The Handbook of Leicester, by James Thompson, 12mo. pp. 96. Leicester, 1844.
We are glad to see local guide-books compiled with some degree of taste and accuracy; they are humble works of utility, which may in general be made attractive and interesting, but which have too often been 'got up' in the most contemptible manner. The little volume before us is an honourable exception, and as such the more gratifying as it relates to so interesting a town as Leicester. Mr. Thompson has entered upon the task with a taste for his subject, and for the antiquities of all ages so thickly strewed around him, and the visitor may safely proceed under his guidance without any fear of being misled or misinformed. It is embellished with a few neat woodcuts of objects of antiquarian interest. We select as examples the cuts of two of the most interesting of the Roman monuments of Leicester. The first is an inscribed Roman milestone, of new red sandstone, which "is now placed in the
museum of the Literary and Philosophical Society. It was dug up on the side of the Foss road, about two miles on the north of Leicester, in 1771. It is cylindrical in shape, it measures about 3 feet 6 inches in height, and 5 feet 7 inches in circumference. The letters of the inscription are rudely cut. In 1781 they appeared to be nearly as follows:"—
divi trajan parth f div
trajan Hadrian aug
pot iv cos iii a ratis
The Jewry Wall, Leicester.
This inscription fixes, beyond any doubt, Leicester as the site of the Roman town of Ratæ, and might, from the spot in which it was found, be of some use in determining the measure of the Roman mile in Britain. The other cut we select is a view of the part of the ancient Roman wall, called now the Jewry wall, the general appearance of which is here very well represented; but the layers of bricks are not sufficiently well defined, and the engraver has given the appearance of a receding arch to what was merely intended for a breach in the masonry under the third archway. Much doubt has existed on the original object for which this building served. It has been by some supposed to have been a temple of Janus, while others consider it to have been one of the Roman gateways of the town. Mr. Thompson has given a brief abstract of the various opinions on this subject, and concise accounts of the numerous other remains of Roman and medieval antiquity in Leicester, and we leave his book with the wish that it may serve as a model to similar guides to many an old and interesting locality. t. w.