End of an Empire

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

In the era of discount domestic flights, travellers to England (even on very short trips) now have few excuses for venturing outside of London.

On our recent trip to Europe we had a few days in London, so I dragged my partner to England's very north. Northumberland County (which borders Scotland) happens to be where my grandfather was born and raised, and also home to Hadrian's Wall.

(Housetead’s Fort – particularly isolated)

Spanning 118 kilometres across some of Britain’s most beautiful countryside, Hadrian’s Wall once represented the Roman Empire's power in Britain. 2000 years and a UNESCO World Heritage listing later, Hadrian's Wall continues to serve as a brilliant monument to one of the world’s greatest civilisations.

Sadly, we didn't have enough time to walk the length of the wall (there were many other things on my Northumberland to do list), so we headed straight to Houseteads. We ventured here because it is the best preserved of all the outposts along the wall, and provides the best insight into how the Romans lived.

Of course, England turned on its best weather as we were approaching – drizzling rain and a strong wind made it bitterly cold out on the fort. Not that the weather was going to deter me. I was thankful for my waterproof pants and shoes and gortex jacket that the Romans certainly never had.

The museum at the site provides a short historical over-view, which helps put what you are about to see into context. Using some imagination and the help of signs posted around the fort, it is possible to imagine how the Romans lived during their time in Britain (Houseteads is believed to have been built around AD124).

(Signs help explain what you are looking at. This was a particularly impressive piece of engineering).

Sadly, it was far too cold to let the mind wander for too long. Within half an hour we were frozen to the core and it was time for the 10 minute walk back to the car to defrost in that wonderful invention – air-conditioning.