UK Road trip. Day Five. Hadrian's Wall.

It started just like any other day... is a good intro to a mystery or crime novel, but not really to this post. That's basically because this day didn't start like any other. Instead of waking up in my bed in Perth, I woke up in a motorhome on a farm/caravan park in northern England. Fortunately I had been waking up in a motorhome for the past few days so I didn't wake up screaming, not knowing where I was. That would have meant turning this potential mystery novel into some kind of science-fiction horror.

We have some idea of where we are in the world.

If there was any kind of novel genre or something to sum this day up then it probably would have been one to do with history. Like yesterday's castle stop over, the main stop today would be ruins. The only thing was that these runs would be almost two thousand years old, and formed part of a wall built by the Romans.

I'm a bit of a history geek so I think that sounds pretty cool.

A quick comparison with Australia: we don't have anything like this. The Romans didn't invade back in 0 AD. The only invasion was back in the late 18th century, and lots of the buildings that we've seen in Europe were built before that. So most of our history isn't inscribed in stone buildings and Roman walls but in the land and the effect that Australia's owners have had on the land. By that I refer to the various nations of indigenous Australians that have lived here for millennia. These guys were pretty smart though and lead a sustainable lifestyle with little visible impact on the earth other than art and tools scattered around popular spots. Therefore Australia doesn't have history in the same terms as Europe, which has been recording its history through writings and architecture for centuries.

A summation of that would be, we don't have anything remotely like this in Australia:

Some of what is left of Hadrian's wall.

You might be wondering what this wall is, so here's a short bit of history for you. The wall was built in 122 AD by the Romans in order to keep the northern Britannia tribes out of Rome's provinces in England. In saying that, this has been disputed by historians and the wall may simply have been a symbol of Roman power or a customs point.

Nevertheless, the wall, which stretches almost 120 kilometres across a narrow stretch of northern England, it is a great example of Roman engineering skills. The fact that some of it still stands speaks volumes, if you listen closely enough.

More so, it kind of gives an idea of just how far Rome expanded its borders - a physical wall is better proof than a line on a map. In case you were wondering, the name of the structure comes from the man who was emperor at the time - Wall Caesar. Just joking, his name was Hadrian.

So that's a brief history of the wall as it stands. Pardon the pun.

The place we visited the wall was Housesteads fort about half way along it (see the map at the top of this post). Here a well preserved part of the wall is to be found near the outlines an old Roman fort. It's well worth the visit if you're heading up or down from Scotland, whose border stretches between a few kilometres (in the west) to over a hundred (in the east) from the wall.

Well you probably came here for the photos rather than bad puns and a history lesson, so here they are. Most, if not all of them were edited with VSCO film to look like Kodak Gold 100 film. Hope you like them.

Exploring part of the fort. Now either Sam should have been a model, or I should have been a photographer.

You can walk on top of part of the wall from near the fort.

If you keep walking you will find this, which had the words "Milecastle 13" inscribed on it. Well it may not have been "13" - I can't quite remember - but it was something like that.

As much as we were there for the wall and the fort, the elevated position that they were at gave great views of the surrounding countryside.

I like that tree. That's a niiice tree.

The outside of the Housesteads fort.

The museum building thing. There were some displays and a video presentation inside.

Farms surround the fort and wall, indeed many of the older buildings around the place would have been built using stone taken from the wall.

After finding our way to the wall, we headed back the way we came before getting back on route to Scotland. We made it as far as a caravan park near Belford, some twenty miles south of the Scottish border. Tomorrow I will make it into my sixth country ever. To be continued...

JR

Joel Gibson

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Perth, Western Australia

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