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Spalding pupils enter the Roman world

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The children of the Spaldingas tribe are exceedingly lucky, though they may not know it.

The young tribe members who go to Spalding Grammar School and Spalding High School learn Latin.

Nationally, the county is in a rare position: very few state schools teach the language.

Before the clamour of protest about dead language begins, there are a number of sound reasons why young people should learn Latin.

Katy Adams, head of classics at the grammar school, says: “There is a lot of high level analysis involved with Latin. The language is almost mathematical.

“It’s really nice that Year 7s come in and the vast majority have never done anything like it before, and they just get so into the culture. We try to teach them the links between English and Latin and they start seeing links with other modern languages as well.”

Former Spalding Grammar School pupil Lee Rotherham says he wouldn’t have gone on to study Latin and French at university if he hadn’t learned both Latin and Greek at school – and had an “inspirational” teacher in Joe Millington, who has recently retired.

Lee, a political researcher and advisor for MP John Hayes, has previously written a couple of books, The Bumper Book of Government Waste, which he co-authored, and The EU in a Nutshell.

However, he turned to his old teacher Joe for help with some aspects of his latest book, The Discerning Barbarian’s Guidebook to Roman Britain.

“My Latin and Greek is rusty these days,” admits Lee. “I contacted my former Latin teacher who helped me out with the section on Emergency Latin, and a colleague of his helped with the Escape Greek.

“I was very much aware of Joe’s part in getting me on this path.

“The late Peter Connolly was another important early inspiration from the county.”

As the title suggests, the book is a light-hearted look at the best of what Roman Britain has to offer.

It’s written as a travel guide, highlighting many of English Heritage’s sites that so cleverly turn a muddy field and a few visible remains into what was once there – a Roman villa or bridge, say – with the aid of information panels.

It also contains “Emergency Latin” for travellers, with phrases such as “Excuse me. Where can I park my chariot?” and “Do you have change for a denarius?” translated by “Josephus the rhetor of the children of the Spaldingas tribe”.

As well as explaining what would have been seen on the ground, Lee talks about the morals and customs of the day. So, for instance, how to behave and what people might expect to eat at a Roman dinner party.

The book is available from bookshops at £9.99. ISBN: 978-1-909698-07-9

 

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