DOE Guide: The Antonine Wall

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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.

DOE Guide: Hardknott Roman Fort

ImageThe DOE published a series of small folded guides, printed on both sides. They tended to be for unstaffed sites.

The one for Hardknott Roman Fort was prepared by Dorothy Charlesworth and was published in 1972. The cost was 6 p.

The text covers two and a half columns, with an introduction on the name, Mediobogdum. There is then a discussion of the date, followed by a description of the physical remains.

There are three images of the site, and a simple plan covering two (of the four) columns.

There is also a short paragraph on ‘How to get there’.

DOE Guide: Chester

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The Department of the Environment also published a series of paper guides such as that for The Roman Amphiteatre at Chester by F.H. Thompson (reprinted 1972; cost 2 1/2 pence). Therewere seven pages of text, and a double page plan of the amphitheatre (although more than half was unexcavated).

The sections included an introduction (to amphitheatres in the Roman Empire), the discovery of the Chester amphitheatre (in 1929), the excavation and its results, and problems of excavation and conservation.

The guide also pointed out issues relating to the modern drainage for the site.

Archaeological guides: DOE

Caerleon
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.

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