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Published: July 12th 2019
Look! Old Stuff
Romans made forts out of bricks!. Beats plywood and spare boards.
Jet Lag? We Don't Got No Stinkin' Jet Lag
Up early and, if not bright, then at least with a little glow, we ate breakfast (full English of course!) at the hotel restaurant before taking everything out of our luggage and packing it back in so that we can leave most of the suitcases in the car for the next few days. Driving on the left was, again, second nature to Tony, and we fell back into our habits of Anne as Navigator, and Tony just trying to get into the correct lane to exit the roundabouts.
Our first goal today was to head to Hadrian's Wall. Tony has wanted to see it since he was little and living in England. Michelle is interested in the Roman history surrounding it. Anne wants to go because walls are cool. Hadrian's wall stretches from coast to coast. It started out as a wooden wall protected by frequent forts, and a few larger forts nearby. As time went on, the Romans built it up to the 4 foot wide (in most sections) you can see today (when it is exposed or unearthed by excavation). The idea was to
It's a very nice fort
It's a fort that's still there, (mostly) underground.
protect the vast frontier of Roman citizens (seriously, there were a lot of them in the area) from the "barbarians" to the North.
We started at the Roman Fort at Chester. The Fort was excavated in the mid 1800s by Chesters who was curious about the ruins he could see on his family's land. Since he had plenty of money and influence he was able to work to preserve much the the remaining wall in the area. Chesters had no real long-term plan for his exploration. His approach was more scientific, trying out and inventing new methods of archaeology, and digging primarily to prove his theories. While some artifacts were found at the site, thievery was not his primary motivation.
After checking out the ruins of the fort, we asked at the reception desk where the best place to see a large part of the wall was. They directed us down the road about 5 miles to a car park off Steel Rigg road. From there was could see and walk along a large part of the wall that bordered a long and broad cliff face. The hike down and then up was very
Sitting on Hadrian's Wall
Tony has waited for this day for 35 years! Bonus to sit with his daughter!
steep and it was quite windy by that point in the afternoon. We made it, though, and it was completely worth it. Michelle commented, at the top, that it was funny how the locals used the walls as part of their ranching operations, while she was looking at a sheep gate installed within the wall's gatehouse.
From there we decided to find lunch. As we were getting back on the main road, Anne noticed a sign for another Roman site, Vindalonda, that had an active archaeological dig going on. We headed in, hoping they also had a tea shop with some good food.
Vindalonda was a large fort and town built before Hadrian's Wall and has been actively excavated since the 70s. There was even a recreation of Hadrian's Wall used to gauge how time and the elements may have effected the original wall. They found the wooden version of the wall sank rapidly, and, without the . We walked around and found the active dig site. 20 or so people were there digging out muddy clay from the ditch that surrounded the fort and breaking open the clumps in search of elements that
Tony just realized this was an actual Roman raised floor, still intact, and he is 3 feet above the ground.
would normally decay but were preserved by the anaerobic nature of the location. They were specifically looking for leather and woven textiles that may have been cast off. British excavations work on a grant system, which requires a specific argument for doing the digging. In this case, there is a hole in the knowledge of how Romans used leather and cloth in their daily life. The current grant allows the excavation of (effectively) trash disposal sites to find fragments and help answer those questions.
We also found a nice open air museum and a tea room at the bottom of the site. Lunch accomplished we sat down to choose our next destination. We decided to let chance, and the roll of the dice, help us decide. We divided up 360 degrees into four quadrants and rolled a 4-sided die to determine a general direction. Then we split that quadrant up into 15 degree sections and rolled a six sided die to further refine our direction. Our next set of rolls was for distance. We put a limit of 60 miles. We rolled a d6 for the tens and than a d10 for the ones. We ended up
It's a very large fort
Each of those buildings housed 3 men and a horse. The center was for waste disposal. Stinky.
heading north and slightly west about 36 miles as the crow flies toward Jedburgh. We found an interesting route through the Northumberland National Park that took us on some nice back-roads and through the Scottish border.
Tony found us a great B&B in Hundelee and after checking in we headed into Jedburgh for dinner and to take a look around.
Jedburgh is home to a very large Abbey as well as a museum dedicated to Mary, Queen of Scots. We plan to visit the Abbey in the morning before rolling the dice again to let fate lead us to the next adventure.
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