Roads from the Past: A Short History of Britain's Gypsies, Roma and Travellers

Drawing of a gypsy camp fire
Thu, 07/11/2019 - 10:03

There are questions we at the TT hear so many times, and we are sure you do too:

"It's so complicated. What are we supposed to call you all? Where do you come from? What have you got to do with each other? I'm confused!'

And we often wished there was something short and sweet that we could show people to point them in the right direction.

'Roads from the Past' is a response to these questions. It's a short animated film about the history of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people in Britain, from ancient times up to the present day.

The fact is, our history is long and complicated. You can't explain it all in five minutes, any more than you could explain the history of England, or farming, or music.

So this film isn't a full explanation. It's just a start. A way into thinking about Gypsy, Roma and Traveller history that is based on some important facts. Like the fact we are ethnic groups: peoples like any other. And that we can trace our histories back a long way, just like everybody else. And that like all history, ours is worth paying attention to.

It might be especially useful for teachers or other people working with children, but we hope adults will watch it too. And it's not just aimed at explaining our history to non-Gypsy, Roma or Traveller people. The term 'GRT' is controversial - not everybody agrees it should be used. This film doesn't try and explain the politics of the term. But it does say a little bit about the things we have traditionally had in common; things that have led to us sometimes being referred to together.

Rural Media and Travellers Times would especially like to thank the young people from GATEHerts who helped us to develop the story and animation style, Ruby Smith who helped develop the script, Beck Williams a young animator from Stoke-on-Trent for her incredible artistic achievement in making this flow and subtly weaving in so many visual references to Gypsy and Traveller culture, writer and storyteller Richard O'Neill for his wonderful voiceover and Arts Council England for their support in getting this animation made       

A lot of people put work into this film. Everyone in the credits deserves their mention. 

Damian Le Bas