Monday, September 26, 2005

Romance is in the air!

Over on the Historical Novel Society list at the moment, there's a keen exchange of views about historical romance. Yep, well, it comes up every couple of months (as the actress said to the bishop!) Some innocent person thinks they're safe on the list to make remarks about the historical romance genre. And then they find they've opened a Pandora's Box ... Since I'm familiar with the list, I know exactly who is likely to reply, and what their views are going to be :-)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Roof tile LEGTFM

Roman Army Talk is a great place to hang out if you're interested in Romans, and it gets even better when the talk occasionally turns to tile :-) Recently, Jona Lendering of Amsterdam, had an enquiry about a tile stamp from Rindern, on the German/Dutch border. What followed was a discussion on what the tile actually said:

Roof tile LEGTFM

Jona was kind enough to thank me for my input (so often people don't bother!) and has put the ideas onto the Arenacum/Rindern entry on his interesting website.

Building material - 19th c or Roman?

This enquiry was sent to the Britarch discussion list in September 2005:

A recent excavation has revealed a dump of chalk, flint and building material immediately below the top soil. The CBM when compared to other Roman sites is remarkably similar. There is no other dating material amongst this dump

Can 19th century building material resemble Roman building material in shape and form? e.g are there 19th century variants of imbrex and tegula? Are there any good reference works which may help?

The main things that looks like Roman building material are horseshoe field/land drains. These imbrex shaped suckers have had me on the hop a couple of times (especially small fragments where you can't get a good idea of the shape), but manufacturing methods and a very refined fabric normally give the game away - as would any 19th century copies of Roman roofing. Checking out 19th century trade/business directories may also help with this aspect.

Some useful Publications:

Harvey N, 1987. Fields, hedges and drains Shire Album 21

RCAHMS, 1993. Brick, Tile & Fireclay Industries in Scotland

There's also a super display of field drains at the Yorkshire Museum of Farming at Murton, just outside of York.

There's the outside possibility that it's 12th-13th century curved and flanged roof tile. See:

A G Vince, J E Pearce & K H Armitage 1981, Early medieval roof tiles from London, Antiq J, 61, 359-62

Garside-Neville S, 1995. 'Tile File - Curved and flanged medieval roof tile', Interim: Archaeology in York, Summer 1995, Vol 20, No2, 31-34

Or, in general, contact the Archaeological Ceramic Building Materials Group ( for your friendly local CBM specialist)

Sunday, September 11, 2005

HNS Newsletter

I'm co-editor of the HNS Newsletter, along with Sarah Cuthbertson and Lucienne Boyce. We take turns in being the main editor, swapping round every two months. My stint has now come round again, so I'm on the look-out for events, etc., to put in the Newsletter.

In particular, the current main events in the book world are the announcement of the shortlist for Booker Prize (two historical novels in contention) and the new film of Pride and Prejudice. The film, like Gladiator, may bring a ressurgance in the hf sub-category. Certainly, Gladiator made it a tad easier for Roman set novels to be published, and meant that existing series were more likely to continue. Perhaps Regency novels will become (even more) popular with the new P&P film! Here's hoping :-)

Friday, September 09, 2005

HNS Review

I did rather a lot of book reviews for the HNS last quarter, as evidenced by the arrival of the most recent HNR! When they're finally published, I've taken to adding the reviews to my website, and they can be found here. In her blog, Michelle Styles, one of the co-authors of the Lady Soldier likes the review, which is fortunate, as I did like the book :-)

But for the moment, I have no more books to review (though still have two forthcoming in the next edition of the HNR) and am catching up with other reading. Just got a copy of Margot Fonteyn's biography by Meredith Daneman, which is in stark contrast to Fonteyn's sanitised autobiography.