September 30th, 2011

Hadrian's Wall tree

Northumberland and beyond - part eight: Vindolanda

Leaving Birdoswald I took the old Military Road, the service road the Romans built, following the line of Hadrian's Wall. Driving this road is a real pleasure. In true Roman fashion it was built with no detours, not exactly in a straight line but certainly going precisely where they wanted it to go. There are dips and hollows, crests and hills and it just sweeps through them like an arrow. And, every now and then whenever I glanced to the north, there was The Wall, or the banks and ditches (the vallum) that protected it. It's something special to visit an old site and explore it, but it's even more special to see a magnificent construction like Hadrian's Wall, almost 2000 years old and still dominating the landscape, for kilometre after kilometre along its length. I'll say more about my feelings, and what The Wall represented, in my next entry. 

My second Roman fort of the day was Vindolanda a few kilometres to the east, back in Northumberland. Happily, there was an archaeological dig going on, so I got to see just a bit more than I might have done. Vindolanda is not a front line fort like Birdoswald or Housesteads (which will feature in my next entry). Instead, it was a service garrison a few Roman miles to the south, with a well established civilian settlement outside of its walls. This is the area that was being excavated.

I'm sorry if there's a huge gap below when you open up the cut. Now that they've changed the way cuts work, I don't seem to be able to get it right.

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