Patti McGill Peterson Center for International and Intercultural Studies
I was given a travel enrichment grant to travel throughout England and visit the archeological ruins of Roman Britain which have been persevered to the present day. England was a province of the Roman Empire from 43 A.D. until 409 A.D. when the legions pulled out. Across those three centuries the Romans left thousands of ruins, inscriptions, and artifacts behind. In visiting a few of the more noteworthy sites of antiquity my goal was to get hands on experience with the Roman past which has fascinated me for my entire college career, and now serves as the basis of my senior honors thesis. I therefore decided to use my spring break time to explore these fascinating historical sites.
I first went to the Roman Palace in Fishbourne, along the south coast of England where a number of mosaic floors were unearthed in the 1960s by a group of Sussex amateur archeologists after a bulldozer operator accidentally uncovered the floors. The museum contained a number of tools and remarkably preserved roof tiles, but the real drawing point were the aforementioned mosaic floors. Though time had damaged many, the carefully laid stones were indescribably beautiful. On in particular, depicting Cupid atop a dolphin was unbelievably moving. To see something so old, yet still intact made the past so much more tangible.
Following Fishbourne I journeyed up to Wales to visit Caerleon where the remains of a Roman barracks could be found. The site contained the ruins of the barracks, a bathhouse, and an amphitheater. Little remained of the barracks; however the amphitheater made me feel like I’d gone back to the period. There was something inescapably heavy about setting foot in the amphitheater, knowing that two thousand years ago lounging soldiers had watched gladiators compete and die where I stood. I had felt similar as I walked past the floors of Fishbourne, knowing that decisions about Britannia had been made there by men reclining on couches and drinking wine. It was humbling to be in the presence of such weight and age.
I am indebted to the school and Glitz family for allowing me these opportunities. Though I did not conduct formal research, the memories I’ve made exploring Britain and its Roman past have informed my senior honors work. I have been given the honor of seeing and touching fragments of this part of history which interests me. To the Glitz Family and St. Lawrence University I cannot say thank you enough times.