Denise Allen and Mike Bryan
Amberley Publishing, £19.99
Review Andrew Tibbs
It is not easy to describe 400 years of activity stretching from southern England almost to the edge of Scotland, but Denise Allen and Mike Bryan take to the challenge in Roman Britain and Where to Find It, a new touring guide to Roman sites across the country. Each chapter (representing different regions of the UK) contains a brief summary of Roman history in the area, before going on to describe the individual sites, along with directions for visiting.
Beginning in southern England, Allen and Bryan detail some of the more well-known sites, such as Silchester Roman town and Bignor Roman villa, as well as some of the lesser-known places, such as Crofton Roman villa at Orpington. From south-east England, the book moves into the south-west, then the Home Counties, East Anglia, Wales, and the Midlands, before covering sites in northern England. Hadrian’s Wall gets a chapter to itself, and the authors detail the main forts and sites that can be visited on and around the Wall, some of which may be new to readers unfamiliar with this Roman monument. The next chapter goes on to describe a selection of Roman sites in Scotland, including the Antonine Wall. The book concludes with a glossary-cum-index, a list of the ‘People of Roman Britain’, a timeline, and a rather brief ‘Further Reading’ section.
Condensing a guide to Roman Britain into a single volume is always going to be difficult – which sites are left in and which are not? While it is not easy to do justice to the many sites the length and breadth of the UK, Allen and Bryan make a worthy attempt. This is a good book for interested amateurs and those just beginning to explore Roman Britain, but it may not be detailed enough for those looking to expand their knowledge (a larger ‘Further Reading’ section would have helped). The volume could be enhanced by more-accurate maps and consistent directions for reaching sites, but this does not detract from what is an enjoyable read. It will no doubt introduce readers to many sites they have not yet explored themselves.