A HUDDERSFIELD man has played a starring role in a project to install a huge replica of a Roman milestone in what was the epicentre of Britain in Roman times.
David Bradbury, a 45-year-old bespoke stonemason from Shepley, was commissioned to work on the Diamond Jubilee scheme which is due to be lifted into place tomorrow at an ancient village called Wall, near Lichfield.
Some of the country’s most distinguished scholars and experts on the period have used their varied talents on the elaborate reconstruction which measures 1.5 metres tall and weighs three quarters of a tonne.
The £4,000 project was set up after members of the Milestone Society approached John Crowe, chairman of Wall Parish Council, with the idea of installing a replica milestone replacing a Roman one lost many years ago on Watling Street – one of the most important Roman military highways in Britain.
He was enthusiastic and received financial support from a number of organisations including nearly £2,000 from Staffordshire County Council.
Mr Crowe said: “A consultant in archaeology, conservation and oral history, Jeremy Milln of Hereford, who used to be employed by the National Trust, has helped pull it all together for us.”
Other key people who worked on the project are Dr Roger Tomlin, a lecturer in late Roman history based in Oxford, who wrote the inscription text and Richard Grasby, a British Epigraphy Society member and a retired professional letter-cutter who did the drawings of the Latin lettering.
Mr Bradbury said: “I am extremely pleased to have been commissioned to do this work which has taken me around six weeks.
“It was a tricky one – you don’t get commission like that very often.
“I went to pick up the stone from Derbyshire. It’s called Stokehall and is a fine grit stone.
“The replica looks like a pillar box and I have now put the finishing touches to it.”
Mr Crowe said: “The replica will stand about half-a-mile away from the intersection of Watling Street – the route from London to Chester and Ryknild Street, the route from Gloucester to York, which is now the A5 and A38 respectively.
“I am extremely pleased that a small parish in a small village has been able to recognise the Jubilee in such a unique way.
“In Roman times they used to put the Emperor’s name on the milestone and now we are putting Liz’s on.
“And on November 24 the Lord Lt of Staffordshire, Ian Dudson CBE will officially unveil it.”
Mr Grasby of Dorset who is a renowned expert on Romano/British inscriptions, said: “David Bradbury has done a beautiful job, it is very good indeed.
“It’s very exciting to have been in at the beginning of something so extremely significant.”
Jan Scrine, chairman of the Milestone Society, who lives in Huddersfield, said: “How all this started was thanks to one of our members, the late Terry Keegan, who was berating us for not having done anything to mark the Diamond Jubilee.
“We think it is a very impressive achievement and we hope it will encourage future generations to take an interest in milestones and their importance in our heritage.”