I have lived most of my life in South Worcestershire, within sight of the northern end of the Cotswolds, that line of distant blue hills of my childhood.
Later, in my teens, I would cycle the long miles south and climb the steep and narrow lanes that wound up to the undulating plateau of the hills.
With the help of a tattered old one inch to the mile Ordnance Survey map I travelled the lonely byways (as they were then), searching out the sites of Roman villas and settlements, and also the Neolithic barrows which must themselves have been familiar landmarks in Roman times.
And always it was the Fourth Century, that final century of Roman Britain, which particularly fascinated me, its air of elegiac mystery permeating those Cotswold landscapes.
The Romans believed in the existence of genii loci – guardian spirits of place. And sometimes in the remote places of the hills, in the mists of winter mornings or in the dying light of summer evenings, it seemed as if those spirits were still there, still present after sixteen hundred years. Waiting. Watching. Remembering.