A history lesson at Vindolanda and Hadrian’s Wall

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Continuing our road trip north, there was one stop we just had to make before leaving England and crossing the border into Scotland.

We HAD to stop to explore Roman Vindolanda and to see Hadrian’s Wall.

Never heard of these? Let me give you a little history lesson…

In 43AD the Roman armies conquered the south of England and formed the first Roman frontier in Britain, and by 77AD they had pushed north of Vindolanda and Carvoran.

In 85AD the first fort was built at Vindolanda, prior to the construction of Hadrian’s wall, which began in 121-122AD.

The wall and fort were essential defence tools in the fight against the British armies as the Romans sought to occupy the lands.

Somewhere between 274-280AD Vindolanda was abandoned, before being re-occupied sometime between 300-410AD.

However that didn’t last long, as the Roman Army officially ceased to exist in Roman Britain as Roman administration withdrew between 410-500AD.

So it’s safe to say there is a rich history at Vindolanda (this quick timeline really doesn’t doesn’t do it justice!).

But it wasn’t until 1831 when Clergyman Anthony Hedley purchased Vindolanda, built a house (which is now part of the modern museum) when (modest) excavations began at the site, allowing this history to be shared with the public.

In the 1970s excavations really ramped up, with the Vindolanda Trust being created.

And it’s all thanks to that action that tourists can now visit the excavated site and learn about the rich history the Roman fort holds.

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Make sure to take a good look around the museum and the gardens – you can’t miss them, as you have to purchase your tickets there and walk through in order to get to the excavation site.

There are many little bits and bobs that have been found at the site which will really catch your eye – such as this haunting room of bones…

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Of course, Hadrian’s Wall isn’t what it used to be.

The parts of it that remain now simply resemble a rock-walled fence that a common sight in the English countryside – so much so that when we were driving towards the wall, I kept saying to Dan “do you think that’s it? What about that one?”

We may have even passed another section of it and not even known.

However, I just had a massive urge to see, to touch, what remained of this amazing structure.

Hadrian’s Wall was a defensive fortification begun in 121-122AD under the rule of emperor Hadrian.

The structure was once 117.5 km long, 3m wide, and between 5-6m high, and was created to “keep the barbarians out”.

Basically, think of the Wall in Game of Thrones and how it was meant to keep the wildlings from north of the wall out – kind of the same thing (but also not).

It was a brilliant arciturtural feat in it’s day, holds a lot of history, and yes, makes me think of GoT.

So I just had to see it.

I also captured one of my favourite photos of all time there. 5 points to Gryffindor if you can guess which one and why 😛

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For more information about Vindolanda, head to this website.

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