Letocetum (Wall, Nr Lichfield, Staffs) is run predominantly by the National Trust, with a bathhouse under separate guardianship of English Heritage. Near to the junction of Ryknild/Icknield Street and Watling Street, it is not far from the discovered location of the Staffordshire Hoard (now in the combined care of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Stoke-On-Trent). This Roman staging post was built in the 1st Century over an earlier Brythonic settlement known as ‘Letoceton’ (leto – grey, ceton – wooded area). Initially inhabited by the 14th Legion until 130AD, the town was afterwards run by the civitas of Cornovii from their capital in Viroconium (Wroxeter). The bathhouse served travellers, while the wattle and daub mansion provided lodging for official couriers to the Roman Empire. There was possibly an amphitheatre, basilica and a temple to Minerva, Goddess of wisdom and sponsor of arts, trade and defence.
I have been asked to give a talk on Sunday 4th August 2013, discussing research for my Saxon trilogy the ‘Wolf Spear Sagas’, in which my protagonists traverse the Fosse Way/Watling Street. I shall also be reading a short extract from the first book in the Saga, ‘Ulfsuna’. I am a little excited to say the least. I am also petrified. For the last couple of weeks I have been attempting to set aside this potent potion of chemicals and endorphins in order to write my piece. I am unaccustomed to talking about my writing. Until now it has been a secret known only to me and my editor and the odd extracts I have read at my writing group, or the few chapters shared with Beta readers. It has been shrouded in mystery. It was then I realised what my talk should be about. It is the seed that set my mind in motion to write the trilogy in the first place; my local history, also shrouded in mystery, hidden by the vastness of the past. I began the Wolf Spear Sagas to share my love of the past and my love of telling stories. And so my piece is written. The delivery is in the hands of the British weather and the Gods. Perhaps Minerva will aid me?
If you love history/writing/Romans/Saxons please come along on Sunday to see this remarkable place and share in our love and knowledge. Letocetum are promoting this beautiful site and celebrating its proximity to the Staffordshire Hoard find further down Watling Street. Replica artefacts from the Staffordshire Hoard, on loan from Ganderwick Creations, will be on display, presented by Andrew Pilkington in full Saxon regalia, aka 'Wulfgar of Mercia'. Other events are metal detecting, drills/talk by Letocetum's resident Centurion, Roman beauty products, guided walks and refreshments courtesy of the Women's Institute. I look forward to seeing you there!