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UN ANGLAIS À MABILLE .. ..
THE BURIED ROMAN CITY IN BRITAIN.
We had been traversing the London Road, which leads out of Shrewsbury by its eastern suburb, skirting every now and then the silvery Severn, meandering through a park-like country, when my companion turned the horse's head down a bye-road on the right, which speedily led us amid some undulating pastures. “And now,” said he, as the carriage jerked over a ridge in the road; “now-we are in the Roman City."
I looked around me. There were undulating fields and crops of turnips, hedge-rows and trees — an English landscape, pure and simple, such as we meet with everywhere in the luxuriant western counties. “But where have the Romans left their marks?” I asked, half incredulously. My companion pointed with his whip to a dark object a little in advance—a weatherbeaten wall which rose, a massive and significant ruin, in the midst of the pastoral scenery surrounding us. As we drew near, the Cyclopean mass of grey stones, streaked at intervals with bright red lines of tile-work, left no doubt upon our minds. “And if you will observe narrowly,” said my companion, “you will see indications of the line of the walls.” And truly an irregular line, inclosing a somewhat pear-shaped area, could be traced, its long diameter running north and south ; the stem of the pear, if we may so term it, dipping down into the waters of the rapid Severn. This ridge of buried town-wall, my companion tells me, makes a circuit of three miles; and as I traced it round about, I could see underneath the emerald sod suggestive outlines, now dipping under the hedgel'ows, now crossing the brook, and next upheaving the middle of the field. It was clearly the dead and ruined city, dimly sketched beneath its winding-sheet of common grass. In another minute we were close to the old wall itself, which cropped up suddenly from the edge of a turnip field—a huge bone, as it were, of the buried skeleton beneath. To the south of this wall a square area, about two acres in extent, railed off from the adjoining fields, presented itself, trenched in every direction, and heaped with mounds of rubbish. A crowd of visitors were lounging about, looking down into the deep pits and trenches with a serious, puzzled look.*
“ And this ?” said I—
“Is where we are exhuming Roman Britain," interrupted my companion.
* Since the above was written the Excavation Committee have very judiciously caused all the earth excavated from the trenches to be collected into a steep mound, which is to be planted with evergreens and surrounded by gravel walks. From this mound a bird's-eye view will be given to the spectator of the whole ruins laid open. The hypocausts, passages, courts, and roads will be beneath him, plainly depicted as in a map. By this means the interest of these singular remains will be greatly enhanced to the visitor.