Romer Roams With The Romans!

This week DC is on holiday, and having failed to find anywhere pleasant in Bavaria to visit at short notice decided to mooch around the Cotswolds, just enjoying his time off.  On Tuesday he called me up and asked if I fancied  day exploring the Roman remains in the Cotswolds, and so we set off sightseeing.  I think this region was Britannia Primus, the first district of Roman Britain, and it seems little known outside of historians just how important South-West Britain was in the Roman period. We started by driving the twenty or so miles down to Cirencester, Roman Corinium, and drove past the amphitheatre to park up in town as  we were  hungry.  Still I have found a picture of the site today…

Cirencester Amphitheatre

Cirencester Amphitheatre from Wikimedia Commons

Anyway we parked up in the car-park in the centre of town and wandered round to the Black Horse, a lovely little pub in the centre of town that pleased DC by selling Jennings beer, his local (when he is in his native lands)  Cumbrian brewery. I don’t drink these days, but I did enjoy the food which was excellent and fairly moderately priced. I have known about the place for years, owing to a story reported by Marc Alexander in his book Haunted Inns that I read many years ago – I seem to recall the case was of a chap who woke to see an elderly woman in his room; she went to the window and scratched something there with a diamond ring, and when he leapt out of bed she vanished. In the morning though the pane of glass apparently had a name carved in to it.  I may be getting the details wrong – it’s decades since I owned a copy of the book, but I’m pretty sure his source was the vale of the Vale of the White Horse Gazette from 1937. I used the story in a Pendragon RPG adventure many years ago when the knights spent the night in the hostelry here, as a start for an adventure – but that’s a different story!

black horse cirencester

The Black Horse, Cirencester - click for link

I asked the pretty young barmaid if she knew anything of it, but it was her first week there as a trainee, and the manager was away. Oh well! We tried years ago when James was still alive to organise a PARASOC ghost investigation there but nothing ever came of it, and as it only has three hotel bedrooms we are not sure that even GSUK could manage much, unless we take a much smaller group than usual. It’s very reasonably priced for accomodation though, and the food was excellent, and the beer apparently good.

I snapped a shot of Cirencester as we walked

I snapped a shot of Cirencester as we walked

We wandered through Cirencester, a pleasant little place, to the museum. It’s excellent, one of the best I have seen actually, with some superb exhibits — it actually seems rather out of place in such a tiny town, but it benefited from a £5 million refit a few years back, and I heartily recommend it to anyone interested in Britain before the Vikings. The medieval and later centuries do not get much emphasis, but the Roman and Saxon material really interested me – some readers of my blog will know that I wrote my ‘A’ Level History project on The Problem of Romano-British Survival, and what got me in to trouble in 1987 – saying the archaeological evidence pointed to assimilation and a native population adopting Saxon culture, not being exterminated and replaced in a genocidal war – is now twenty odd years later I believe pretty much the norm.   There are some wonderful mosaics from the latisfundia and villas that ringed the region, probably to my mind the richest area of Roman Britain, and I wish I had taken photographs, but I did not stop to enquire about the rules on photographing exhibits. The only photographs I have are therefore of me and DC. This  website however is a great place to catch a glimpse of what treasures are held within: sadly I can not find  museum website…

I took a snap of DC, who entered in to the spirit of things with the dressing-up box. He may appear as a Lunar officer in a forthcoming Gloranthan RPG session of mine looking like that! Even better than dressing up, we then found a Tabula (Roman boardgame) table with the counters, and set about a game, which occupied us for an entire hour. Made a nice change from modern Eurogames, but it seems that you can’t stop us being gamers, and it was hard fought till finally DC won! (He always wins boardgames actually…) Here is DC considering his next move!

DC playing tabula

DC playing tabula: he won!

It’s quite a fun game actually, and I thought I was winning when I finally got most of my pieces in the last quarter — I was wrong as it turned out. I’ll beat him when we play Hnefatafl though, I have the Viking blood!

I thought including activities like this in the museum was a nice touch. I spoke to the lady (Curator/Assistant Curator/Musueum Assistant – i’m not sure which she was) on the desk and joked very few people must play the game? She said no, it was very popular, people get absorbed in it and it’s hard ot throw them out when five o’ clock comes round and she is trying to close the galleries!

We had coffee and cake in the museum tea room, and talked politics for a while over the days papers before going outside to look at some modern frescoes and murals, and plotted paiting David’s garden walls likewise. Then finally, and a little reluctantly we emerged back on to the rainy streets of Cirencester, David with a book on Romano-British religion, I with no money with a set of little metal Romans he bought me for use in our game sessions, and made our way back to to Cheltenham.  I apologize for boring you all with my “holiday snaps”, but thought might be worth sahring and make a nice change from chronicling the Cork Poltergeist over on my Polterwotsit blog…

Cirencester outside the Museum

Cirencester outside the Museum


About Chris Jensen Romer

I am a profoundly dull, tedious and irritable individual. I have no friends apart from two equally ill mannered cats, and a lunatic kitten. I am a ghosthunter by profession, and professional cat herder. I write stuff and do TV things and play games. It's better than being real I find.
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One Response to Romer Roams With The Romans!

  1. Murray66 says:

    Always love the pics from there. It’s like you’re driving through a history book.

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