One of the most amazing spots in all of the UK is the Lake District, just near us in southwest Cumbria. The spectacular scenery, the hills jutting to the sky, the waterfalls…and the Hardknott Pass! And, of course, the Romans have been there. Around the same time as Hadrian fortified the frontier with his wall, he also bolstered the defenses from the coast at Ravenglass through the Hardknott pass to Ambleside in what is now the Lake District. This is some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere, so we couldn’t resist getting out the Western flag just about everywhere!
We approached the day chronologically and started at a stone circle called Castlerigg. This picture doesn’t really capture this incredible spot, but here goes…a 4,500-year-old stone circle.
The real point of the day was to go to Hardknott Roman fort, the most dramatic fort in all of Britain, and one of the most well excavated outside of Hadrian’s Wall and Vindolanda. The fort guarded the road that came up from the west coast through the hills northward. I’m going to put a little suspense in here to give you the idea of approaching this amazing landscape. Here’s the road we took to get to the fort:
Here we are at the top of this part of this part of the pass. Absolutely amazing!
Here is the ultimate destination of the day–the Roman fort at Hardknott. We are approaching it here from above, coming back down the pass. On a really nice day you can see all the way out to the coast. It’s here that one realizes how totally remarkable the Romans were. They are not messing around up here!
Here’s the crew standing in the angle tower of the northeast corner of the fort. The walls were found almost this high back in the 1890s when they first did excavation. Alicia gave us an epic presentation on the fort while we were there.
This flat space next to the fort is the Parade Ground. In order to get a level ground here the troops brought in 5000 cubic meters of soil!
The crew does an ad locutio pose (the emperor’s fancy way of showing he is addressing a crowd) on top of the tribunal above the parade ground. This is where the commander and other big wigs would address the soldiers.
Can you believe this day?! I think everyone considers this one of the highlights of the Field School so far (among many other things, naturally), despite the ‘exhilerating’ drive up the Hardknott pass. If you’re ever visiting northern England be sure to make this a stop. It is incredible! Ask any of us for must-see advice on the area.