Today I fulfilled a long held ambition to explore some of Hadrian’s Wall which was constructed by the Romans in 120AD, taking around 8 years to complete. When in use it was effectively the northern limit of the Roman Empire.73 miles long, or 80 Roman miles!
The displays we saw today brought home the fact that not many of the invading army were actually born in Rome, rather they were men from captured lands, regions now known as Syria, Netherlands, Belgium and France.
There are many, many sites to visit along the length of the wall and you can indeed walk on sections, although you are encouraged to walk on the adjacent path to help preserve the wall. With the time we had we chose to visit the excellent Roman Museum to gain an overview and then the Vindolanda site just ten minutes further east. Vindolanda was a Roman auxiliary fort and it is noted for the Vindolanda tablets, among the most important finds of military and private correspondence,written on wooden tablets, found anywhere in the Roman Empire.
We were totally blown away by the size of this site and the excavations, which are still going on today and will for some time, so extensive is the site.
This is a ‘live’ archaeological site and you can apply to be a volunteer on their annual excavations – check out their website – Vindolanda . I am VERY tempted!!
There is a totally absorbing museum at Vindolanda which houses displays of the thousands of items which have been excavated to date. These really bring the site to life and the detail and craftsmanship in the shoes, jewelry, pottery and weapons which have been found are simply stunning and so well preserved due to the environmental conditions on the site. I was so engrossed that I forgot to take all but this single photograph in the museum -sorry!
It is rather humbling to stand on these sites and imagine the people who lived there almost 2000 years ago now and who lived, laughed, loved and died here,leaving behind little fragments of their lives for us to discover all this time later.