Just what did the Croatians ever do for us?

Roman settlement at Hardknott Fort, in Cumbria
Roman settlement at Hardknott Fort, in Cumbria

Following on from a recent column about the special relationship between England and Italy – and Claudio Ranieri’s part in this – got me thinking about Roman Britain.

I’m not a historian and I am sure one could give you all the facts far better than I, but it would be a good place to start by saying that many of the ‘Romans’ who came here did not come from Rome, or even Italy.

In fact, many based up in Cumbria were from Croatia, for example.

There is evidence that these souls were far from happy in the chilly Lakes, though surely they too must have admired the beauty of the place.

They had their baths at Hardknott Fort and Ravenglass to console them, though I doubt that ‘thermals’ were in abundance back then for their return form bathing.

The whole idea of the Romans here is one I find quite fascinating and, of course, Lancaster has its own incredible history in this regard.

I remember the excitement, as a schoolgirl, of visiting an excavation site in the city centre.

Admittedly getting out of double chemistry was a big part of the appeal!

I always wondered if there might be a few coins underneath my school but decided probably not as schools can seem quite mundane and not the type of place you would find hidden treasure, but you never know!

Maybe someone will find a ‘Roman bathhouse’ in their garden one day – if it can happen in Gloucestershire, it can happen here.

One of the most fascinating things I’ve heard in recent years is the story of the ghostly Roman legion up on High Street, which is a whaleback plateau up in Cumbria and not to be confused with our city street.

It’s said that back in the 1950s that a walker on High Street saw the ghostly Romans in all of their regalia, marching in perfect synchronicity to the astonishment of the walker.

The most eerie thing about this story, however, is that the very last Roman apparently ‘turned’ to look the walker in the eyes.

Others have experienced this phenomenon too and dogs dislike the place and always react. I believe someone has even written a book about the ghostly experience.

How creepy!