Book review: ‘Watling Street’ by John Higgs

Travels through Britain and its ever-present past.

Watling Street

This book was recommended to me by a friend. He thought I might enjoy it as ‘it has something of the thoughts-on-a-walk feel of On the Moor about it’. He was right: I did enjoy the book; and the device of going off on all manner of random tangents inspired by things encountered on a journey was indeed reminiscent of my own book (albeit, as my friend observed, the themes were different).

In ‘Watling Street’, John Higgs uses a sporadic trip up the eponymous Roman road as an excuse to investigate such diverse topics as:

  • fortifications under Dover cliffs;
  • Boudicca;
  • the code-breakers of Bletchley Park;
  • conflicting hypotheses about what inspired James Bond’s code-name, OO7;
  • the link between Charles Dickens and Rod Hull & Emu;
  • highwaymen (and women);
  • rugby football mythology.

It’s all very entertaining stuff, set against the backdrop of the UK’s insane Brexit vote (my adjective, not Higgs’s). Oh, and there’s even a four-part podcast, which is a nice touch.

Note: I will receive a small referral fee if you buy this book via one of the above links.

By Richard Carter

Richard Carter is a writer and photo­grapher living in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Website · Facebook · Twitter · Newsletter · Book

Buy my book
On the Moor

…wonderful. Science and history and geography and evolution and culture all tangled up in musings while walking about the moors around Hebden Bridge.
PZ Myers, biologist and blogger, Pharyngula

More reviews »

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *