The Empire Stops Here, By Philip Parker

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The Independent Culture

This huge, learned and continuously fascinating guide to the periphery of the Roman Empire, "lands that promised victory, booty and glory", starts close to home with Hadrian's Wall, whose troops "represented the Roman military machine at its peak of effectiveness".

Yet, as with our own troops, they could be badly provisioned, judging by one soldier's letter requesting socks from home. Following the remains of Roman walls through the car parks and kebab shops of modern Cologne is "one of the most extraordinary experiences that the Roman frontier can offer". A more exotic goal for classical tourists is the sacred carp pools of Edessa in Turkey, still occupied today by "fish grown fat and numerous on the titbits thrown by pilgrims".