The eighteenth-century antiquary who was fooled by a historical hoax so compelling that it took a century to unmask; the nineteenth-century septuagenarian who walked the length of Hadrian's Wall, twice, believing he would be the last to undertake a journey so evidently quixotic; the modern papyrologists who, with all the skill of wartime code breakers, decipher the fragmentary scrawls of surviving writing by the Romans in Britain: it is the rich and evocative stories of these people, and many others, that are told in Under Another Sky.
This is a book about the encounter with Roman Britain: about what the idea of Roman Britain has meant to those who came after Britain's 400-year stint as province of Rome - from the medieval mythographer-historian Geoffrey of Monmouth to Edward Elgar and W.H. Auden. What does Roman Britain mean to us now? How were its physical remains rediscovered and made sense of? How has it been reimagined, in story and song and verse?
Charlotte Higgins has traced these tales by setting out to discover the remains of Roman Britain for herself, sometimes on foot, sometimes in a splendid, though not particularly reliable, VW camper van. Via accounts of some of Britain's most intriguing, and often unjustly overlooked ancient monuments, Under Another Sky invites us to see the British landscape, and British history, in an entirely fresh way: as indelibly marked by how the Romans first imagined, and wrote, these strange and exotic islands, perched on the edge of the known world, into existence.show more