Sunday, September 17, 2017

Friday at Hadrian's Wall

This past Friday, I went to Hadrian's Wall.  I went up to Newcastle upon Tyne on Thursday evening, and stayed at one of those hotels that's totally confusing.  It's sort of hidden away (I found it by chance), and then it's labyrinthian inside.  You go up a flight, down a half flight, over, up another two flights, and so on.  But my room was roomy and comfortable, with windows that opened and good drapes, and a comfortable bed.

The best way I could figure out was to take a train from Newcastle to Hexham, and from the train station bus stop there, get on a bus that goes out to Haltwhistle, stopping along the way a bunch.  I got a day pass for about 12 quid, and off I went.

My first stop was at Chesters Roman Fort.  I bought myself a membership in English Heritage for 54 quid.  Let's see if it's worth it for the length of my visit.  (6.60 pounds entry at Chesters.)

 The River Tyne, looking upstream (north).
 The River Tyne, looking downstream (south)
 Roman Baths.  When I'd done walking around, I asked at the information desk about the ruins.  I was thinking that they'd sort of been rebuilt, with modern cement and such.  But no, what's there has been dug up, but the cement is Roman.  And the structures are what survived (partly covered with erosion and such over time).  This blows me away.
 A phallic symbol in the main courtyard.  Naturally.
 So this vault, this has survived for about 2000 years.  Mind blown.
 Early under-floor heating set up.  (I saw this sort of thing when I was in Bath, in 2011, but still, way cool!)
So that was Chesters Roman Fort.  Really interesting!  Well worth a visit.

Then I got back on the bus and went to Housesteads Roman Fort (7.5 pounds).  Maybe even cooler than Chesters Roman Fort.  At any rate, right up there!

 I saw this beautiful butterfly warming itself in the sun.
 Gorgeous scenes!  Big big walls!
 The latrines!  Probably an 8 on my scale when they still worked.  Really interesting!
 More wall, landscape!
 It's like you can see and see a long way!
 Clouds looming.  It drizzled a little, but only a little.
 This sheep was eating on its knees.  It looked fine, but was eating on its knees.
I went out to wait for the bus, and saw a couple of birds, which I've posted on a facebook group for help identifying.

Then I got back on the bus; the day was running down, and I needed to choose between Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum.  I chose the museum and was amused by this sign:
 The Roman Army Museum was so so.  Maybe I was just tired, but it seemed aimed at kids more than adults, and reminded me of the Viking museum at York, but less full in some ways.

Finally, I took the bus all the way back to the train station at Hexham, and headed back to Newcastle.
All in all, this was a really interesting day out!


  1. How tall is Hadrian's Wall? I've seen a lot of pics, but none with anyone standing next to them to show the scale. Like, does it reach over your head, or up to your shoulders, or what?

    1. I think parts are taller than me, other parts not. It's not all extant, but in the shots here, it's easily 3 feet wide, maybe 4, so that will give you an idea of the size of the stones.

    2. Thanks!

      I love the phallic carving, btw! SO Roman.

  2. Thanks for this post and for the pictures--and especially for the logistical details about how to get there, something about which I always have a consuming curiosity.

  3. Cool! I've been to Housesteads. Delagar, in parts some of the Roman walls are ten feet tall or more, but it depends on what's been pulled down by people who used the stones to build houses, what's been eroded by time and water, and what has survived intact.

    It is my ambition someday to walk the length of Hadrian's Wall.

    Labyrinthine British hotels! I swear they think hotels are supposed to be like that. Last summer I stayed in a very modern, purpose-built, motorway-side hotel built in a flat area (a Premier Inn: the beds really are as good as the advertising promises!). Partway down the central corridor (one flight up) was a little jog and a couple of steps down. I could work out no purpose at all for this, except to pay homage to the idea that hotels ought all to be converted Stately Homes with odd nooks and crannies.

    1. You mean they SHOULDN'T??

      (I reckon there are secret staff passages hidden away in those wierd little jogged bits in hyper modern hotels...)

      And yes, Premier Inn Beds are really what they say on the advert...

      Vindolanda and Birdoswald are both good, and the views of the wall in the middle bit around Vindolanda (from the Steel Rigg car park) are amazing...

  4. The bird, by the way, is a Chaffinch.