Roderick (Roddy) Cavaliero, who has passed away, was Deputy Director General of the British Council, Great Britain’s cultural arm abroad. During his many years as a British Council officer he was Director in India, and for four years in the 1970s, Director in Rome. Roddy was also a historian, writing several books on the knights of Malta and the Ottomans. He had a particular love for the Romantic poets and was an active Board member of Rome’s Keats and Shelley Memorial House.
Rocchetta al Volturno was in the front line in 1943-44, like all the uppermost villages of the Alto Volturno. The natural wall that is the Mainarde mountains was one part of the German defences pivoted on Monte Cassino, running from the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic seas. Seventy-five years have passed since the late autumn of 1943 when Allied troops reached the village. In those days Rocchetta was tightly wound around a ruined castle, overlooking the source of the Volturno and the
Why drive 3 hours from Copenhagen to see a hole in a side-street of medieval Ribe in western Denmark? Passion or sheer folly, my reasoning is simple: the Northern Emporium project led by Søren Sindbæk from Aarhus University is an exceptional glimpse of early Viking levels the like of which are unlikely to be seen again for a generation. Excavations began in Ribe in the 1970s. Mogens Bencard located the emporium founded by the Danish king, Ongendus, not below the medieval and
The last time I was in Ribe in western Denmark there was a magnificent hoar frost. The little North Sea port seemed to be lost to the white mists of a Grimm fairy tale. Founded by the Danish king Ongendus in the early 8th century, it attracted the bold missionary Ansgar, who made a cathedral here. Today this huge high medieval building of Westphalian stone and brick dominates the town. Around Ansgar’s mission grew the medieval town, separated by a river from the early Viking
Fifty years ago, to fund my burgeoning archaeology hobby, I got a real job. It was after the Prague spring as the summer of love took off. Miss Methuen in a big mysterious house on the edge of Ditteridge wanted gardening help. A Dickensian spinster, Miss Methuen was nervous, dressed in voluminous baggy clothes worthy of a plump scarecrow, only given to speaking in monosyllabic phrases. Shy as I was, she was infinitely more timid as though the light terrified her. The kitchen
Cinigiano, as all Tuscany, is lusciously green this year. Visiting the excavations of the Roman villa at Santa Marta a year on, the thick hedgerow country seems almost English. Stefano Campana from Siena University greets me. He is excited by the new oval-shaped entrance yard they have exposed in front of the villa. Plainly a small early Imperial villa was re-envisioned in the fourth century not just with a fine bath-house paved with mosaics (found last year), but also with a
The best discoveries in archaeology stretch your imagination. Most of all they up-end your preconceived notions about the past. Better still if the discoveries are made in blissful places. In the late 80s and early 90s the American archaeologist, David Soren, now at the University of Arizona, partially excavated a small Roman villa, high on a promontory known as Poggio Gramignano overlooking the Tiber valley, near the picturesque Umbrian hilltop village of Lugnano. The Lugnan
Buckland Abbey, a National Trust property in south Devon, nestles in a richly wooded valley that leads by way of inlets to Plymouth. This gloriously civilized place was the improbable home to the buccaneering Sir Francis Drake. Previously a Cistercian Abbey with a huge barn – an index of its assets – Drake spent little time being a country squire. Restless as well as irascible, he sailed the seas – around the world, against the Spanish Armada, and fatally, to the Caribbean,