I may be biased, but…

…Piddington Museum really is fab. Just back from a delightful evening chatting with a small group whilst surrounded by wonderful displays of finds from the dig in the village. As ever, I’m grateful to everyone who was kind enough to turn up and to Caroline, Liz and Roy for organising the event, plus catering that included real cakes.

There’s very little about the museum on the net and I was so busy gassing and admiring their new set of loan boxes for schools (very cheap to hire and full of fascinating things, including a set of replica Roman armour to fit a 9-year-old) that I forgot to take any photos. So you’ll just have to take my word for it – sorry.

If you’re around the Northampton (UK) area on a Sunday afternoon, the Museum is currently open 2-5 pm and this is where to find it.

Dunroamin (almost)

Just one last event tonight at Piddington Museum, and then The Library Tour is over – and I never did get the teeshirt. (Yes I know tonight is in a museum, but it’s being organised by the Library.)

St Albans and Peterborough were both great once I’d got there – turns out that even with a satnav, I can’t navigate and drive at the same time. I’m grateful to everybody who kindly turned up and listened to me waffling on, and to the nice people who did all the organising.

Special thanks to the staff from the Verulamium Museum who brought a box of delights for us all to play with at St Albans library. I’d never seen a Roman makeup grinder before, and apologies to you, dearest reader, because you can’t really see it either in this photo. It’s at the top right – the two little boat-shaped pieces of bronze between the silver mirror and the quern stone (round stone with the hole, used for grinding corn). Imagine having to grind your makeup before putting it on in the mornings. No wonder they needed slaves.

The little bottle, incidentally, is for holding the tears of mourners and would be placed in a grave. I need to find out when they were used because it’s so lovely that it really ought to go in a novel somewhere.

Items from Verulamium Museum

So where is Coria, then?

A reader who’s met Ruso via audio books got in touch the other day with a good point – if you don’t have a printed copy, you can’t see the map. This is no problem with the first book since it doesn’t have a map anyway – find Chester in north-west England and that’s Deva. In fact if you zoom in on the street plan of the modern city centre, you can still see the layout of the main streets in the Roman fort (they cross where Watergate Street now meets the top of Bridge Street).

Ruso and the Demented Doctor/Terra Incognita DOES have a map. I don’t have a final version to post on the site and don’t know whether I’d be able to anyway (copyright, etc). However…for anyone who’s wondering where the locations are, the Book II page now has a picture of what the longsuffering publishers received and had to untangle in order to produce the proper map. I hope it makes some sort of sense, and thanks to Laurie for pointing this out.

Leighton Buzzard library…

…is fab, newly refurbished and last night played generous host to what I hope was a fun evening looking at the Britons, the Romans and the gaps in between. Thanks to everyone who turned up. As usual Dug, who has heard most of it before, left me to do all the talking while he stared at everyone and looked glum. Clearly he and I are going to have to have words about this.

Dug and his brothers can now be seen on Martin Weaver’s website*. (Dug’s the morose one on the left of the middle row.) Martin will be running two more facial reconstruction courses. No doubt these will be oversubscribed, so if you’re interested, get in quick!

Final reminder for the ‘Win a day on a dig’ competition – Tiscali’s closes shortly, and Penguin’s will close at the end of April. I’m looking forward to finding out who’ll be joining us for a day getting dirty on a Roman villa site.

*Later – not any more, sadly.


We have the programme for Crimefest! Check out their website for the huge list of perpetrators and participators who will be lurking around Bristol between 5 and 8 June.

I’ll be part of a panel on Saturday afternoon, discussing ‘The Mystery in History’ with Roger Hudson, Bernard Knight and Roz Southey, hopefully under the guidance of Bill Gottfried. Being in the Saturday afternoon slot is very good news for a novice like me. It’ll give me two days to enjoy listening to other panellists and perhaps garner some clues about how it’s done…

Spot the Difference

It was great to meet lots of people at Thames Ditton last night. Thanks to everyone who turned up – I hope you enjoyed the evening. Thank you also Marion, Liz and the rest of the Library staff for doing all the planning that made everything go so smoothly.

There’s a photo on the gallery page of me standing next to the publicity card – I guess in boring moments people were able to play Spot the Difference between Author Done Up For Professional Photograph and Author In The Flesh (minus hairspray, lipstick and soft focus). This is another good reason for taking Dug, who looks even scarier than I do.

Excellent news on the St Albans library visit – the folk from the Verulamium museum will be joining us, bringing all sorts of fascinating things Roman for everyone to look at and play with. Details are on the Diary page.

Wolverton Library

Huge thanks to everyone who turned up tonight to help celebrate Wolverton Library’s second birthday in its new home. Dug and I had a fun evening and thanks to all the Library staff for all the organising, publicising, feeding and watering.

What a great thing a blog is: you can add in the stuff you forgot to say earlier.  I should have mentioned that Martin, who ran the class where Dug was created, has the reconstruction of a Saxon girl on display at Piddington Museum, near Northampton. It’s a great place to visit on a Sunday afternoon, especially for children studying ‘the Romans’ at school. Big enough to hold some good stuff, small enough not to be boring and only a short drive from fab walks in Salcey Forest.