Wednesday, June 17, 2009
This is the view from Housesteads Fort on Hadrian's Wall. The panorama is absolutely stunning and you can imagine a lonely Roman soldier loooking out over the miles of forest and hills waiting for the hostile and barbarian Picts to come charging in for the attack. We went along Hadrian's wall on a hot, sunny June day, so the Roman soldier would have been happy with the weather, a break from the cold northern winds, grey skies and endless rain, but the locals were mostly hostile this far north, although there were local villages attached to most of the forts where the local traders and other lived.
This is Chesters fort which is the most complete cavalry barracks left. This view is from the river up towards the bath houses. Each fort had latrines which drained into the river, bath houses with hypocausts - ie modern bathrooms. Pretty neat really. In fact the bathhouses may have been better than the very odd shower in the first cottage we stayed in.
The shower was one of those with a tap adapter, but no wall attachment, so that when you moved the height of the shower it got VERY hot or cold suddenly, so washing my hair turned into a two person job with B acting as the shower holder. We got the hang of it by the end of the week when we were leaving.
This is some of the drainage from the latrines and bathroom. You have to think that there will be very little of our drain systems in 2000 years. The London sewers were built in the 1850s and are already in a dire state in some places and in real need of some of the drains being completely replaced. At the time they were the pinnacle of engineering and Bazelgette, who designed them, was a genius in the way he got the gravity feeds to work over such a large area to drain the system towards the rivers. Yet the Romans had done it all way before and the system lasted much,much longer. We still don't know how they did all the things they did do which I find astonishing.
And finally these are some of the barracks. Each soldier had one of these rooms which are actually pretty spacious. I was surprised how roomy they actually were . The rooms faced each other over a colonaded central area with a drain running down the middle.
We had a fascinating day looking at the remains at Hadrian's wall and although we didn't get to Vindolana which is the other one we really wanted to see we still saw a lot, and it was one of the things on my list of things to see in Northumberland.
We had a brilliant holiday, and I saw lots of things in Northumberland that I really did want to see, so I shall roll them out to you in installments, sharing them gradually, as we saw them on holiday.