Hello again! My first impressions after landing in Northern England was that England was very green and dotted with numerous sheep, and this was confirmed today during our first big adventure: visiting the Housesteads Fort and hiking Hadrian’s wall. We started our day bright and early with a tour of the Housesteads museum and fort. One of our first challenges today was to identify what caused these indentations/holes in a wall were. We were stumped: do you want to try and identify them? (Comment with your best guesses and we’ll reveal the answers tomorrow!)
One of the things I enjoyed seeing the most about the fort at Housesteads was the small details from daily life that made the site more personal (and I’m sure we’ll see more of that once we start excavating at Vindolanda proper). One example of this was a hole and ditch in one of the stones at the entrance to the site; the wearing of the stone here shows where the original gate to the site was located. Such a small, almost mundane detail is what brings these sites to life for me.
The next stage of our adventure was our approximately 12.6 km hike along Hadrian’s Wall- or 18 000 steps or 96 flights of stairs according to Aline’s iPhone health app. This hike showed us the gorgeous landscapes of northern rural England, including sheep, forests, lakes, cliffs, and rolling hills.
In addition to this diverse splendor of natural beauty, we saw Hadrian’s wall, milecastles, and turrets. What I found astounding was the sheer extent of the ruins. This was visible in both the thickness of the milecastle walls (approximately 8-10 feet thick), and the length of Hadrian’s wall over the landscape.
At the end of the day, we had our first taste of Roman forts and our first glimpse’s of England’s beauty. We also had our personal triumph over the tremendous hills and valleys, reached the highest point on Hadrian’s wall, and had a successful first adventure. Make sure to stay updated for the answers to our earlier question!