Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hadrian's Wall

Back in the year 122, the Emperor Hadrian traveled to the limits of the Empire to check things out. Rather than try to expand further, he decided that it would be wise to consolidate and strengthen the existing expanse of Roman territory. Visiting Roman England, he ordered that a wall be built--to keep the barbarian Picts from crossing into the Empire and making mischief.
You see, there was trouble from the Scots even then. My Scots husband had no trouble going down the steep hill on this portion of the wall trail. Myself, I was scooting down one stepping stone at a time on my seat.

The wall stretched from the Irish Sea on the west to the North Sea on the east--about 73 modern miles. From Carlisle to Newcastle--from the River Solway to the River Tyne--portions of the wall are still intact and the route of the wall makes up the popular trail.
It was eight to ten feet wide and 15 feet high. In a few portions of the path, you actually walk ON the wall, not just beside it.
It was not just a wall. Small forts called milecastles were built into it every Roman mile. There were gates opening to the north (not everyone on that side was feared.)
And several large forts were built as well.
the ruins of Houseteads--one of the larger forts

Since the Hadrian's Wall Path shares itself with sheep pasture, there are some means of keeping them in place. These gates do not assume that everyone will remember to close the gate behind them. And in some places, instead of a gate, there is a stile.
We hiked along just a few miles of Hadrian's Wall. We would like to go back to walk more of the wall and see the ruins of the Roman town of Vindolanda, where civilian artifacts have recently been found, including typical letters home.


RuneE said...

I think I recognized some of those places. A marvellous area both to visit and walk in.

Thumbelina said...

I am watching with great interest. You're in my home territory now. I was born and bred in a little village near to Haltwhistle, Northumberland. Housesteads, Vindolanda, Crag Lough and Hadrian's Wall were all part of my summer holiday picnics.
Of course, Vindolanda and Housesteads were much smaller affairs then, and not as set up for "tourists". The villages of Once Brewed and Twice Brewed (yes - it refers to how the beer was brewed!) have excellent hostelries as I recall and the wildness of the moors calls me back... :)

My village where I grew up is no the A689 from Brampton to Alston. I was born in Alston.

Thank you for all the memories you give me as you post these. I hope you enjoy it. It is breathtaking (to me.)

katney said...

We visited for some time with a lady from Once Brewed, as our bus had broken down and we had to wait for the next. She did not explain the name of the town, and I didn't see Twice Brewed on the map or the bus route.

Thumbelina said...

Twice Brewed used to be just further up the road (B6318). There's not much between them. I think Twice Brewed is just an inn now but not sure. Either way, they were there when I was a kid!
Was just sharing some memories of mine. Hope you enjoy the area. Isn't it beautiful?