Blogger explores Roman settlement Calleva Atrebatum featured in Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth

Three years ago Rosemary Sutcliff’s classic historical novel The Eagle of the Ninth inspired one blogger to go exploring!

The Roman History Reading Group’s first read for 2010 is Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth, part of which is set in Calleva Atrebatum. As it’s quite near where my parents live, I set out one cold and frosty morning to have a look at what remains of Calleva Atrebatum today. The remains are near the village of Silchester, not far from Reading.

Calleva Atrebatum means something like “the Atrebates’ town in the woods” (not that different from Silchester!). The Atrebates were a Celtic tribe living in this area, with links to a tribe of the same name living in Gaul. Although the town itself has disappeared, its walls are still standing. It took me about 2 hours to walk the circuit of 2.8 km, but that was with lots of stops for photographs. The shape is roughly speaking a diamond with the top point at the North.

North east wall

Find the whole article and all the photographs on his blog here.

5 thoughts on “Blogger explores Roman settlement Calleva Atrebatum featured in Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth

  1. There’s an interesting piece at the University of Reading website about the Silchester eagle, explaining the differences between the interpretations made by its 19th century discoverer, Reverend Joyce, which inspired “The Eagle of the Ninth” and “The Silver Branch”, and those which modern archaeologists now consider to be more likely. (Doesn’t take away from the power of Rosemary Sutcliff’s work, of course!)


  2. I often use Google Earth to explore the site which was described in Sutcliff’s novels and it’s really fan. Calleva is the place easily I found out and enjoyed to look around by street view. But I couldn’t notice that there are interesting explanation boards standing around the wall because of low resolution of GE. Your interesting photos are very helpful to know details of real situation for readers living in remote places like Japan.


  3. I love Silchester. A couple of years ago we went on a beautiful sunny spring Sunday morning; the bluebells were out and there was hardly anyone else there. Topped off with lunch at the pub, who could ask for more!


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