When travellers from afar came to ancient Nottinghamshire…

Honorius

...and his brother Arcadius

It’s been a while since the last posting but this has largely been due to work, which has included a new career teaching Roman Nottinghamshire as a subject to adult education classes with the WEA. Two courses have just finished in Nottingham and Burton Joyce and two more begin in Lowdham and Radcliffe-on-Trent later in April 2012. At least two more are booked for the autumn and one more is being organised for spring 2013. If you are interested in booking a place on one of these courses then please contact the WEA. However, what prompts this new posting is the recent conference held by the Nottinghamshire Local History Association at Ravenshead, which featured three talks on Roman issues. They were all interesting but one fact that really caught my imagination – and almost went by unnoticed – emerged in the talk about the archaeology that has been found under and alongside the A46 Fosse Way. Louise Robinson, an archaeology consultant, took the audience through the finds along the road from Widmerpool to Farndon on a find-by-find basis. Here is a stretch of 28km which has yielded evidence of everything from Bronze Age burial mounds to Iron Age settlements to Roman infant burials at Margidunum, near East Bridgford. And it was at Margidunum that Robinson said a coin of Arcadius has been found. Arcadius? Arcadius was  brother to Honorius at a time when the Roman Empire had been formally split into two; Honorius ruled the Western half, Arcadius ruled the Eastern half from Constantinople. And it was Honorius who formally disconnected Britain from the Empire in 410AD when he told the Britons that they could no longer expect military assistance from Rome and that they were on their own. Since Arcadius died in 408,  the coin means that Margidunum was occupied almost up to the very end of the Roman occupation of Britain. But one could understand finding a coin minted by the Western Emperor in Nottinghamshire. How would a coin by Arcadius, who ruled from a throne on the tip of ancient Anatolia, have found its way here? We will never know but its discovery underlines once again how this humble corner of the province of Britannia was once connected to the further reaches of the great Roman Empire. Another welcome piece of news from the NLHA conference was that all of the discoveries along the A46 are due to be published in a report at the beginning of 2013.

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