The Roman Road to Canterbury: Chaucer and the Classical Tradition


"Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages."
- Chaucer, The
Canterbury Tales

When Chaucer’s pilgrims made their famous journey from the Tabard Inn in Southwark to the shrine of Thomas Becket in Canterbury, they followed the path of Watling Street, an old Roman road. We (Sarah Ellery and Ana Anderson, teachers of Latin and English, respectively, at Montgomery Bell Academy) were struck by the resonance of that fact—both as a piece of historical information necessary for understanding English language, history, and literature, and also as a metaphor for illustrating the classical foundations of Western culture.

Sarah Ellery and Ana Anderson at Canterbury Cathedral, June 2008

In the summer of 2008, we went to England to explore how the Pilgrim's Way to and from Canterbury is the very road that leads us back to the literary tradition of the ancient world. You can follow our four day journey as pilgrims by clicking on "Our Walk: An Overview" below, or you can explore the literary, historical, and cultural context of Chaucer by using the links at the left.

Our Walk: An Overview
On The Road: Day One[[On The Road: Day Two]]
[[On The Road: Day Three]]
[[On The Road: Day Four]]