The Places in the Novels
The Places in the Novels
Ad Trivonam was first postulated by a local historian and friend of mine, Dennis Bladon in 1994, as being Branston, Burton upon Trent. Four years later his theory was further substantiated, when archaeologists surveying the site of a proposed housing development near Measham, found evidence of a Roman road heading in the direction of Burton. This road was thought to be a road leading north from Leicester which would have crossed the River Trent near Branston. This road would have intersected the Roman road known as Icknield Street (the modern A38).
This is where it gets complicated as there is another Roman road, known as Ryknield Street which ran from Chester via Uttoxeter and Burton to Derby. The Victorian antiquarians called this the Via Devina.
All three of these roads could have crossed each other at Burton and if so, there is every likelihood that a settlement would have grown up there. For the purposes of my novels it did happen and is called Ad Trivonam
The Lookout Fort on the Dufan
Tutbury, near Burton upon Trent has a castle dating back to at least Norman times which is built within the site of a Iron age Hill fort. Some years ago when the well of the fort was being cleaned out, among the things found in it were fragments of Roman pottery (Samian ware) and some tweezers identified at the time as Roman. I visited the castle around this time and was told that two stone heads which were on display in the then tea shop, had been found in the River Dove (Dufan), which runs in the valley below the Castle. I have recently learned from the present curator however, that the heads were in fact found in the castle's moat.The heads though well worn, have quite distinctive features and I was allowed to photograph them ( see my photos below). The first photo on the left clearly appears to be of a horned god, possibly Cernunnos, whilst the other stone head could be a fertility goddess or even the mother goddess herself.
Nearby to the castle site is St Mary's Church, which dates from around 1160-70. It is thought that there may have been a Saxon church on the site prior to the Norman church. One can speculate that the stone heads could have come from a Celtic or Romano-British temple nearby to the later Christian churches. Quite often Christians reused earlier pagan sites and who knows, there may even be the remains of one under St Mary's Church. For the purposes of the Flavius Vitulasius novels, there is a temple and the Lookout Fort on the Dufan is where the Cornovian Regiment, the Cohors 1 Cornoviorum trains and in later books of the series maintains a garrison.
It is known lead mining took place in Roman times in Derbyshire, but the siting of Lutudarum has been the subject of much speculation over the years. Harry C.Monet-Lane's 1986 book 'The Romans in Derbyshire' gives several sites the author felt Lutudarum could have been situated. I chose the site of Great Wilne, Shardlow, Derbyshire, one he mentions, as the site for Lutudarum. Great Wilne lies near the confluence of the Rivers Trent & Derwent. River transport would probably have been used for the movement of the pigs of lead and indeed Roman pigs of lead were found at Brough on Humber. This would suggest the use of the Trent as a means of transport. Great Wilne was also not far from the fort at Derventio and the roman roads in the area. In the novels it is not far from Flavius' home at Ad Trivonam.
I first saw Iceanum given as the name for Great Chesterford in a history of Ickleton, Cambridgeshire. The Honourable Richard Cornwallis Neville in 1847, had been excavating the site of Iceanum, but turned his attention on to a field known as Church Platt. his excavations there discovered the remains of an extensive villa and a short way from it a temple. In 'Divided Empire' the villa becomes the villa of Marcus Genialis and the temple, well, you'll have to read the novel to find out what happens there. In 'Divided Empire' I used some of the items that had been found in the excavations of Iceanum. The cropping shears used by the man at the fuller's workshop for example. Marcus Genialis' villa is based on the villa found at Ickleton and the temple that Marcus is found murdered in also existed not far from the villa.