On 21st November, St Mary's Sixth Form Classicists and their teachers were delighted to team up with Bentley Wood High School for Girls for a joint visit to Newnham College Cambridge, to meet Professor Dame Mary Beard, writer and creator of a number of BBC documentaries.

The day started with an excellent tour of Newnham College. We were shown the library, the old and new living quarters, the beautiful gardens and the formal hall. This was followed by lunch in the Principal's Lodge where we were royally entertained with a buffet and had plenty of time to think up questions to put to Mary Beard in our Q&A session.

Mary introduced herself for five minutes and extolled, with passion, her reasons for the Classics being a living academic discipline, before inviting the girls to ask their questions. These ranged from gauging her views on Athenian democracy, or how far Cicero had been responsible for the fall of the Roman Republic, to how much it mattered that Classical literature is largely written by men living in a paternalistic society, to whether she preferred Homer or Vergil. Having written a book about Women in Power, she was keen to talk about why women were considered in the ancient world to be feeble and how some of these thoughts still exist today. There was also mention of how Donald Trump's tweets use similar tactics to Julius Caesar who, in his own way, was tweeting when he said ' Veni, Vidi, Vici'. She saw Julius Caesar as the most influential Roman.

This session was followed by an introduction to the Anglo Saxons and Archaeology led by a PHD student, Sam Leggett. She gave a fascinating account of how teeth can reveal a great deal about us and she showed sets of teeth dating back 1,500 years. We learnt how you could tell whether the teeth came from Kent or Cambridgeshire and that remains can be dug up for archaeological research after just 100 years! Our final destination was a tour of Cambridge itself. This gave the girls a chance to see the colleges and get a glimpse of what it might be like to study there. This was an excellent day which was enjoyed by all who were lucky enough to have been part of it.

Mrs Elizabeth Rothwell, Head of Classics