I’m a firm believer in time travel. I have romantic visions of past life journeys to exotic locales. If there’s one thing I’m passionate about when traveling, it’s exploring ancient ruins and imagining life as it would have been when the structure was new and children played nearby, as elder statesmen pondered life. However, for now, the dreamer in me contents herself with time traveling to memories of voyages past.
So, a few years back, on a journey to my second home of London (or Londinium as the Romans called it), I decided to step off the beaten path and venture away for a day trip outside of the city and go “in search of. . .” a Roman villa in the Kent countryside. Less than an hour outside of Victoria Station and I was dropped smack dab in the middle of…..well……nowhere. There was nary a soul around. I spied some cows and horses on the horizon and felt in my heart of hearts there must be a pub nearby……..afterall, this was England.
So, with this in mind, I decided to hike. It was a long walk from the station and no one at the pub had a clue what I was talking about. It was then a much longer walk till I reached Lullingstone Villa (Lullingstone Lane, Eynsford) I had hoped for Pompei-like surroundings with a museum and gift shop but my hopes were dashed when I espied the WWII quonset hut at the end of the lane.
OK, the hut must be protecting the villa from the elements. I just knew this would be the greatest British find since Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter discovered King Tut’s tomb. Then I see it, there ahead of me, across the grassy farmland is a Roman aqueduct as tall as the Empire State Building (well, maybe not quite) and it went on for miles. Yeah, the Romans were here (actually it’s a railway viaduct from 1862). This must be the place.
Inside, there was a wonderful mosaic floor and the brick outline of this 1st century villa. Toss in a few skeletons for good measure and that’s about it. My archaeological adventure was far from my Indiana Jones fantasy.
Historically, however, this is a significant Roman find in England. It has now been identified as the home of a former Roman Emperor, Publius Helvius Pertinax, who ruled Rome for just 87 days in 193 A.D. before he was murdered (weren’t they all?) Anyway, my Roman fantasies had to reside in my colorful imagination for another few years until I made my way to Ercolano and Pompei…..now, that’s where you can see ruins!