The View From My Study – 6th October

I was reading the other day about the Aurelian Moors who were a unit of Roman soldiers stationed at the fortress of Aballava along Hadrian’s Wall, which is now Burgh-by-Sands in Cumbria. Aballava wasn’t just a fort, it was a whole community. As well as soldiers and officers, other people from across the empire would have lived in Aballava, including the soldiers’ families. Significantly, the Aurelian Moors hailed from north African provinces and were therefore black soldiers, fully qualified and respected as Roman warriors, living and flourishing in England. They were the first recorded group of Africans living in Britain.

Many do not know about Britain’s black history because it was not recorded. Yet, when one looks closely, there is plenty of archaeological and written evidence to show that Roman Britain was a multicultural society where black faces could be found in every strata of society and in places as diverse as Cumbria, York, London and the south coast of England. It was not uncommon for citizens to migrate across the empire so many towns were ethnically diverse, much to their benefit.

Once the Romans left, trade around the empire diminished and so links with Africa became fewer. Yet many people of African descent continued to live in Britain and develop, as much as anyone in society through the Dark and Middle Ages, developed.

As the western world became more globally-ambitious during the 16th and 17th Centuries, driven by the monetary rewards that came from discovery and trade, then attitudes towards those from other cultures began to change. Arrogance and greed ruled respect and, while it brought great wealth to many sections of society, it also brought great misery too, from which, in many ways, we are still trying to recover.

Respect is one of the greatest values that we can instil in today’s young. Respect for oneself and respect for others, whatever their background. It is why we chose respect as one of our core moral values. Bilton Grange is ethnically diverse and for that I am very grateful. It provides us with the opportunity to learn from different cultures, develop new language skills and become more globally-aware in general. But, unlike our forebears, the true rewards we want to seize are greater compassion, greater kindness and better understanding as we can all be rich from these.

Headmaster’s Bacon Butties will be served as usual tomorrow morning at 8.15am and then we shall welcome over 60 families to our Open Morning. It will be a busy day with matches in the afternoon too but that is how we like it!

I wish everyone a very good weekend!

Gareth Jones, Headmaster

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