We drove from Keswick to York via Hadrian’s Wall. The wall delineated the northern frontier of the Roman Empire. Spanning a narrow part of the island from sea to sea, it is some 75 miles long.
The conquest of Britain began around 43AD. The Romans built forts and cities, including Londinium, but were harassed by the troublesome Scottish tribes. Emperor Hadrian ordered the wall to be built, circa 122 AD, by the tens of thousands of soldiers stationed in the north. They made good use of the rocky escarpments and had guard gates every mile and observation posts in between.
Originally the wall was up to 20 feet high, but the stones have been pilfered over the centuries to build other structures and now it stands about four feet in height. It was used for some 300 years before the Romans left the island for good….and now it keeps the livestock in place.
There is also an archeological dig of a rather large Roman fort and settlement. The number of artifacts on display astounded us – for example dozens of finely crafted leather shoes. Apparently, despite the wet climate, the conditions were anaerobic and thus preserved items that you would have expected to rot.
Tom was mesmerized by a cache of coins some Roman soldier had buried for safe keeping, discovered almost 2000 years later. This was not so uncommon in a time without banks; thousands of purses or amphoras full of coins have been found in England alone. Did the person forget where s/he stashed it? Did they die without anyone else knowing where their money lay hidden away?
We hiked along the wall sometimes in heavy rain, but it was worth it. Perhaps weather and being a weekday kept away the crowds and we usually had it to ourselves.
I have wanted to see this remarkable feature for years and believe me it is fascinating.