Date & Time: Tuesday 12th February 2008.
Places visited : Vindolanda Roman Fort and Museum ( NY 770 663 )
Walk details : A walk around the fort, 1 mile south of Hadrian's Wall, Northern England.Highest point : It was all pretty good !
Visited with : Family: Paula with Thomas and Abi, Gareth, Ann and our dogs, Harry and Bethan.
Weather : "Wall to wall" sunshine (pardon the pun) !
A close up of the Roman Wall
With family visiting, we all decided to drive to see Hadrian's Wall.
An hour's drive north from our part of Cumbria, and inland a bit, found us in the heart of Roman Wall country.
The northern extent of the Roman Empire was defined by the wall which stretched from Bowness on Solway in the west to Wallsend, Newcastle in the east.
We visited the middle section of the "border" just east of Haltwhistle and chose Vindolanda Fort for our morning stop.
The main fort area was enclosed by the distant wall behind the tree to the left, but in front of us was a large area that was equally important.
It was the site of the Vicas or village that grew up alongside the fort over the five centuries of Roman rule, started after a battle in AD 85.
This flat area is the old village, with the fort on the higher ground to the right. Excavations are carried out in the summer months each year.
Due to the multiple use of the site, the layers of subsoil contain the remains of successive buildings, each constructed on the foundations of it's predecessor.
It is estimated the original buildings lie anything from two to eight metres below the modern turf surface.
We walked through the village and across the paved approach to the old West Gate of the fort itself.
Before Hadrian built his stone wall across the width of England, the fortifications were made of wood on top of a mound or turf wall.
A replica of an original wall and tower were built thirty years ago and, though still sound, show firstly what it may have been like and secondly how such a defence structure would cope with the climate over time. Wooden defences had to be replaced many times during the occupation so later a stone wall was built.
A typical section of turf wall and baracade . . .
. . . and a tower the Romans could look out from !
From the top we got a fine view of the site.
That's me down there.
The two turrets being replicas would not have been built at this location but up on the wall itself. We planned to visit that after lunch.
Another replica, this time of a typical Roman Temple.
The gravestone on the left is the original memorial to a 25 year old soldier of the 9th Cohort of the Batavian Regiment who was a Warrent Officer who had served for seven years. Average life expectancy of Roman men at that time was 38 to 40 years, the ladies about 10 years less.
" Dedicated to the Water Nymphs by the people of Vindolanda "
Don't forget - " A day without wine is like a day without sunshine "
I tend to agree.
The first modern curator of the site built himself a house known as Chesterholm. This has subsequently been expanded into the present day Vindolanda Museum.
It houses an extensive collection of Roman finds, from pottery and glass to leatherwork and shoes. One of the major finds are the writing tablets that record life at the time. They have been unearthed from the site and have been voted "Britain's Top Treasure" in a recent poll
Time for a walk alongside the wall itself, so we made our way back across the site towards the car.
This is the remains of the Commander's House in the middle of the old fort.
Roman stonework in the old Vicas area
An old water tank - Vindolanda was a successful location due to the availability of fresh drinking water.
A really good visit was followed by a walk alongside the wall itself.
It runs along the high ground just north of the fort and can be seen climbing out of the dip with the famous tree.
More in Part two . . .
- - - o o o - - -
Technical note: Pictures taken with my Canon G7 or Ann's Ixus75 Digital cameras.
Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.
This site best viewed with . . . a local guide book and a sense of history.
Previous walk - 10th Feb 2008 Sunshine with a difference on Blake Fell