In her monograph on historical novelist and children’s writer Rosemary Sutcliff, Margaret Meek, commented that “the standard of accredited detail is so high in historical novels, writers have their research material carefully scrutinized by critics”. But, she said, “it is one thing to be accurate about costume and cooking pots, and quite another to make an organic whole in which the accumulated research is assimilated by the reader because of its essential rightness in the situation. Here is Wroxeter when the Romans had left it and later the British warhost had finally been defeated.
‘Owain found himself at the Forum Gate, with its proud inscription to the Emperor Hadrian, and halted there, staring dazedly about him, while Dog stood watching him expectantly and wagging his tail. It was growing dusk, and he thought suddenly—it was a thought that made the sick laughter rise in his throat—that he could sleep in the Basilica tonight, he could sleep in the Palace of Kyndylan the Fair, if he chose, he was free of all Viroconium. But the little low-browed shops in the Forum colonnade seemed to offer a deeper and darker refuge to crawl into. One or two near the gate still had their roofs on them and he turned into the nearest of these. It looked to have been a basket-maker’s shop; everything that could be of use to marauders had been stripped from it, but a broken pigeon basket and a bunch of withies still lay in one corner. The light was going fast, and the back of the shop was already lost in the shadows of the rainy twilight.’
Meek wrote: “Weather and the ruined town all serve to increase Owain’s desolation. The scholarship is transmuted into artistry”.
(Source: “The Historical Novelist: The Light and the Dark.” In Rosemary Sutcliff, pp. 31-50. New York, N.Y.: Henry Z. Walck, Incorporated, 1962.)