwilling to lose them? If you wish to command everyone, does it really follow that everyone should accept your slavery? If I were now being handed over as one who had surrendered immediately, neither my fortune nor your glory would have achieved brilliance. It is also true that in my case any reprisal will be followed by oblivion. On the other hand, if you preserve me safe and sound, I shall be an eternal example of your clemency.

— Tacitus, Annals 12:37.

The Great Torc from Snettisham

The Great Snettisham Torc is constructed from just over a kilogram of gold mixed with silver. It is made from sixty-four threads. Each thread was 1.9 mm wide. Eight threads were twisted together at a time to make eight separate ropes of metal. These were then twisted around each other to make the final torc. The ends of the torc were cast in moulds. The hollow ends were then welded onto the ropes. The torc was found when the field at Ken Hill, Snettisham was ploughed in 1950. Other hoards were found in the same field in 1948 and 1990. The torc was buried tied together with a complete bracelet by another torc. A coin found in caught in the ropes of the Great Torc suggests the hoard was buried around 75 BC.

 

Snettisham Hoard

The Snettisham Hoard in the British Museum.

The Snettisham Hoard is a series of discoveries of Iron Age precious metal, found in the Snettisham area of the English county of Norfolk between 1948 and 1973.

The hoard consists of metal, jet and over 150 gold torc fragments, more than 70 of which form complete torcs, dating from 70 BC. Though the origins are unknown it is of a high enough quality to have been royal treasure of the Iceni.

In 1985 there was also a find of Romano-British jewellery and raw materials buried in a clay pot in AD 155, the Snettisham Jeweller’s Hoard. Though it has no direct connection with the nearby Iron Age finds, it may be evidence of a long tradition of gold- and silver-working in the area. This apparent tradition extends further into the Roman period in Norfolk, as evidenced by a later hoard of metalwork known as the Thetford treasure.

The finds are deposited in Norwich Castle Museum and the British Museum.