When Himself first mentioned where we now live as a possible location, I wasn’t overly keen, for all I knew was its fame as an area of mass housing development. It wasn’t till I came to view our apartment, that I discovered all those new houses were built around an existing village with its own history.
This area was one of the first parts of the country to be ‘Romanised’. Built alongside a historic Roman road which linked Chichester (on the south coast) with London, although there is no evidence that this village existed in Roman times, evidence of a Roman settlement has been uncovered some 5 miles hence, during excavations in the 1920s, 1980s and, most recently, in 2005.
You can barely go out for a drive to the coast without passing a brown sign (indicating a site of historical significance) pointing to this or that once-was Roman house, fort or settlement. Not much survives apart from a few stone walls and some mosaics, but it’s left me itching to know more. My knowledge of Roman history is pretty rudimentary, for my early school years were spent in India where Roman Britain wasn’t exactly high on the agenda.
Just across the road from those aforementioned excavations of what was a mansio (a sort of inn crossed with a roadside service area) is a hillside covered in vines. English wine is now a burgeoning business, with a growing reputation for its sparkling wine in particular. Our county of Sussex has 19 vineyards listed, a few of which already have excellent reputations.
Himself (bringing his Geography degree to welcome practical use 😉 ) explained this is due to the fact that this area shares the same terroir as the Champagne region of France. Me being me, I had to speculate whether vines were also located on that self-same hillside in Roman times, to provide for thirsty travellers and Roman legions. These most local vines have no signage yet – but as it takes a minimum of 5 years for a vineyard to establish, we may still have a year or two before they set out their stall.
The only fiction I’ve read on the subject was Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth. That was so long ago, I can’t honestly claim to remember much at all. I shall clearly have to re-visit it, but any other reading recommendations would be welcome (Alan, I’m most especially hopeful of you 🙂 ). As for the sparkling wine, I plan to do rather more practical research of the imbibing kind 😉
What’s your local area known for? And in a slight twist, do you like your reading to have a historical or contemporary setting?