Goodbye to Whitehall Roman Villa

A friend’s just sent me the link to this article about the final dig at Whitehall Roman Villa in Northamptonshire. I’ve been privileged to be involved with this project over the years and it will be sad to see the site covered up for the last time at the end of the summer.

I shall particularly miss that puddly drain to the right of the farmer. Some of it was trowelled out by mine own fair hand.  On its left (out of sight) there are some wooden stakes still in the places where the Roman builders hammered them.  This is not the sort of thing that makes headlines – no precious metals, no rewards for farmer and finder,  no calls to save them for the British Museum – but it made me, and several others, inordinately happy.

Postmortem on Bodies

No report on the very enjoyable Bodies in the Bookshop day here, because it’s over at the Mystery People website, complete with photos.

Incidentally, what an august venue the Cambridge Union is! And how glad and guilty I felt to be there, while  only fifty miles away, tougher members of the Historical Writers’ Association were facing the flood water at Kelmarsh.  Such a shame.  I hope this won’t put English Heritage off running the Festival of History again next year, because it’s usually a marvellous weekend.

Hadrian’s Wall on the radio

What a joy it is to listen to people who not only know their subject, but know how to put it across to the rest of us. I’ve just been listening to Greg Woolf, David Breeze and Lindsay Allason-Jones talking to Melvyn Bragg about  Hadrian’s Wall. It was the final edition in this series of ‘In Our Time’ and will be repeated at 9.30 this evening on BBC Radio 4.

It’ll be available as a podcast later and there’s also a useful reading list on the web page for those of us who like to grovel around in the detail.

Reshuffling the Bodies

A few changes to the programme for Bodies in the Bookshop, so here’s the official email, hot off the internet this morning –

Bodies in the Bookshop 2012
Saturday 14th July from 10am
The Cambridge Union Society, 9A Bridge Street Cambridge CB2 1UB (link to:

Join us in the Cambridge Union for our biggest crime fiction event of the year! This year Bodies in the Bookshop is relocating to the Cambridge Union (link to: where we have a fantastic line-up of crime authors who will be taking part in a series of themed talks and panel discussions.

The Union Bar and Cafe will also be open all day for food, drink and socialising and the traditional drinks reception will take place in the bar at 6.30pm.

10am Crime Through Time I
Jane Finnis, Ruth Downie and Patrick Easter take us on a journey through time and space as they talk on historical crime fiction from Ancient Rome to Nineteenth Century England.

11am Experts in Murder
Nicola Upson, Catriona McPherson and Laura Wilson give us a glimpse of a pre-war world of murder and mystery which their canny heroes and sharp heroines set about solving, while Sally Spedding adds a more sinister edge to the historical theme.

12 noon Poison in the Parish
Settle in with Ann Purser, Veronica Heley, Rebecca Tope and Jayne Marie Barker who will be discussing mysteries with a distinctly English and traditional character.

1pm Break for Lunch
Lunch will be available at the Union Cafe
1.30pm Crime Through Time II
Follow Ros Barber and Rory Clements to the criminal depths of Tudor England while Chris Nickson and Robin Blake transport us the 18th century and Peter Moore sheds light on the true crimes which took place in a rural Georgian village.

2.30pm Scene of the Crime
Jim Kelly, Alison Bruce and Elly Griffiths discuss their novels set in Cambridge and the surrounding area, bringing crime a little too close for comfort.

3.30pm International Intrigue
Roger Morris, Edward Wilson and Adrian Magson take us from prerevolutionary Russia to 1960s France via the Cold War. Detectives, spies and mysteries abound.

4.30pm Comic Cuts
Len Tyler and Suzette Hill in discussion on the funny side of crime.
5.30pm Death in a Cold Climate
Leading crime fiction expert Barry Forshaw and Quentin Bates, author of a crime fiction series set in Iceland, explore the growing popularity of Nordic Noir and Scandinavian settings. Listen out for ideas on what to read after Stieg Larsson

6.30pm Drinks reception in the Union Bar

Tickets: Adults £10, Concessions £7

Call 01223 463200 or come to Heffers to buy your ticket.
For more information email or visit the Bodies in the Bookshop facebook page or our blog at

Bodies – Beyond The Bookshop

Bodies in the Bookshop logo

They’ve already demonstrated how a huge number of crime readers and writers can cram themselves into one shop on a summer evening. Now the organisers of the annual ‘Bodies in the Bookshop’ extravangza have decided it’s time for a new challenge.  On Saturday 14 July they’ll be showing us all how to move a whole bookshop – plus all the aforementioned readers and writers – into the Cambridge Union for a day of themed panels and talks, as well as the usual informal free-for-all.

I’m part of the very first panel at ten o’clock, and looking forward to discussing Crime Through Time with Jane Finnis (Roman), Ros Barber (The Marlowe Papers) and Rory Clements (Tudor). After that I’ll be staying on to enjoy the rest of the day – if you’re there, do come and say hello.

Tickets for the whole day are  £10 for adults, £7 for concessions. Drop in to Heffers,  call them on  01223 463200, or email  to reserve a place. The Union is  just around the corner from the shop – directions here.

Full  details are on Shotsmag, and there’s now a blog and a Facebook page too.