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Nostalgia: Items of everyday life reveal Roman Havering

14:50 04 April 2013

Peter Stewart, Director of Romford Museum Collection, stands in front of a cabinet containing roman Artifacts such as a hand axe, Mortarium and bowls. The artifacts were found in Rainham. PICTURE: Rosalind Butt

Peter Stewart, Director of Romford Museum Collection, stands in front of a cabinet containing roman Artifacts such as a hand axe, Mortarium and bowls. The artifacts were found in Rainham. PICTURE: Rosalind Butt

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The exhibition Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum is on at the British Museum until September 29.

The towns were destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD and the exhibition examines daily life in the Roman settlements.

The Roman conquest of Britain did not begin until 43AD.

Evidence of Roman life here can be seen at Havering Museum in Romford High Street.

Fragments from what was probably a Roman villa, a hypocaust (underfloor heating) and roof tiles, found in Collier Row, can be seen at the museum, as can material from a Roman burial in Rainham.

Archaeological evidence suggests that there were villas and farms around Upminster, North Ockendon, South Hornchurch and Marks Gate.

A concentration of finds of Roman material around the Roman road between London and Colchester, now the A12, and in the Dorset Avenue area in Romford, has led some scholars to suggest that the higher land between the River Rom and Black’s Brook, now running through Lodge Farm Park, was the site of the Roman staging post Durolitum, which is referred to in a document from the third century AD.

Probably meaning a fortified settlement on a river, the settlement would have been a place where dispatch riders and senior officials of the Empire stayed overnight, changed horses and ate while travelling between the two major Roman centres of London and Colchester.

Evidence of luxury goods and daily life have also been found here.

A fourth century AD gold Roman ring, known as the Havering Ring, now in the British Museum, was found near Havering-atte-Bower.

With an inset showing the mythological classical hero Bellerophon on the winged horse Pegasus fighting the monster known as the Chimaera the item may be related to the rise of Christianity.

Elsewhere in Roman Britain, the scene was linked to the Christian fight for good over evil – as St George was later.

Roman finds near Upminster include carrots, coriander, celery seeds and honey bees, all of which were widely used in Roman cooking and brought to Britain by them.

Fragments of pottery found at Marks Gate show an erotic scene, echoing some of the sculpture found in Pompeii and Herculaneum, while fragments of a mosaic pavement found in Romford are a tantalising glimpse that the area may have had the sort of mosaic decorations now only remaining at sites such as Fishbourne and Lullingstone.

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