Hadrian's Wall February 2011

Helen Rose  Hill Diary

Recently, I spent a weekend In Northumberland in the north of England near the border with Scotland. The objective was to explore Hadrian’s Wall so here are some facts. The area is 150 miles of World Heritage Site stretching from South Shields on the east coast across the far north of England to Ravenglass on the west including 73 miles(80 Roman miles) of wall, not all standing now. There were over 30 forts on the frontier and 80 milecastles and 160 turrets. The result was 300 years of supremacy by the Romans. Incredibly, it took only 3 Legions less than six years to build in the first century AD.  Hadrian’s successor established the Antonine Wall 100 miles to the north and this runs on the north side of Glasgow. Behind Hadrians Wall there lived the so called Barbarians, now known as the Scots! You can obtain more historical information on www.hadrians-wall.org.uk

The weekend was arranged by the walking club www.glasgowhf.btck.co.uk and we stayed at Once Brewed Hostel, a very quaint name and I assume linked with beer? We were warm and comfortable there and it was conveniently located near the pub. On the first day, we walked from the hostel with Tom as our guide. He had mugged up on the history so we stopped at interesting points for information. Our route was from Once Brewed to Housesteads Fort and on to Vindolanda.  The path is on the south side of the wall and there are good views over the surrounding countryside. The weather was kind to us although we did have a downpour at lunchtime but there was shelter at Housesteads Fort.

Housesteads Roman Fort is the best preserved fort on the wall and includes a multi-seated latrine, a hospital and perimeter wall. We explored around the site and stopped for a picnic lunch. It is strange to think that the Romans would have lunched here nearly two thousand years ago. It is wonderful to follow in the footsteps of history. Great Britain is steeped in ancient history and there is so much to see that even with all my travels, I have not been everywhere in Scotland of interest.

From Housesteads we followed a path south away from the wall to Royal Vindolanda, a classic fort and civilian remains. It was built in AD85 before the Wall and the site is owned by the Vindolanda Trust www.vindolanda.com. The name is thought to be a Latin form of the local name’White Fields’. The following day, we visited the Roman Army Museum at Carvoran where there was an inspiring, virtually reconstructed aerial view of Hadrian’s Wall.

It was a very enjoyable,  social and historically interesting weekend in good company  and with not a mountain in sight. Go and see Hadrian’s Wall. It is well worth the effort and you can walk a little or a lot as a shuttle bus runs between all the main sites on the Wall. Thanks to Tom for organising it.

Contact me at [email protected]

Coming attractions;  Whatever I do in the next few months or if there is anything in particular you would like me to write about please let me know.

 Thanks to Annette Monaghan for the photos.