Sometimes you see something so often that you don’t notice it any more! In my world this mostly applies to drains that go on a list to clear and are only noticed when it has rained and there is a large lake. However it also applies to fields! When looking at a crop of beans by drone the other day to judge how much weed there was, I was reminded of the field’s history and why it’s called ‘The Burial Ground’…
Our village, 35 miles north of London, was the most northerly outpost of the London Garrison of the Roman Army. Being as far from the centre as possible, they used it for their disaffected and troublesome troops and their containment zone for those suffering from disease. These poor souls were often North Africans, brought over here as part of the Romans ‘Divide and Conquer’ regime (whereby those captured were sent to other colonies far removed from their home land).
I often imagine how these foreigners must have felt: removed from their temperate climate to a wet, damp and cold winter here in Britain, hated by both the population and their Roman masters.
This was of course not all. Many of these people had leprosy and were banished to outposts to await death while relying on local charity for food and water (and we complain about the NHS). Their compound was surrounded by a reverse moat (dug to keep people in rather than keep invaders out) and there they spent their days until relieved by death.
Hence The Burial Ground. Many years ago burial pots were ploughed up and sent to a local museum, but the constant reminder is now the moated and wooded area and the named field that tells such a sad tale.
Thankfully we are more welcoming to those from abroad these days, however we should all be reminded that tolerance is of utmost importance in our world today.
© Baldock Bard 2017
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