Less walking, more simply traversing the road today: a bus from Dartford to Rochester, as the A2 follows the path of the road here – and is unwalkable. As a result, it means I have a day to spend in Rochester, and Jeremy Clarke from the Guildhall Museum kindly offered to get me involved with his activities today.
I sit in on school workshops with year 4, where we pass around genuine Roman artefacts and make discoveries: a samian bowl with the name ‘Varinus’ scratched into the base, a deceptively hard to identify (a key? a door knocker? a magnifying glass?) horse bit. The whole session is lots of fun and gives the pupils a chance to really understand Roman Britain in a tactile and hands-on way. Less hands-on and more paw-on: I tweeted about this Roman roof tile with the imprint of a dog’s paw, which people loved!
Later, Jeremy leads a walk around Rochester to talk about the Roman settlement of Durobrivae, or ‘fort by the bridges’. And it’s at the current bridge we start, and wondering about that name – which comes from pre-Roman origins. It must have been here that Celtic and Romans created the means to cross the River Medway, and the Roman Road must run straight through Rochester: a regularly maintained dual carriageway has been found in the high street. It’s an excellent talk and throughly engaging for the 25 or so people.
I’m hoping that my posts and tweets about the walk, and the poems I’m making, will be just as engaging! The project is part-sponsored by the University of Kent’s Public Engagement with Research, so I’m keen to make sure that what I find out – supported by the experts I’m meeting – reaches people. What do you want to know about, or see made from this walk? Comment below, or tweet @dansimpsonpoet.
The last thing from today is quite exciting. One of the objects we looked at is a bronze figure found in nearby Frindsbury, and was thought to be a depiction of Jupiter or Cupid. I tweeted about it and Prof. Ray Laurence responded that it looked like a Lar – a household god. When I said it was found here he was excited – he’d never seen one found in Britain before! We’ll see what happens with that one…
Now to work on a couple of poem ideas – hopefully share something soon!