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Durham University

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Publication details

Hingley, Richard (2016). Constructing the Nation and Empire: Victorian and Edwardian Images of the Building of Roman Fortifications. In Graeco-Roman Antiquity and the idea of nationalism in the 19th century: case studies. Fögen, Thorsten & Warren, Richard Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. 153-174.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

This paper explores four images that date to the late nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries that show building operations in Roman Britain. These include two paintings, an
engraving and a book illustration. The images show scenes derived from the Roman northern
frontiers in Britain and also the building of the Roman fort at Manchester. A series of human
characters included in these scenes provide insight into the ways that the Roman past was
envisaged in Victorian and Edwardian Britain. This paper seeks to relate these images of ancient
scenes of building to the concerns of contemporary communities about national identity
and the imperial role of Britain at a time of heightening international insecurity. It is clear that
Romans and ancient Britons represented powerful ancestor figures and the images show a
variety of ways in which the past was received and communicated.