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? Read more...
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 an extensive range of Greek and Latin sources with a sound understanding of archaeology, Bronwen Riley describes an epic journey from Rome to Hadrian's Wall at the empire's northwestern frontier. In this strikingly original history of Roman Britain, she evokes the smells, sounds, colors, and sensations of life in the second century.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-06-27
- Reviewer: Staff
Riley, head of guidebooks at English Heritage, imagines a second-century C.E. travelogue based around Sextus Julius Severus's journey from Rome to Britain upon assuming his post as governor of Britannia in 130 C.E. Making clear that much is based on conjecture, Riley builds on documentary and archaeological evidence, and borrows relatable information from other areas of the empire or adjacent time periods in Britannia to provide a logically plausible scenario. She begins with a sketch of the Eternal City itself, moving northward across Gaul to Britannia and taking time along the journey to describe various aspects of life for a Roman citizen of the time. Once in Britain, Riley follows the course that Severus might have taken on his first tour of the province, giving precise distances between stops as well as including known features of each settlement and both Roman and modern names. A postscript delivers a further brief history of Britain under Roman rule and an idea of what a modern visitor might see at the various sites. There are maps and diagrams scattered throughout that help to bring this journey to life. Riley gives readers a reasonable snapshot of life as it might have been in second-century Britain. (May)