Sixty Year 8 girls made the Classics Department’s annual pilgrimage to the world-famous sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and for the first time with such a large group, we divided into two teams that set off each morning in different directions to explore different sites in the area and then reformed in the evening to share our experiences over dinner. This created a real excitement about what we had each done and what we were looking forward to doing on subsequent days.
We enjoyed good, clear weather through the week and while we knew we would get to see all the usual things in the famous cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum (the amphitheatre, theatres, baths, shops and ornately decorated houses), we got to see a number buildings on the sites that haven’t been open to visitors in the 30 years I have been visiting the region. The Houses of the Ephebe and of Marcus Lucretius Fronto were particularly impressive among the newly restored buildings too numerous to mention. After some initial instruction on the design and uses of a range of buildings, the girls were great at using their knowledge to interpret the sites themselves and also to empathise with the victims of the disastrous volcanic eruption of AD79.
As always each girl plays an important part in making every year’s trip unique, and this time we saw a fine display of stamina from everyone to get round as much of the city of Pompeii as possible and also some emotional scenes as girls reflected on the individual human tragedies that are represented by the body casts and skeletons at Pompeii and Herculaneum. A highlight for Mr Hargreaves’ party was being given special access to a couple of Pompeii’s better preserved houses that are not usually open to the public.
This year our third major site was the city of Paestum, with its three impressive Greek temples. The less obvious remains of the Greek and Roman public buildings allowed us to reflect on the ways in which the people of the region organised life in their cities; the beautifully painted tombs in the site museum also gave an insight into the priorities if ancient life. We had arrived there following the impressive drive along the winding road that clings to the cliff edges of the famous Amalfi coast and Mrs Oliver’s group were treated to a visit to see the buffalo that produce the region’s famous mozzarella cheese.
My thanks must go to Mrs Oliver who inspired her group of 30 girls, and also to the rest of the staff who were equally enthusiastic and conscientious in their care for the girls. This proved to be a fantastic time to visit Pompeii in particular and we look forward to launching next year’s trip to the current Year 7 girls in the near future.
View the gallery here.