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What lies beneath?

January 29, 2009

Earthworks in field at Maryport

Just one of a collection of sad pedantic photos stored on the Downie computer, most of which mean nothing to anybody else. Yes, it is a large empty field with a few lumps in it and a row of houses  on the horizon. (Click on it for the larger version and you can see the Lake District fells in the background. And get an even better view of the grass.)

The point, though, is that it’s all that’s currently visible of the Roman fort at Maryport, on the Cumbrian coast. This was one of a chain of defences built to keep an eye on the marauding northerners, lest they sneak around the western edge of the border.

Had it not been perishing cold when we were there last year I’d probably have another photo of the empty field next door to this, where the garrison’s civilian hangers-on used to live.

Pretty soon, though, there should be better photos to be had – because they’re going to dig, hooray! Who knows what wonderful things are lying there waiting to be found? Whatever they are, they”ll be displayed in a new museum on site.

The name of Rianorix, a character in the second Ruso book, came from a tombstone at Maryport. With luck, we’ll find out more about the lives of the real Rianorix’s friends and relations. There are plans to get a lot of the work done by 2012, so there won’t be long to wait.

In the meantime, the current Senhouse Museum, housed in a fine Victorian military building, is well worth catching before its collection is moved. (We really enjoyed a morning in the  aquarium down on the sea front, too. Hey, if everybody stops buying the Ruso books maybe I’ll go for a job with the Tourist Board.)

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2 comments

  1. When I lived in the UK, my parents used to take us to Waterhead, near Ambleside. Opposite the house where we stayed (Borrans Court), there was some sort of grassed-over village which I believe had a plaque saying it was of archeological significance. That might have been Roman too. Much later in life, I saw a part of Hadrian’s wall and had a most peculiar feeling of recognition. Maybe my ancestors once lived there.
    I have now enjoyed both your books in the audio version – Sean Barrett is such an excellent reader – and can’t wait for your latest.
    Many thanks for being such an interesting and unusual writer, I am sure your research must have been fascinating.

    Lynda
    New Zealand


  2. You’re absolutely right, Lynda – it looks as though you were staying opposite the site of Ambleside Roman Fort. There are links to maps at http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/catalogue/search/fr.cfm?rcn=NTSMR-NA4278
    (Isn’t the Internet amazing?!)

    Delighted to know you’ve enjoyed the books and it’s great to hear from somebody in New Zealand. Yes, the research is enormous fun: sometimes I feel guilty that I can enjoy myself so much and still call it ‘work’!

    If you’re ever back this way, you’ll find that much more of Hadrian’s wall is accessible these days and it’s well worth a return visit.



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