Entrance into Verulamium Museum is free for St Albans residents and we are warmly welcomed. I haven’t been here since my daughter was at junior school and vaguely remember her rummaging around in the dressing up box and modelling a roman soldier costume.
We step through the doorway and into a circular reception area. After walking along a brightly lit corridor we enter the first couple of darkened rooms, and are presented with illuminated cabinets filled with artifacts on life in Verlamion, the pre-Roman Celtic settlement.
We’re then led into Verulamium and life in the Roman Empire. This central atrium is circular and surrounded by archways each leading to a small chamber covering particular themes of daily Roman life.
I enjoy learning about roman recreation such as board games, gambling, feasting and storytelling. The public baths were a place where they’d discuss current affairs. It’s hard to imagine that working nowadays; getting into heated arguments about Brexit while lounging about in the Westminster Lodge swimming pool!
We meander into the area on Merchants and Markets. I admire the neatly displayed hand-minted silver and gold coins depicting Gods, Goddesses and Emperors. My husband tells me that Augustus was the First Emperor and Creator of the Roman Empire, showing off his A Level in Ancient history!
In the diorama of a wealthy citizen’s home, there are cabinets filled with jewellery, cosmetics and unusual objects like ear scoops. Trompe l’oeil painted walls show how these homes were beautifully decorated. I’m drawn to a small bronze statuette of the so-called Verulamium Venus; her proportions are slender and gracious and her gowns are flowing. Some say it’s a figurine of Persephone holding a pomegranate from the underworld. Shrines of Gods and Goddesses were a common feature in most households, and daily offerings of food and wine would be placed before them on altars.
This leads us back to the centre where a group of school children are listening to a guide standing before some stunning mosaics (still intact, although discoloured with age) and explaining how 49 mosaics were discovered and the significance of their designs. My favourite, dating back to AD145 – 150, depicts Dolphins and Lions. It’s so beautiful. Dolphins were considered to be good luck and were apparently the only animals that knew how to find the “blessed isles of the afterlife”.
I have a wander around the attractive shop on my way out. I’ve enjoyed my visit and as I walk away I think about how amazing it is to be standing on the site of one of the largest roman settlements in Britain.
http://marisalaycock.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/imgID125225498.jpg.gallery.jpg1681200misarocks31http://marisalaycock.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/MSLlogoWb-300x69.pngmisarocks312017-06-28 00:00:292018-07-05 21:04:54Life in a Roman city