The Watchers of the Wall

Wall is one of the most interesting, if unimaginatively named, villages around these parts. Of course, the Romans who built the eponymous walls knew the place as Letocetum, which may sound more exciting but is actually thought to translate as just another description of the surrounding landscape – a romanized version of a Celtic place name meaning ‘grey wood’.


Every year, thousands of visitors come to explore the remains of the bath house and mansio at this former military staging post on Watling Street and discover some of the incredible archaeological finds in the on-site museum. This is only possible thanks to the Friends of Letocetum, a small army of dedicated volunteers who are hoping to swell their ranks for the 2015 season. If you are able to give a couple of hours a month, or even a year, or could help out during the annual open day on Sunday 19th July 2015, please get in touch with them via their Facebook site, email or leave me a message and I’ll pass it on. Gratias!


2 thoughts on “The Watchers of the Wall

  1. I’ve called in here a couple of times when travelling past on the A5. The site has most impressive Roman ruins and a big thank you must go to the Friends of Letocetum for maintaining it in such fine condition.
    This appears to be have been quite an important site in times gone by. The Marwnad Cynddylan (Elegy of Cynddylan) recalls a battle fought here where monks where slaughtered and Moriael took spoils.
    Cynddylan was a 7th century Prince of Powys who was probably among the British nobles who fell with Penda at the Battle of the Winwaed in 655, a crushing defeat of the Mercians at the hands of Oswiu of Northumbria.
    And of course just up the road along the A5 (Watling Street) is where the Staffordshire Hoard was found.


  2. There’s a wonderful, humorous poem by WH Auden, ‘Roman Wall Blues’, which really applies to a soldier up on Hadrian’s Wall, but if you visit the ruins at ‘our’ Wall when it’s wet and blustery, or on a mizzly, drizzly, murky, damp, grey day, it seems just as apt. Whenever I wander round the site I always think of some poor home-sick soldier from a warmer part of the empire posted to England, and struggling to cope with the weather! Here’s the first few lines:
    Over the heather the wet wind blows,
    I’ve lice in my tunic and a cold in my nose.
    The rain comes pattering out of the sky,
    I’m a Wall soldier, I don’t know why.
    The mist creeps over the hard grey stone,
    My girl’s in Tungria; I sleep alone.


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