There the road ended.

I had the idea that I was going to write about What I Did On My Holidays in the company of excellent people in Newcastle and Glasgow.

But I dug a hole under a flowerbed and buried my cat tonight, so I’m not feeling as cheerful as otherwise I might. Even the contemplation of Saturday afternoon at Barter Books

Barter Books, Alnwick

Barter Books, Alnwick

and Sunday at Housesteads…

Housesteads Roman fort, Hadrian's Wall.

Housesteads Roman fort, Hadrian’s Wall.

in glorious company, of custard and cake in a café with pictures of cows on the wall…

A café in Hexham, after dark.

A café in Hexham, after dark.

… is not able to make me a cheery human tonight. Nor the contemplation of Glasgow and lovely people and a delightful second-hand bookshop (Caledonian Books) where I found copies of Oxford Classical Texts in mint condition really cheap.

I brought things home, and the memory of good company.

Things from Newcastle.

Things from Newcastle.

Things from Glasgow.

Things from Glasgow.

But Vladimir is as cold and stiff and dead as my grandmother, and it makes me gloomy as fuck.

Ancient Roman Infanticide

An interesting look at what bones from the ancient world can tell us.

In the new study, the researchers delved into why these babies were killed. Ancient Roman texts refer to infanticide as an accepted practice, and the only way people could control the size of their families in a time before reliable contraception. (In fact, Rome’s foundation myth involves twin boys, Romulus and Remus, who are left to die by their mother, but are saved by wild animals.)

The texts refer to infanticide in Rome itself, however, which had a different culture than its far-flung territories, such as those in Britain, Mays said.

And although the Roman preference for boys would suggest that Romans practiced sex-selective infanticide, Mays said, there is only one document to back up that assumption — a letter from one Roman soldier stationed in England to his pregnant wife, telling her not to bother keeping the baby if it’s a girl when it’s born.

The Skulls of Londinium

A life of violence, and a violent death?

The Guardian had a piece on thirty-nine (yep, that’s right, 39) skulls uncovered in London during the eighties:

Scores of skulls excavated in the heart of London have provided the first gruesome evidence of Roman head hunters operating in Britain, gathering up the heads of executed enemies or fallen gladiators from the nearby amphitheatre, and exposing them for years in open pits.

“It is not a pretty picture,” Rebecca Redfern, from the centre for human bioarchaeology at the museum of London, said. “At least one of the skulls shows evidence of being chewed at by dogs, so it was still fleshed when it was lying in the open.”

“They come from a peculiar area by the Walbrook stream, which was a site for burials and a centre of ritual activity – but also very much in use for more mundane pursuits. We have evidence of lots of shoe making, so you have to think of the cobbler working yards from these open pits, with the dog chewing away – really not nice.”

Here’s what the Independent had to say.