HADRIAN’S WALL TOUR
Thankfully today was a bright sunny day with the outlook very warm. The past three days weather consisted of nothing but rain or drissle and we we needed a better day as all my venues were outdoors.
Arriving at the cruise terminal I met with two other driver’s from Newcastle Chauffeur Cars, James who was touring Northumberland with six passengers visiting Lindisfarne, Bamburgh and Alnwick castles. Michael touring Newcastle, Beamish museum and Durham cathedral. This was the cruise ship Disney Magic’s first visit to the Tyne and the pickup up area was getting pretty buisy with coaches, cars and minibusses, our clients however had no problem in finding as we were waiting close to the passenger exit point clutching our name boards and greeting them with handshake and a smile. Our start point on this particular tour was to be Cawfields about an hours drive out and situated close to Hadrian’s Wall, the quarry dating back to 1902 and cutting through Hadrian’s wall near Milecastle 42 is disused and water filled offering a haven for wildlife and is very scenic in its own right. Milecastle’s constructed by the second legion ( Legio II Augusta) were small forts set at 1 roman mile apart with stone walls up to 10 feet thick and around 20 feet high, they were checkpoints controlling the flow of people goods and livestock and also used as a taxation point on that traffic. There were 80 along the length of the wall manned by 20 to 30 soldiers with additional manned turrets either at side . Milecastle 42 is one of the best preserved most scenic locations and only a short walk from cawfields car park. Standing at the peak looking down at the Milecastle it’s easy to understand just why this is one of the most photographed locations along the wall and being there before the crowds ensured my passengers had the time to enjoy the tranquil peace and reflect on how life must have been for a Roman soldier posted at one of the most distant outposts in the empire. From there we moved onto our next venue at Vindolanda. If he Milecastles were where the soldiers worked then vindolanda was place where the soldiers came to spend their money (denarius) a coin originally worth 10 asses but later increased to in value to 16). Amongst the most popular pastimes in which a Roman soldier would spend his pay would be bathing and gambling. Vindolanda was regarded as a home from home by the soldiers and their families, visitors to the site can see how military and domestic life on the edge of the empire would have been and also the influence this would have had on the British tribes with beautiful clothes, shoes, jewelry and exotic goods and a multi faith society life in Roman Britain must have been an attractive alternative to a tribal life on the outside.
It was around midday when my clients decided to break for lunch, I earlier had suggested a suitable lunch break at the Twice brewed inn, a cosy and welcoming establishment offering a good selection of ales and traditional pub food located next to Vindolanda.
After lunch the clients had decided to go to Corbridge (Coria or Corchester) lying just 18 miles to the west of Newcastle used to be a supply town for the troops on Hadrian’s wall the new town now renowned for its attractive streets and small boutique shops as well as old traditional English Inn’s. One of
Coria’s most valuable finds the Corbridge Hoard – a time capsule dating back almost 2,000 years found in remarkable condition inside an Iron bound leather covered wooden chest containing a typical roman soldiers possessions,weaponry, armor,tools,papyrus and wax writing tablets.