Monday, 2 February 2009
It was during Britain's Roman centuries that cabbages, peas, parsnips and turnips came to be cultivated in the British Isles. The Romans brought north bulkier, more meat-bearing strains of cattle, as well as apples, cherries, plums and walnuts for British orchards - plus lilies, roses, pansies and poppies to provide scent and colour for the island's early gardens. The British were famous for their trained hunting dogs, which they bred, trained and sold to Europe. But it was probably thanks to the Romans that now appeared, curled up by the second-century fireside, the domestic cat.
How strange to think of a Britain that once had neither a rose or a cat in it.
Robert Lacey, the author, tells a mean tale. Hadrian's Wall, Boadicea, Richard Lionheart, Edward Longshanks, Robin Hood, Wat Tyler, and the origins of so many customs and happenings that I never really thought about before. Top stuff.