I begin the day at Fleur De Lis Heritage Centre in Faversham, and see some great examples of Roman coins and jewellery.
Then it’s off for the longest leg of my walk – towards Canterbury, via Bigbury Hill fort. Two and a bit hours of solid walking gets me to Harbledown, where I’ve arranged to meet Lloyd. He takes me to Bigbury, around tight roads and undulating landscape. You can still see the work of the Iron Age people, with signs of ramparts and enclosures. This is one of the few possible sites of Caesar’s 54AD battle in Kent, and the whole place is very evocative. I speak to Kent Uni’s Andy Bates – who has been digging and researching the area – on the phone, and he talk me through the site. Then I get to play with some more archeological equipment – geophysical (geofizz) surveying gear. It looks like a TIE fighter.
We climb to the top of the fort, and it’s an impressive view over Kent. A commanding position up a steep hill reinforced with triple ramparts – a tough place to attack. From here the fort looks down two valleys and across the countryside. Opposite is another hill in Homestall Woods, where a recent LiDAR survey found evidence of an earthworks. You can just glimpse Canterbury too! Clearly this was a busy and important area – at least, until the Romans arrived.
Back to the road and the last part of the walk – a short step to Canterbury via the London Road, which I’ve been on and off since Shooters Hill. And suddenly I’m in Durovernum Cantiacorum!
I get my poems and notes together for the evening’s event launching Canterbury Roman Museum’s incredible new acquisition of an Iron Age funeral helmet, where we hear of its fascinating history from Paul Bennett of Canterbury Archeological Trust. I talk about the walk and perform some poems. The whole event is a brilliant conclusion to my week.
Huge thanks to everyone at Canterbury Museums for their engagement with the walk this week and involving me in the event, and to the University of Kent’s School of European Culture and Languages, and Public Engagement with Research teams for sponsoring the project. Special thanks to Ray Laurence and Lloyd Bosworth for their constant support and expertise – it made this week one of the most interesting I’ve had as a poet, and the project one of the best I’ve worked on.
I am still in residency at Canterbury Roman Museum, and have more poems to share in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned for more ways to engage with the project! If you’ve liked it so far, come say hi on Twitter @dansimpsonpoet and with the hashtag #romanresidency.