Walk like a roman
When the legions of Rome arrived on British soil, they redefined this country’s concept of walking. Follow in their footsteps and you’ll find out how…
When the Romans arrived they redefined the concept of walking for Britons. Find out why.
ONE PLEASANT AFTERNOON on the Kent coast in 43AD, everything changed.
The Roman Empire arrived. And this time – unlike their previous brief forays onto our turf – they came mob-handed. And they stayed.
In all honesty, there are a lot of unknowns about the actual details of the day. We don’t know it was an afternoon, or that it was pleasant, or exactly what day it was, or where they arrived (though Richborough is the most popular guess). But whatever the minutiae, this was the day the armies of Rome arrived to take control of Britannia. If you were standing on that shoreline that day, watching the Imperial Navy looming large on your horizon, you’d have had just one thought. There goes the neighbourhood. From that day, the Romans occupied our soil for almost 400 years. We’ll say that again, in words: four hundred years. Entire generations were born, lived and died in Roman Britain, with no knowledge of any other way of life.
At this point we could list everything the Romans gave us in those shocking, brutal, incredible four centuries of occupation ( you know; roads, sanitation, medicine, education…) but Monty Python covered that ground beautifully in Life of Brian.
Instead, we’ll focus on one particular thing they gave us: a new definition of walking.
The empire perfected the art of getting from A to B on foot, quickly. They tamed our wild places, carved new paths through our hill country, and invented the hiking boot. They even gave us (in a roundabout way) the mile, and thus gave birth to a challenge that defines Country Walking to this day.
And when it finally all turned sour and the empire crumbled into dust, they left us with a cultural and physical imprint that has never left the fabric of our countryside. Admittedly, we didn’t treat that imprint particularly well in the immediate aftermath, but eventually we realised it was interesting. Important. Preservable. And that it made for fantastic walking.
So grab your feathered helmet, your shield and your big stick with SPQR on it and come with us to the places they gave us and the world they left us with. The roads, the forts, the temples, the villas. The pleasures and the punishments. The discipline and the decadence.
We’ll start by walking a Roman wall that tells you the whole story of that extraordinary occupation. And it probably isn’t the one you’re thinking of…
MOUNTAIN STRONGHOLD Discover a Roman outpost on the wildest fringe of the Lake District.
Senatus Populusque Romanus: the Senate and People of Rome FINAL FRONTIER The world’s biggest Roman artefact. But it’s far from the only amazing wall they built here. THE POWER AND THE PLEASURE Top: Will Medusa turn you to stone? Find out at a Roman pleasure palace in Sussex. Above: Study the wall-builders’ prowess in Rome’s Northern Powerhouse.