Weymouths Volume 7 is a journey, a zoom, a reaching back. A dig, a reveal.
This is where I encounter the visible remains of another society. Below the surface, here’s the evidence of worship, ritual, architecture — structures that pre-date our sense of real (embedded within the identity of the place, but “beyond the map”). Volume 7 is about the “Roman works and fortifications with which the neighbourhood abounds,” upon Jordan Hill, just outside Weymouth, England. In 1844 the Ashmolean Society detailed the discovery of the remains, and published the notes at Oxford in 1854.
“The most remarkable discoveries made by Mr. Medhurst in 1843, and visited in October last by Dr. Buckland and Mr. Conybeare, were the foundations of a temple on the summit of Jordan Hill, and of a villa, a quarter of a mile distant, between this hill and the village of Preston.
“Dr. Buckland conjectures that this building may have been a temple of Esculapius, which received the votive offerings of the Roman families and invalids who visited Weymouth for sea-bathing and for health.”
As the 19th-century text travels into the foundations (details of bird skeletons, human bones, seeds, coins and ashes), I zoom into my photograph of the temple foundation taken at Jordan Hill on 6 March 2012. I go deeper into the surface and the photograph reveals a single color, like a flatlining of historical narrative. Perhaps this is a way to escape the figurative. By the end of the 112-page book, my documentation of Roman remains floats around a single pixel of color, like some suggestion of another reality. I can’t think of a more authentic way to look.
In Volume 10 I discovered that I can slow down the read by devoting an entire page to a single word. A single paragraph spread over 59 pages. Reading at a different scale, to expose other structures over time, like erosion.
Here is slow reading, again — this time, a single sentence on each spread. This is how reading can be like zooming. This is how reading can be more like digging. Slow reading leads to open reading.