Wednesday, 31 August 2011

BRITAIN`S OLDEST GHOST?

Perhaps one of Britain`s most persistent ancient hauntings is that of a Roman soldier who patrols the causeway connecting Mersea Island to the mainland on the Essex coast.

Travellers crossing the causeway or `Strood`  have regularly seen, and even more often heard, this ghostly soldier. He may march beside a walker there with a soldier’s steady step. He may suddenly appear in the headlights of a car dashing across the causeway, and just as suddenly disappear. Some say that as the road has been raised higher than its level in Roman days only his top half is visible, as the rest tramps the level as it would have been when he lived.
For whatever reason, sightings in the autumn are said to be most common.


                          A video on the legend of the Mersea Island Ghost

Mersea has strong Roman connections. Because of it`s milder climate the area like today was used in the cultivation of grapes for wine.
The Island for some retiring soldiers became their home having settled into the lifestyle of  Romano-British society, and it is perhaps this connection that perpetuates the legend of the Roman ghost.



The Romano-British burial mound
The gated and locked entrance

Here in this archway Roman grave goods were found.
 Further confirmation of the Roman connection occurred in 1912 when an ancient burial barrow or tumulus was exacavated by archeologists who discovered at it`s centre, a small burial chamber built of Roman bricks capped by septaria (clay nodules) and inside was a lead box with a wooden lid. The box contained an urn of green glass containing cremated remains.

The grave goods today on display at Colchester Museum
Local legend links the Roman ghost to this burial mound.
So whoever the Roman ghost could be, his identity and purpose remains shrouded in mystery to this day.
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