Today we had our first “day off” with nothing official planned from the syllabus. Myself, along with Prem, Victoria, and Sam (field school alumnus joining us this week), took the opportunity to explore the East Coat of England by the North Sea. Here are a couple of my personal highlights from the day.
1. The Roman sword with the preserved bone handle still in tact: This was at the Hadrian’s Cavalry exhibit at Wallsend Fort
2. My delicious veggie pita at Tynemouth Market: a quaint little market set up right on the platform of the metro station and we explored the various booths for a little part of the afternoon
3. Tynemouth Priory and Castle: the view was just incredible and it was enlightening to see how England’s more modern history is displayed and remembered.
4. Cartwheels on the beach: some of us more experienced than others
Today was particularly memorable for me because it was nice to switch gears a little bit from Roman wall/fort history to a taste of a new side of England’s heritage. I definitely appreciated the stop at Tynemouth Priory and Castle. This settlement has a very long history extending back two thousand years beginning as an Anglo-Saxon settlement, becoming an Anglican monastery, royal castle, artillery fort, and coastal defence. It is incredible to see the architectural development, changes, and modifications made throughout the years which are clearly still visible in the remains today. During World War Two, much of the monastery was destroyed in order to turn the site into a military coastal defence. We were all pretty amazed at how the fort had been modified through the years and repurposed for current requirements. We learned all this week about how the Romans repurposed their previous buildings, but today’s example of a building being modified for the second world war still hits close to home considering there are still surviving veterans and victims. It makes what is an ancient practice, more relatable because we can see how it takes place contemporarily. Additionally I think it was a great experience to explore a different city for the day, expose ourselves to culture, and simply let loose and relax, not to mention taste test all the wonders of the British world. For example, look at the amazing ice cream we got at the end of the day!