Day 119: Hadrian's WallJune 14, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C
Time for another UNESCO site: Hadrian's Wall! Up fairly early again and out the door, heading north-west this time. Actually less driving to do today, as the wall was much closer to us than Durham was.
First some background - Hadrian's Wall was built in the early second century, around 122-126AD, and named after the Roman Emperor Hadrian, who toured the province of Brittania (among many others) upon his ascension to the throne. He realised that the empire was about as big as could be reliably managed, and so rather than expanding as previous emperors had done, he decided to shore up the borders instead.
The wall was basically a large ditch, adjacent to a three-metre high wall, with turrets situated every Roman mile (about 1.2 miles). It ran 85-ish miles from coast to coast across northern England, from the North Sea to the Irish Sea. There were also 16 forts just inside the wall at regular intervals, which would house about 800 troops each. So it was a pretty monumental undertaking, particularly given the distance from Rome (about 1100 miles).
Our first stop was at a spot called Housesteads, where the remains of a large fort still stand, along with the largest section of the wall still remaining. I should note that probably 90% of the physical stone wall is gone, though the earthworks are pretty clearly visible for most of the length. We spent a couple of hours wandering around the fort and checking out the wall, filming as we went.
Next stop was further along, at Vindolanda - another fort, but smaller. This one also had a large village that had grown up alongside the fort, both of which were under current archaeological excavation. Apparently you can apply to volunteer to dig with them for a day or two during the summer months, which looked like hard graft but still fun. Lots of objects get recovered: shoes, coins, pottery, jewellery, weapons, all sorts. Earlier that morning they'd found a coin in really good condition so everyone was still quite excited by that.
Grabbed a spot of lunch here in the cafe and did some more filming before finishing up with a walk along a section of the wall. Got talking to an American mother and daughter who were travelling through the area - the daughter took photos of Schnitzel wearing a bandana she had made. Apparently her Instagram is her putting bandanas on stray dogs, go figure!
By now it was mid afternoon and we'd gotten all the footage we needed, and felt like we'd had a reasonable crack at exploring the Wall. We certainly didn't feel like emulating all the hikers we'd seen doing the full length! Apparently it's quite a common trail during the summer months, but takes about a week to finish. Yikes.
Back to our hut via Tesco for a snack, where we ended up working, relaxing and cooking a microwave dinner of Indian food. It's actually quite nice to finish up what we're doing around mid-afternoon, since it gives us way more time in the evening to relax or work, depending.Read more