Saturday, 26 March 2016

Scotland smashed and crumpled England

Several millions of years ago Scotland decided to leave America racing across the North Atlantic before making a 90° turn and smashing into England severely crumpling her.  Roll the clock back 1900 years from today and a senior one of these arrived in the area.

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He looked north and decided there was nothing of any real value in Scotland apart from some uncouth and wild undesirables (Scots readers might disagree).  The best way to keep the riffraff out was to build a wall.  Being a clever fellow he made use of those natural high and sharp ridges running across the original collision point.

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There is little point in having a barrier unless you are prepared to occupy it (something the Australian Army failed to do in Vietnam).  So General Hadrian (later Emperor Hadrian) had forts built along the wall in strategic locations.  The forts had multiple purposes.  They accommodated the soldiers manning the wall, controlled the access points through the wall and enabled trade taxes to be collected.  The total length of the wall is 73 miles and there was a fort every 5 miles.

Today we visited Housesteads Roman Fort which is owned by the National Trust and managed by English Heritage.  The fort was constructed and occupied Roman Auxillaries. 

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Remains of the legionnaires barracks

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The wall heads of east towards Newcastle.

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The were four gates into the fort.  The above is the West Gate.

Apparently the wall had a width of between 2.5 and 1.8 metres.  Near the fort the remains of the current wall is probably less than one metre wide.

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I have a sneaky suspicion the remains of these walls may have been “improved” by some of the owners during the Victorian period, when visiting such antiquities became very popular. 

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I’m reminded of my walk along the Great Wall of China.  The section the tourists visited was in reasonable condition whereas the section I walked was crumbling away from time and neglect. 

But the visit was interesting, and who knows; the English may yet again need it to keep out independent and marauding scots. Smile

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