Category: Social and Cultural History

Mythbusting Ancient Rome: cruel and unusual punishment

Reading time: 7 minutes
Early Roman history is full of stories about the terrible fates that befell citizens who broke the law. When a certain Tarpeia let the enemy Sabines into Rome, she was crushed and thrown headlong from a precipice above the Roman forum.
Such tales not only served as a warning for future generations, they also provided a backstory for some of Rome’s cruellest punishments. Tarpeia is one of many legendary figures who appear in Livy’s History from the Foundation of the City; regardless of whether she was a real person, it became established practice to throw traitors from the “Tarpeian Rock”.

Read More

‘Experimental in every sense’: The Metropolitan Police Women Patrols

Reading time: 8 minutes
On 18 October 1918, Sir Cecil Macready, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, submitted a recommendation to the Home Secretary, Sir George Cave, ‘for the experimental formation of a body of Women Police’. Soon after, the Metropolitan Police Women Patrols were formed in 1919, led by Superintendent Sofia Stanley This was the first time women were formally inducted into the Metropolitan Police.

Read More

The Right of Wreck

Reading time: 8 minutes
With howling westerly winds and in freezing rain, the unforgiving waves push ships closer to the treacherous rocks of the merciless Cornish coastline. The crew has travelled miles with precious cargo, desperately trying to right their course with no modern navigation. In an attempt to save the vessel and themselves, they begin to throw goods overboard.

Read More

The History of Food Delivery 

Reading time: 7 minutes
From Ancient Rome to Uber Eats, food delivery has a long history.
Fast food has its roots in Ancient culture. No matter the century, human nature seems to crave convenient, easy access to food prepared and sold by others. In 1911, historians found evidence of one of these ‘fast food’ restaurants in Pompeii. Called a ‘thermopolium,’ these establishments were specifically designed to provide refreshments and hot, prepared food for the working class.

Read More

The colonial origins of scientific forestry in Britain

Reading time: 27 minutes
Around 1850 Britain had no forestry service and there was no formal training of foresters. Forestry was still practised in the context of estates mainly owned by the aristocracy and managed by foresters who had learned the traditional management techniques under an apprentice system from their predecessors. British forestry was fragmented, not formalised, and far from centralised during the entire 19th century.

Read More

From ‘Australia’s Titanic’ to deadly mutineers: 4 infamous shipwrecks found on the Great Barrier Reef

Reading time: 6 minutes
The Great Barrier Reef is incredible, with turquoise water, stunning reefs and white sandy cays. Yet its name infers something quite different – a barrier: treacherous, dynamic and dangerous to navigate.
For millennia, people navigated and traded across the northern coast of Australia and the Coral Sea.
When early European seafarers came face-to-face with the world’s largest coral reef system, it was not the beauty they saw, but a nearly unnavigable structure that could easily sink their ships.

Read More

How drinking fashions change: a historical take on the British fizz fervour

Reading time: 7 minutes
Brits, typically associated with sipping warm beer on village greens – or, more recently, binge drinking in the Mediterranean – are, it seems, acquiring more refined tastes. Recent HMRC records reveal an 80% rise in sparkling wine sales over the last five years. Whether you have a penchant for Prosecco or can’t abide Cava, such an enormous increase in the fortunes of fizz is remarkable. So what’s behind such changing drinking fashions?

Read More
Loading