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A Roman Field in Warwickshire

Felix Dennis
January 23, 2003
Mandalay, Mustique
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Oh. aye, there’s half o’ Rome beneath our feet,
Mosaics, cisterns, coffins made of lead —
We’re near enough, d’y’see, to Wattlin’ Street,
And that’s a Roman bridge at Fordinghead.

This slopin’ site’s too high for flood to silt,
But close enough to fill their baths and tanks;
They knew what they was doin’ when they built
Their villas overlookin’ Avon’s banks.

See, here’s a bunch of coins what Jemmy found
Some few years back while ploughin’ over stones.
But now, I’m plantin’ oaks across this ground.
We don’t hold here with rootin’ out men’s bones.

I told those clever dicks from some museum
To sling their hook— right greedy little sods.
If Roman bones lie here — they’ll never see ’em!
A man’s the right to rest beside his gods.

When they found the coins, the lead coffin and the Roman brooch (now in a local museum) in one of my fields overlooking the Avon I realised I had a choice to make. Didn’t take me long to make it. The sum of human happiness would hardly be increased by rooting out dead Romans. So we lightly ploughed up the farmland and planted a few thousand trees there, leaving open meadow where we thought the buildings (villas? stables? legion outposts?) might have been located. Local historians can curse, but it’s mostly the thrill of the chase that drives them— and certainly that drives the hordes of metal-detecting anoraks. Anyone who has visited the storerooms of museums knows that they already have ten times more stuff there than they can display. So, Marcellus, or whatever your name was, you can sleep on a few hundred more years undisturbed.