The Saxon Shore

Saxon Shore

In 1964 the Department of the Environment produced a small booklet (40 pages) on The Roman Forts of the Saxon Shore by Leonard Cottrell. (My 1971 reprint cost 14 p.) This was illustrated with black and white photographs, plans, and a map showing the location of the forts.

The booklet covered the following themes (with an emphasis on the forts under the guardianship of the Department of the Environment):

1. What was the “Saxon Shore”?

2. The nine forts in order

3. What was the purpose of the forts?

4. Burgh and Reculver

5. Richborough, Pevensey and Portchester

The booklet concludes with a bibliography.

Heritage Futures

You may have noticed that the blog has gained the name: “Heritage Futures”.  This reflects the development of the heritage research unit based at UCS into something a little more formal as a collaboration of researchers and professionals recognised within the University infrastructure.  It will also enable us to brand our activities more effectively, capturing the spirit of what we are about, and how we want to engage with the sector.  We’re working with the marketing team to develop some materials which explain more about what we do that can be used for different audiences to connect with us.  We’ll showcase these on the blog as they develop.

Wales: The Future of Our Past

Bastion and walls of Caerwent Roman town
© David Gill

The Welsh Government has published its report on the future of heritage in Wales (press release, English, Cymraeg).

‘Both the plans and panel will support a strong overarching strategic framework within which Cadw can continue to provide leadership for the historic environment sector at a national level and use its sponsorship relationship with the Commission to promote and reinforce mutual priorities.

‘The consultation response to the proposals to merge Cadw and the Royal Commission was mixed and having carefully considered these views, in addition to the evidence and analysis undertaken by my officials, I’ve decided that both organisations will remain separate for the time being.

‘This avoids the financial costs, organisational risks and disruption to the sector at a time when public resources are scarce.’

The consultation document and responses can be found here.

DOE Guide: The Antonine Wall


The Department of Environment published guides on behalf of the Secretary of State for Scotland. The one for the Roman frontier known as the Antonine Wall was published in 1973 with a second impression in 1974. The text is by David J. Breeze, with illustrations by Tom Borthwick. The guide is printed with the equivalent of 6 pages on each side of the folded strip. The cost was 10p.

Four pages have a colour map showing the line of the wall with ‘the best places to see the wall’.

The text sections have an introduction to the Antonine Wall, as well as the Roman army. The reverse covers four of the forts: Rough Castle, Castlecary, Croy Hill, and Bar Hill. There is a plan for each of the four forts, and there is an additional aerial photograph of Rough Castle. Local directions are provided for each fort.

There is a short reading list of three items that includes the OS Map of the Antonine Wall.

Archaeological guides: DOE

DOE Guidebook (1970)

We have been reflecting on what makes a good guidebook to a site. My shelves have strategically situated Department of the Environment ‘Official Guidebooks’ in their standard blue covers. The one for Caerleon states “Caerleon Roman Amphitheatre and Barrack Buildings, Monmouthshire”. There is a parallel title in Welsh, “Theatr Gron Rufeinig Caerllion a Llety’r Milwyr, Sir Fynwy”. The cost was 10p.

The text is authoritative, penned by Sir Mortimer Wheeler and Dr V.E. Nash Williams. The guide is divided into sections: ‘Caerleon in legend and history’, ‘The amphitheatre’, ‘The Prysg field barrack-buildings’, and ‘Caerllion’ (in Welsh). There are few photographs (one of the barracks, the amphitheatre, ovens in the corner of the fort), a double page reconstruction of the amphitheatre, and two large fold-out plans in the back.

The tone is academic, and was probably not very practical. But it was a solid text to consider after the visit.

%d bloggers like this: