Above. Upton Romano-British Farm. Keith Jarvis points to the vertical wattlework, an experimental feature based on evidence from Roman London.
Below. The Archeodrome: part of the reconstructed Roman villa.
Peter Reynolds made sur e I was comfortable on my hay bale and wouldn't fall off when he made his announcement: 'David, we're going to build a villa!' The Butser Ancient Farm is full of surprises, but thi s one caugh t me off my guard . For normally , Peter i s so convinced of th e superiority of Iron Age Celts that I seldom dare to stand up for 'the Romans' - especially in front of my students - since I always lose the argument . So this could hardl y be a sudden conversion to Rome, and I waited for the real reason: the National Curriculum. Whatever the merits of the Celts, History in schools today has to start with the Romans. And the experimental Iron Age complex at
Butser has to move with the times.
In this respect we all have to move with the times, and Britain is far behind Europe as far as three-dimensional Roman buildings are concerned. To be precise, we have six current projects, nearly all of them still on the drawing-board; and five completed displays that can actually be visited - all, curiously, militar y or defensiv e i n character . Best known, perhaps, is The Lunt, Baginton, a fine displa y of turf and timber construction . Elsewhere we can admir e th e towerin g reconstructed masonry defences of Cardiff and Manchester, and sample sections of Hadrian's Wall (turf and stone phases, with turrets) at Vindolanda. The vast gateway at South Shields gives a superb view of the excavated fort, wher e a n ambitiou s programme of replica structures is in the planning stage.
My favourite project, due for completion in 1995, is the centrepiece of the Upton Romano-British Farm near Poole, Dorset. It represents the simplest kind of structure, a wattle-and-dau b cottag e (admittedl y of unique form), no doubt once inhabited by a family working on the nearby marshes, either
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