On 28 January 2019 the Classics Department led a trip to Verulamium in St Albans with half of Year 7. The morning was spent in Verulamium Museum looking at ancient artefacts and getting guided tours around the site of ancient Verulamium led by two park rangers. In the afternoon we went to visit St Albans Abbey. As Bernard, one of the guides, aptly explained. ‘Anyone who thinks recycling is new is mistaken. It has been around for two thousand years at least. Right, who wants to look at the ancient city of Verulamium? You have your back to it right now. Turn around. See the Abbey? That’s the ancient city recycled.’ And he was right. In the Middle Ages, when the Abbey Church was build to commemorate the martyrdom of St Alban, a Roman soldier who gave sanctuary to a Christian priest during the great persecutions of Emperor Diocletian, the best source of brick was the remnants of the Roman town. This was pillaged and transported. Not very conservationist, you might think, but very efficient nevertheless!
Verulamium was the last town which the rebel queen Boudicca sacked on her way westward to meet the armies of Suetonius Paulinus, the Roman governor of Britain at the time, by whose legions she and the rest of the rebel force were eventually defeated. If you want to pitch a tent anywhere in the parkland, you need permission from English Heritage, as you only have to dig a few centimetres beneath the surface of the park to hit the buried town of Verulamium. This was one of the first national heritage sites in Britain, and thanks to the efforts of archaeologists in the 1930s it has survived as an area for study and research. Otherwise, it would have been built on or turned into a shopping centre. You can still see remnants of the entrance gate to the ancient town, as well as the hypocaust which fired the houses of the rich and famous with the next best thing the Romans had to central heating. Our boys were splendidly engaged and asked some excellent and searching questions from the guides. Bernard our guide, a proud Liverpudlian who has no time for Chelsea supporters, had this to say of our boys: ‘We loved doing it! The boys were such a rewarding audience that the day was bound to be a success.’ That speaks volumes for how Haberdashers’ boys are perceived: bright, curious, keen, challenging (in the right sort of way!), and always ready to think one step ahead of the game.
Attached, you can find photographs of out trip, including one of the party next to one of the surviving walls to the south-east of the ancient town of Verulamium.
This was a delightful trip, many thanks to all staff involved for their kind and dedicated support: Dr Joyce, Mrs Pfeffer, Mr Handley, Mr Carrera Morales, Mr McLarin, Ms Caterer, Dr Gannarelli, Mr Whalley, and Mr Rylands. Gratias vobis agimus pro omnibus!