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Silchester

Roman Bignor

English History

England is a land of myths, magic and mystery. Many places hold the latent promise of ghosts and there are many stories told of grey ladies, headless horsemen, black dogs and strange fairy lights. In our modern sceptical age it is harder to believe in these legends but at one time they must have struck terror into the hearts of lonely travellers. Nonetheless, there are many places that still have a sense of enchantment about them. If you walk quietly in these places it is possible to feel the sudden chill that may be a passing ghost, or to feel the sadness of a condemned man where he was hung a hundred years or more ago.

On the pages that follow I will describe some of the mysterious and haunting places I have visited. I must add that I am not an intentional searcher of ghosts but I am interested in history and legends and at times there is a sense of the past crossing with the present in a strange kind of "deja vu".

One of the best preserved ancient monuments in England, and the world, is the still standing wall of Calleva Atrebatum. The Romans had their capital here 1900 years ago and this city was a thriving hub with roads leading to other cities such as Londinium and Noviomagus (Present day Chichester, which still has the remains of its own Roman wall). Calleva Atrebatum was a great city and the walls cover about a mile and a half and are magnificently preserved.

The nearby amphitheatre must have been the scene of some appalling cruelty and it is indeed a haunted and haunting place. When you stand in the holding pens at the side and look across, it is possible to imagine you can see the other gladiator you must face looking back at you. It is also easy to hear once again the roar of the crowds and the screams of the wounded and dying. Interestingly, this tangible presence of past pain and fear still exists 1500 years after Calleva was abandoned by the Romans. There is now no town there at all. Just empty fields, singing skylarks, wild deer and of course the ghosts…..

 
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