On Friday 6th October, those of us who are doing Latin as a 10th GCSE went to St Albans (Verulamium). Boys in years 10 and 11 left school at about 8:30 and began our journey to St Albans. When we arrived outside the museum, we approached a building which had a mosaic tiled floor and a hypocaust system running underneath it. We learnt that the hypocaust system carried steam not only under the floor, but also up the walls, which would make the whole room warm in winter. When the mosaic was excavated, some pottery was found along with it. Mr Harper explained that whilst the occupants of this house did have a piece of valuable pottery, they had more ‘knock-offs’ which were made from cheaper material and was locally sourced. He said that from this, we could tell that whilst these people may have been slightly well off, they didn’t have too much money but still wanted to look rich.
After our look at the mosaic and pottery, we walked to some remains of a defence wall and the foundations of a gate that would have led straight to Londinium, or London. We looked at a picture that showed that either side of the two entrances were two tall watchtowers which would have had soldiers on to protect the entrance to the village Verulamium.
After a photo opportunity of us marching through the gate towards London, we went to visit the museum where we learnt that Verulamium had to be rebuilt several times, before a wall was eventually constructed around it. In the museum was a reconstructed inscription, with some real pieces that we translated before going off in groups to wander round the museum. In the museum we saw tools that were used in the construction of various arches, and we had a go at constructing an arch on our own. We also saw two skeletons of a child and an adult who had been buried long ago next to a lead coffin which they would have been buried in. We then decided to have a tournament of a Roman game. This game was great fun, but we do not yet have a champion.
After a brief look in the shop for souvenirs, we had lunch and then walked to the Roman theatre. This theatre was not a main theatre like an amphitheatre, but it was still big. It would have had events shown such as plays or pantomimes, small gladiatorial fights or even sometimes executions! We then walked past the theatre to some nearby excavations. One of these excavations was a hole in the ground with what seemed to be a sort of shrine set into the wall. We decided that this would have been for worship of either Mithras or some form of underworld God. After this, we walked back to the minibus and came back to school.
On behalf of all the X-set Latinists, I would like to thank Dr Fielden, Dr Lipatov, Mr Harper and Mr Pollock for making this trip extremely enjoyable.
Thomas Mitchell 10TJM