Hadrian’s Wall stretched coast to coast across Cumbria and Northumberland and formed the north-western frontier of the Roman Empire for almost 300 years. This year marks its 1,900th anniversary: Emperor Hadrian came to Britain to build it in AD 122, says Sean Newsom in The times.
Although parts of the wall have been lost over the centuries, their remains are still visible along significant stretches, and archaeological finds in recent years have shed light on the lives of their inhabitants. A single day isn’t enough to do it justice, so take a long weekend and build up near its central section.
Once a main supply center, the ancient town of Corbridge has a museum of unearthed remains including two ‘mighty’ granaries and a water trough with U-shaped depressions formed by scores of people leaning in to fill their buckets.
But the Wall’s greatest “archaeological marvel” is the Fortress of Vindolanda, where common objects such as wooden loo seats and nailed boots have been found perfectly preserved in the wet, evacuated clay, along with writing tablets of the type routinely used by the Roman army, but which have rotted elsewhere. You can read about plans for birthday parties and turnip orders.
Today food is easier to come by in these areas – and some of it is excellent. You can stay at Hjem, a Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms, and taste the ‘melting-in-the-mouth’ lamb at Matfen Hall Hotel.
But there’s a touch of asceticism involved on a trip like this: try a long walk along the wall to “get a taste of its harshness as it coasters down the cliffs”; and visit Housesteads Fort, which gives a glimpse of “the frontier as everyone imagines it – high, remote and tormented by an almost continuous wind”; This was a “ruthless” deployment, if there ever was one.
https://www.theweek.co.uk/arts-life/travel/956751/walking-into-past-hadrians-wall Trip of the week: Walk back in time on Hadrian’s Wall