Sunday, January 20

Hadrian's Wall

In AD122 Roman Emperor Hadrian visited the province of Britannia, the northern-most edge of his vast and sprawling empire. Following his visit, an order went out to build a defensive wall along the province's northern border. Hadrian was keen to secure his Empire from raids by neighbouring Pictish tribes. Construction of Hadrian's Wall took eight years. Upon completion, a remarkable stone and turf structure stretched more than 117 kilometres, coast to coast.

I’ve always wanted to see Hadrian's Wall for myself. As a child I was fascinated by the concept of building a barrier across an entire nation. On January 2 I finally had my opportunity. While making our way towards Scotland Garry and I spent a night near Hexham, less than five kilometres from Hadrian’s Wall. We naturally made plans for at least one short diversion. Earlier research had also revealed that most of the wall’s best preserved sections were located in the immediate area.

A short drive soon found us passing through rolling countryside where jagged sections of the wall could be seen tracing the skyline of a nearby ridge. We eventually turned off the highway onto a narrow, winding lane. As we crested a low rise we suddenly found ourselves face to face with a broad stone wall snaking boldly across the landscape. The view was breath-taking. A metre-wide wall flowed down a sodden grassy slope, dipped into a small vale before climbing a dramatic, rocky outcrop.

Garry and I parked the car and braved a bitter, howling wind to wander a short length of the wall. At we stood in the damp grass, surveying this bone-chilling and desolate construction, I couldn’t help but marvel at its presence. Here we were, standing at the very edge of the ancient Roman Empire, witnessing the endurance of history itself.

1 comment:

Rhonda said...

We probably passed over or went near to Hadrian's Wall without, regretably, thinking about it. I'm sure it was a great sight, sorry we missed it,