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My impressions of Hadrian’s wall have been based on pictures seen in history books, therefore I was expecting to see a long mound of dirt spreading out across the stretch of land across Northumbria, from West to East………how completely wrong I was! Sadly there are few sections of the wall intact across its 73 miles due to the pillaging of the stones for a variety of constructions and purposes over the centuries. However, imagine a massive construction 4 metres high, 1.5 metres thick, with a ‘Mile castle’ (Roman miles were 1.6 miles) standing 10 metres high every ‘mile’ and 2 turret towers between each mile castle for the entire length, from coast to coast! There were also numerous forts incorporated into the wall, that housed legions of ‘auxiliary’ soldiers who manned the wall. Very few of the soldiers were Roman, most were imports from areas of the Roman Empire and eventually from within the local population.

Visited the Walltarn Crags which are adjacent to the quarries from which the stones for Hadrian’s Wall were hewn. Here the wall follows the contours of the hill’s ridge, snaking along the landscape.

Noelene’s Fascination with Lavs!

After a delicious evening meal, a restful night’s sleep and a wonderfully filling breakfast at the Manor Inn Hotel, we explored the local area around Carterway Heads. At Chester’s Roman fort, there was a hall filled with archaeological remnants rescued from the Roman era. Statues, plaques, inscriptions, grave stones and dedications are on display, along with translations and explanations. It seems Noelene has developed a fascination for Roman lavatories, or more specifically, their plumbing systems, as it seems to be her focus whenever we arrive at another Roman site. Corbridge Roman Town (also had lavs) but was different from what we had previously seen, as the Roman ruins have been of forts associated with Hadrian’s Wall. As it was a township that grew up around the barracks of a Roman post and as would be expected there were roads, shops, fountains, stores and government buildings within the site. The Romans seemed to follow the same pattern with their forts and always had drainage and brought in water. They were able to heat buildings with under floor heating and the water for their bath houses…very well organized.

A leap forward of several centuries and we arrived at Dalsey Hall which began its life as a small castle but was extended and altered to become a Jacobean Mansion. Its design was quasi Greco inspired by the owner’s trip to Greece in the early 1800s. The coat of arms includes the mysterious ‘Wild Man’ representing the spirit of new ideas and breaking new ground. Surrounding the mansion are the most beautiful and immaculate gardens incorporating a croquet lawn, water features and use of the remaining quarry to create walls of gardens with its own microclimate.

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