Bill and I were exhausted walking all over Lindisfarne Island and then up and down Bamburgh Castle. The sun doesn’t set in England right now until after 9:00 p.m. As we headed towards Durham and our hotel for the night I suggested to Bill that we visit Hadrian’s Wall. Bill has traveled extensively in the UK but never seen Hadrian’s Wall. For a lover of Roman history it is required viewing. Reluctantly he said ok as he is definitely a trooper but his legs and feet hurt as did mine. As we approached the youthful enthusiasm returned as I saw Bill searching for the wall in the distance as I drove through the beautiful hills of northern England.
We stopped by the National Trust site which is where they give guided tours. They were closing of course and we found out what time they opened in the morning. Bill was disappointed by now so I decided I would find part of the wall for him to climb. From my first trip last fall I remembered an area nearby. We parked the car on the side of the road and started walking – although we couldn’t see the wall for the hills I had a good idea where it was.
We walked down a country lane about a mile and then I saw it on top of a hill. Only sections remain as over the centuries people have used the stones to build houses, roads and fences. You can also see stones littered about both sides of the wall on the ground buried now in the dirt by time and weather. We went up the hill towards the remnant. Our knees ached so bad from the long day that we felt like there were knives digging into them. My feet hurt but no way I was going to miss Hadrian’s Wall on this lovely, clear day which is very unusual for England.
We made it and Bill got to see the beautiful site. For those who have never seen the Wall it is amazing that 2,000 years ago Romans built a wall that averaged 13 feet high and 8 feet wide across 60 miles of open land. In addition there were forts and living quarters along the walls whose remains can be seen today. Part of the beauty of the wall is how it was built on hills – it appears like the spine of the landscape and as it snakes its way across the highest ridges. To stand on the remnant of that wall and look over the land that even the Romans were unable to conquer is breathtaking.
More about the Romans at some other time but we are still significantly influenced by this empire that died almost 2,000 years ago. Its engineering, values, roads, architecture, legal system, etc. After the fall of the Roman Empire came the dark ages where mankind actually moved backwards in terms of technology and living standards. Under Roman rule there was largely peace and prosperity but the next 1500 years Europe fell into war, famine and disease. How the Romans were able to accomplish this is one of more interesting things I have discovered on my journey through the UK.