It’s Started – Roman’s Commence Fort-Building in Our Area!
In January 2015 this magazine carried an Our Heritage article entitled ‘How Roman was our area in ancient times?’ The article made reference to several known Roman finds within the Parish of Hope, in particular a first century piece of Roman pottery which was found on the north-east slope of Caergwrle Castle. We know that the Romans were here. We know that they will have been familiar with this area from the evidence found at Ffrith. It is at least feasible that they may have established a marching fort along the way.
What we do know is that modern-day Romans have now started to build the gateway of such a fort at Park in the Past, the site of the former quarry at Fagl Lane in Hope. The project has overcome an immense number of hurdles to arrive at this stage and credit must go to the vision and tenacity of Paul Harston in this achievement.
This summer did witness Romans descending on the area in order to commence the build. They were greatly assisted by Norton Timber who provided massive oak beams and erected the initial structure of the gateway. Meanwhile Chester Zoo have taken away some of the encroaching vegetation to feed rhinos, giraffes and elephants.
Unfortunately poor weather conditions (ironically given the dryness of the summer!) meant that only two of three bank holiday weekend days could be devoted to fort building. Nevertheless Roman re-enactors brought the site to life and demonstrated the process of fort building using, wherever possible, tradition tools. Additional weekend treats included Romans on horseback and the construction of a Roman quay with boats on the bank of the lake.
There were also a whole variety of additional attractions which added to the festival nature of the occasion. Massive thanks go to all who helped with the organisation of this weekend and to the volunteers who helped to make it happen.
It was clear to observers that this was extremely hard work and that the original Romans merited the greatest of respect for their achievement. Commenting on the weekend Paul Harston said that those involved learned a great deal about the methods used in rampart construction and the organisational skills of the Romans. Apparently more work will continue as more oak beams arrive. The initial aim is to construct a rampart for a length of 60 metres and to invite schools to have a chance of spending a day in a Roman camp.
It seems that the project has actually helped to generate an element of respect within the community: Paul expressed thanks to local youths who cleared up litter and left the area in pristine condition.
Many readers will agree that it is tremendous to see this Project developing within the community: It has the potential to become a world class amenity which is great news for the area.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the policy of Flintshire County Council. Readers are welcome to contact the author with any news or views on the local heritage at DHealey204@aol.com or by telephoning 01978 761 523.