Being immersed in that much history called up memories of my boyhood in Slatington, outside Allentown, Pa., and was one factor that drew me to northern England for this trip.
In the imagination of my 10-year-old buddies and me, a set of wide stone steps in front of one large house was turned into the Sheriff of Nottingham's castle. The dilapidated remains of an abandoned factory served as the backdrop for Roman gladiator games, during which we whacked each other with homemade wooden swords.
Now almost 50 years later, Jim and I were exploring the ruins of real castles and Roman forts. We were following much the same route trod by Roman legions, looking out over a rural landscape that, in at least a few places, was little changed.