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Boberius the Builder
Hadrians Wall (Newcastle)
Member Name: robinlawrie
Hadrians Wall (Newcastle)
Date: 26/01/02, updated on 26/01/02 (430 review reads)
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The head honcho at this time was a certain Imperator Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustus. Known to the Geordies as Gussie but to everyone else as the Emperor Hadrian. On hearing of this impudent race, Hadrian immediately set sail and arrived on the banks of the Tyne to see for himself the problem in hand. His reception by the Geordies or toon army as they were now called, must have miffed him to say the least as he coined the immortal words 'Sod this for a game of soldiers' and immediately returned to Rome, leaving instructions that a wall be built to 'keep the buggers out'.
OK so I have possibly taken liberties with history, but who is to say that my version is not as plausible as any other that you may come across. The main thing is that Hadrian did in fact order a wall to be built across the entire country from coast to coast and it says much for the Roman craftsmen of the days that the 80 miles long wall was completed in 6 years. It ran from Wallsend-on-Tyne in the east to Bowne
ss-on-Solway in the west. Much of the wall has long since disappeared, but parts of the central portion which runs alongside the B6318 is in relatively good condition, and it is here that the forts and museums are situated.
The height of the wall was some 15 ft and topped with a parapet. It was an extremely sophisticated piece of engineering. For every mile there was a milecastle guarded by at eight men. Between these milecastles were two turrets for sentries who kept watch over the surrounding countryside. Thus the Romans could keep a close watch on the movement of any goods or people crossing their frontier. To the north of the Wall a deep ditch was excavated called the Vallum, and to the south another ditch flanked by mounds of earth. The Vallum was the Roman equivalent of barbed wire, slowing down an attacking force before it reached the wall itself. As building progressed, Roman control was strengthened by the construction of huge forts along the Wall.
It is interesting to note at this point that there were no recorded attempts at breaching the wall, indeed the Northumbrians and the Scots were content to wait until the Romans had tired of playing Bob the Builder and once the legions had bogged off back to Italy, proceeded to dismantle much of the wall and turn the ready made blocks of stone into cowsheds and houses.
Now we bring the story up to date. Not the entire wall was destroyed; in fact most of the route is still visible to this day with parts of the wall in remarkably good condition. The Hadrian's Wall and forts we see today are the last remains of this incredible Roman structure. An estimated 1.25 million people visit Hadrian's Wall each year and visit the ten forts and museums, which are open to the public. As only 5% of the Roman remains been examined so far, it is fair to say that new discoveries will be made for many years to come. The forts and museums are:
ROMAN ARMY MUSEUM
MUSEUM of ANTIQUITIES
It is absolutely impossible to tell you everything that can be seen on a visit to the wall, but I will pick out two of my favourite sites to give you a taste of what you can expect.
The Roman name for Housesteads Fort was Vercovicium, this translates as the "place of the effective fighters". I think they were referring to us don’t you? The fort had massive barracks that accommodated a regiment of some 800 men and the excavations, which can be inspected by the public, include Barracks, Granaries, Hospital, The Commandant's House and the headquarters of the garrison.
Excavations are ongoing but everything is explained down to the smallest detail. Take your time browsing around the ruins. With a little imagination it is possible to reconstruct in your mind the hustle and bustle of the Roman way of life. Sit on the carved stone toilets (they were communal toilets in those days) as thousands of soldiers before you and give thanks to the great God Andrex. Sanitation was uppermost in those days and central heating and bathhouses were taken for granted.
Vindolanda means white lawns or white fields and lies just a few miles south of Hadrian's Wall. It must have been the jewel in the Roman crown in the area. A huge timber courtyard that has been excavated outside the fort is thought to have been Hadrian’s residence during his stay in Britain. Much is known about Vindolanda as valuable wooden tablets were found during the excavations. These tablets provide a rare source of a material, which seldom survived, giving details about private life in the fort.
Here you can see a reconstruction of part of the wall including a gatehouse. This gives you some idea of the immense undertaking that the Romans completed.
admission to the forts and museums vary considerably and details of these and further information of all these sites can be found at www.hadrians-wall.org
To find the wall, leave the M6 at Carlisle and travel east along the A69 to Greenhead. Here take the B6318 and you will find yourself in Hadrian’s Wall countryside. In any case the wall is signposted for miles around and impossible to miss.
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