At the very edge of Empire, inscribed on a beautifully carved tombstone, there’s a story of love across the tracks. On Hadrian’s Wall a slave girl from Hertfordshire and a lonely traveller from Syria meet and marry. The story of Regina and Barates has inspired poets and writers eager for a simple love story to illuminate a dark and dangerous world. But how true might this be? What brought this couple together across cultures and thousands of miles? Was their alliance true love or forced marriage?
Mary Beard tracks our couple from Palmyra to South Shields, revealing the cultural mix of the Empire and the power dynamics of slave and master with the help of Syrian poet, Nouri Al-Jarrah.
Producer: Alasdair Cross
Expert Contributors: Greg Woolf, University of California Los Angeles and Frances McIntosh, English Heritage
Cast: John Collingwood Bruce played by Josh Bryant-Jones and reading of The Stone Serpent by Tyler Cameron
Translation of The Stone Serpent: Catherine Cobham
Arabic Translation: Samira Kawar
Special thanks to Alex Croom and Tyne and Wear Museums