Northumberland & Hadrian’s Wall
What is it about Hadrians Wall that excites me enough to produce a MotorBike Adventure film and book about it. Well, for me it is like this;
Just think, you will be riding over ground where nearly 2000 years ago maybe Emperor Hadrian walked himself, or most likely, the sandal covered feet of Roman soldiers have walked. This is not just a theory but a true story that fascinates me.
Let’s delve deeper……..
Hadrian’s Wall is a spectacular World Heritage site, some 73 miles across the narrowest part of England in some of the wildest and most dramatic countryside in England. There are Roman forts and museums along the wall to discover more about the life and times of this Roman occupation on its northern frontier.
But, why did Hadrian choose this part of the country to become the northern edge of his empire? After all his empire spread for literally 1000s of miles and yet he chose this part of the world to be the northern limit.
Here is a thought process that is just my opinion, as mad as it might be, it is just my opinion.
None of us know, it is impossible to know, just how it was for the soldiers and the families that lived around the wall, but what I do know is they saw the same colour sky that is still there, the same colour grass, trees, clouds, they felt the same winds, rains and when it was cold they felt cold.
They started to build a wall in AD122, ordered by Emperor Hadrian who was thousands of miles away, to protect the ‘Britannia Empire’ from the northern ‘barbarians’. There surely could not be many ‘barbarians’ north of Hadrians Wall. Even today there are not that many people north of this wall compared to the south of here.
As first planned, the Wall consisted of a wall of stone or turf fronted by a wide and deep ditch. The original plan was for a guarded gate (milecastle) every mile, (a Roman mile is the same as 1.4 of our miles) with two observation towers (turrets) in between. Before work was completed, 14 new forts were added, together with an earthwork known as the Vallum to the south.
But my thought process is; I believe Hadrian was off his head, he was not a full shilling and he ordered the wall to be built because with his power he could, not because he should – a bit like today with some people in power doing things just to prove they can and not because they should.
The wall took 6 years to build and stayed as the northern wall of the empire for some 300 years.
Not all of the wall was built from stone, part of it was just sticks and mud, but 6 years to build is fascinating because I am sure during that time they must have realised the ‘barbarians’ were not of large numbers, well not large enough to challenge the Roman empire.
Imagine, if you will, being a soldier of the Roman empire and walking your way through Britannia eventually reaching this northernmost point. You are wearing sandals, wearing a skirt and carrying a shield that is so heavy, it beggars belief, how they carried these shields for mile after mile (at some of the forts, now museums, you can get the opportunity to lift a replica shield and discover just how heavy they are). Then you arrive where this wall was built. Imagine also, if you will, walking in those sandals over the terrain surrounding the wall and then building with stone, in all weathers, rain, wind, ice, snow and occasionally sunshine if you are lucky.
First of all, where did they get so much stone?. Secondly, did they just start from one point and build from there or did they do sections joining up as they went along?. Not only this but whilst the wall was being built they would have to place guards against the ‘hoards’ of nasty people trying to kill them (wasn’t that why this wall was built!)?.
Additionally the Romans needed food, shelter, clothes, equipment, and water which for anyone really looking at this amazing accomplishment makes completion almost unbelievable, because it takes years, these days, just to complete several miles of motorway, or a major road resurfacing and as for how long it takes to build a new housing estate, let’s not even go there!!
How did they do it, how did they manage everything in just 6 years in a hostile area of Britain, with terrible weather conditions for most of the year (such as winter) wearing just sandals and leather skirts, living in stick huts and using primitive tools. Considering the wind and rain that lashes this part of the world more often than sunshine…….it must have been hell on earth for some.
If we are to believe all of this took place with normal men and women over a relatively short period of time then for me it is one of the wonders of the world along with the Pyramids. It just simply boggles the mind how it was started, never mind completed.
Then there is the Northumberland Coast & Countryside that is simply breathtaking, with the best beaches of anywhere in Britain and history that will make your toes curl.
Coast and countryside
The north of England is home to stunning scenery and breathtaking areas of mountains, moorlands, woodland, wetland and coastal areas just waiting to be explored.
Northumberland, England’s border county with Scotland, is packed with castles, forts and country houses for you to discover, telling the tale of the county’s turbulent 2,000-year history.
A drive up the Northumberland coast offers some of the most stunning views in England. Make a pilgrimage across the causeway to Holy Island and follow in the footsteps of ancient monks who built their priory there nearly 1,400 years ago. Discover the island’s grisly past and the Viking raids, the cult of St Cuthbert and the beautiful medieval manuscript the Lindisfarne Gospels. Make sure you check the tide times though as the island is cut off from the mainland twice a day by the rising North Sea.
With its clean air and dark skies, the Northumberland National park stretching over 400 square miles of amazing landscape, covers almost a quarter of the county and is one of the least populated of the UK’s national parks. A place for adventure or relaxation, you can be as active, or laid back as you like! Discover secluded and unspoiled countryside, dramatic valleys and gorgeous villages. Nightfall brings the incredible experience of some of the UK’s darkest skies. Head to Kielder Observatory for a magical night under the stars.
YOU can see about MotorBike Tours of Cumbria Lake District right HERE
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