This year marks the 1600th anniversary of the end of the Roman empire. To mark the occasion, next month’s edition of BBC History Magazine will investigate the reasons behind the empire's collapse and its legacy in Britain. Until then, we've come up with a few suggestions to get you in the mood.
If you’re keen to fine-tune your Roman knowledge, a wide-ranging study of their customs, beliefs and society can be found on the BBC History site. Or, for a more general overview of the Imperial decline, take a look at the timeline here.
After a more detailed account? There is a wealth of debate amongst historians surrounding the end of the Roman empire. If you fancy dipping into the world of scholarly thought, the straightforward introduction to academic discussions found here is a good place to start. Or to really get involved, why not attend one of the many Roman conferences to be held around the country in 2010? A few suggestions can be found here.
Taking pride of place on the school curriculum, the Roman empire is a topic met with great enthusiasm by children and can make a great family day out. We aren’t the only ones keen to mark this year’s anniversary – a variety of family events are scheduled up and down the country.
Lively open air festivals are set to take place in Old Sarum (9th-20th June), St Albans (11th-27th June) and Maryport (22nd-25th July). Feauring Roman re-enactments, crafts and children’s activities, they promise an educational and enjoyable trip for the whole family. Full listings can be found on the 410AD committee’s festival pages or the English Heritage site. A lively online learning environment to inspire children can be found here on the BBC website.
For the older visitor, the British Museum’s Classical department holds one of the most extensive collections of Roman antiquities in the world, boasting over 100,000 objects. A special conference, ‘Debating the End’, is scheduled to take place on the 13th-14th March, a full programme of which can be dowloaded here. The museum is open every day and entry is free to all. Further information can be found on the British Museum website.
Special mention must be given to one of Britain’s most famous Roman attractions. A trip to the Roman Baths now includes audio guides, costumed characters and computerised displays. Open daily and offering family discounts, visitor information is offered on the Roman Baths website.
If you would like to see history in action, there are several ongoing excavations around the country well worth a visit. There’s even a chance to make your own discovery: the Portable Antiquities Scheme has labelled September ‘Roman Month’ for all detectorists to bring forward their Roman or Anglo-Saxon finds. For more information on excavation opportunities, click here.
Or just fancy a night in? Not an excuse to miss out on the Roman activities. The History channel will be running a ‘410 Week’ from the 19th-25th July, featuring programmes on the life and times of Roman and Anglo-Saxon Britain.