It is the early second century AD, close to the northern frontier of Roman Britain. Inside a small stone building within a settlement overlooking the Tees Valley, a local farmer entertains an important visitor. Despite the cold outside, the two are warmed by the hypocaust system which heats the building. It is quite dark inside, the interior illuminated by flickering oil lamps. The walls are decorated with painted frescoes. While the two men bathe in steam generated by ladling water from a bucket onto the hot floor, the host pours a drink from a shining bronze jug imported from Italy into a samian cup made in Central France. As they converse, concluding some matters of trade, they enjoy some oysters imported from the coast.
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