For 28 years we lived in Ribchester, Lancashire, in a house that backed onto the site of a Roman bath-house. Soon after moving in I found the first piece of pottery whilst gardening. It was confirmed as Roman by archaeologists who at the time were excavating the bath-house. Over the years, I unearthed dozens of shards, tiles and other items, and learned to recognise the different types - Samian ware, black-burnished ware, rusticated ware, amphorae, flagons, mortaria, floor tiles, roof tiles and flue tiles. Some pieces I was able to stick together; in one case making an almost complete bowl.

Shards of decorated Samian ware

A Roman tilemaker's fingerprints embedded in a fragment of floor tile

My son, Stephen, found this stone with an incised figure on it.

We took it to the local museum who sent it away to be examined by experts. They said it was a Roman intaglio which, because of its size, was probably from a child's ring.

Below is my display cabinet of Roman pottery pieces. On the right is a shard of Samian ware that has had a figure etched on it by a Roman soldier nearly 2000 years ago - possibly to identify it as his.