I’m delighted to say that my first book, ‘Treasures of Roman Lincolnshire’, will be published on October 15th 2016 by Amberley Publishing. Aimed at the general reader, the book will provide a thematic overview of Roman Lincolnshire, taking objects and monuments as the starting point to explore wider themes of life in Roman Lincolnshire and how the county fits into the wider picture of Roman Britain and the Roman Empire.
A major aim of the book was to set the basics in context. Too many people I speak to (some of whom have worked in the Lincolnshire heritage scene for long enough) seem to struggle to understand some of the underlying concepts of Roman archaeology locally and nationally. Maybe its the curse of being a Romanist – the Romans are everywhere so everyone thinks they know all about them. The reality, however, was that people fundamentally misunderstood, for example, the fact that Lincoln was a legionary fortress before the foundation of the Colonia. Ironically lots of people focus on the short military phase of the site and ignore the rather important and much longer lived civilian phase – constantly referring to the fortress as if it were the only part of the site’s story. Other people still see the Roman period as one in which a few boatloads of Italians turned up, imposed their culture wholesale and then scarpered a few hundred years later, as if the native population vanished from existence in the meantime.
On a more complex note, I also wanted to get across some of the great leaps that have been made in interpretations of Roman archaeology in recent decades such as our attempts to lose our obsession with empire and viewing the Romans through the lens of British imperialism. I hope that if this book achieves anything, it will be that at least one reader when contemplating Roman Lincolnshire will start to think of a native rural farmer scraping a living in the Lincolnshire countryside rather than the usual panoply of emperors, soldiers, and traders entering the province. Though of course these all feature in the book, I hope that they’ve been given no greater importance than the native population.
The finds that provide the gateway to the wider context mainly come from the archaeological collections at The Collection in Lincoln. Aside from this being very handy for me as I curate them and therefore know them pretty well, it’s a chance to get some of the objects I’m personally very fond of and fascinated by out to a wider audience. Although some items are fairly well known, such as the tombstone of nonegenarian Claudia Crysis, others, like the small bronze head of Attis, consort of the Anatolian goddess Cybele, have long deserved a higher profile. Further objects are those recorded with the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and I am eternally grateful for their open approach to copyright licensing that allows books like mine to publish their images for free.
Hopefully the book will fill a niche in the literature. Its not intended to compete with the more academic volumes out there, but hopefully makes their content more understandable for the non-specialist, in a visual and accessible way. If you read the book, I’d love to know what you think in the comments!