Saturday, October 15, 2016

Hadrian's Wall

Pictures to come.....

Hadrian's wall extends across the whole of England from the East coast at Wellsend to the West coast at the Solway Firth. It is one of the most endearing remnants of the Roman Empire still in existence today. People travel from all over the world to see it for themselves... some trek the distance from one end to the other, hiking the whole 73 miles of the wall.

In places it is in tatters, and bits and pieces have been used over the centuries to build walls, homes, and even to repair churches, abbeys and even sheep pens...but  the wall still stands as a proud reminder that at one time, the Roman Empire did exist in full force in Northern England. It is a common misconception that it was built when the Romans first invaded the area, but they had been present for over 50 years before the beginning of the wall's construction.

Another misconception is that the wall is the border between England and Scotland, most of Northumberland is North of the wall... and for hundreds of years, the border moved back and forth from one side to the other.  Rome was a huge presence in what is now Scotland, and after only 25 years, another wall was built further North in Scotland, this was the

Though it is thought that the wall was just to keep those pesky Celts out... the renegades that were thought to be fierce, dirty and unstoppable... the wall was not very high in many places, and the remnants of gates and road beds show that there was constant travel in and out of the wall, especially at Housesteads. Deep ruts are worn into the stone showing that wagons passed constantly through the gates.

The museum at Housesteads holds many artifacts that belonged to Romans, including pieces of stone metal and

Hadrian's wall has been listed as a World Heritage Site since 1987, and has had an illustrious beginning at the order of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and after 6 grueling years of building,  in 122AD  it is recorded that Hadrian himself inspected the wall.

Roman soldiers were sent to the great wall for duty, but not just the wall itself, as there are Milecastles from the end of the wall on the Solway Firth, stretching to Maryport, where Roman soldiers would be posted to keep watch on the coastline. The Milecastles are rather odd in shape, being round and much like a

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol, England

When you visit England, there are just some places that you need to see. Westminster Abbey, Parliament, St. Paul's Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Oxford, Bath,  Portmeirion, Minster at York, The Llandoger Trow, and all of Scotland!  But to me, there are some places that you miss out on, simply because they are utilitarian and not an actual "tourist attraction".
The bridge at Bristol, England is much in that category, yet so filled with history.
The Clifton Suspension Bridge was built in

Here's a snippet from their site: ..."In 1754 William Vick, a wealthy Bristol wine merchant left money to fund the erection of a stone bridge across the Avon Gorge at Clifton. Realising that cost of building a stone bridge would be exorbitantly high, the bridge committee petitioned parliament for permission to change Vick’s bequest. This allowed for the completion of an iron suspension bridge and for the collection of tolls to fund its upkeep and maintenance.
A competition was launched to find an engineer to design the bridge. Following a second competition Brunel was initially awarded second place but was able to convince the committee to award him the commission on 16th March 1831.
Brunel wrote to his brother-in-law stating: "I have to say that of all the wonderful feats I have performed since I have been in this part of the world, I think yesterday I performed the most wonderful. I produced unanimity amongst fifteen men who were quarrelling about the most ticklish subject – taste."
Though the piers were completed in 1840 by 1843 all available funds had been exhausted and Brunel was ordered to cease all works on the project. Brunel died on the 15th September of that same year. In response to his death, a company was formed and a sum of £35,000 raised to complete the bridge in his memory. Engineers William Henry Barlow and Sir John Hawkshaw were employed to finish the bridge at Clifton to a revised design which eliminated many of Brunel’s proposed ‘Egyptian’ elements. The bridge was finally completed in 1864."...

For a bridge to be built so long ago, and with such technology that we deem to be ancient, this is a magnificent bridge. It is used daily as a commute across the gorge, and attracts thousands of sight seekers and photographers.

 If I may suggest, see the bridge in the day and the evening. When we went in the daytime, there were a lot of people and cars, it was hard to get good pictures, but in the evening it was quieter and not so much foot traffic. Some of these pictures were taken at around 11 pm. Still light enough to take photos, but late enough to be out of traffic.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Carlisle Castle

   I've been to several castles in England and Scotland, and some just look like Manor Houses, not like what you would think of a castle... I think of moats, drawbridges or at least a portcullis and a keep...
   Carlisle Castle is more what you would think a castle would look like, though it is not what it looked like 850 years ago. There is a small area that is from that time period, but most has been made over, renovate, rejuvenated, used, reused, and gone through at least two major sieges.. well, it's stood up well over time I think...

The castle began it's life in the 12th century, with a keep and defenses. However, after excavations, the site has been determined to have also been a Norman Castle, and theAD 72, large Roman fort, built of turf and timber, that was established that provided support for garrisons of Hadrian's wall. Also it was a staging point for troops that would invade Scotland...and was the site for Roman civilian settlement of Luguvalium.

The living quarters in this modern day castle are spartan, one can imagine the tapestries and rugs that once adorned the walls and floors, and magnificent furniture that once graced the rooms. But it is very sad that it is bare, save a few banners that have been hung for educational purposes.
Though the castle has seen it's share of hard times, with the siege of 1135, and  of 1644 through 1645, and the siege of 1745-6, stripping it of it's splendor and wrecking parts of the interior, it still survives.

The television series Outlander has made popular the strife between the Scots and the English. The fighting between the two has been in and around this area, with one of the most famous fights at the Sollome Moffs, or Solway Moss...24th November, 1542. the fights between the Scots and English were notorious...During the Jacobite Rebellion, Carlisle was home to some 16,000 troops. The 15th Novemer, 1745, the city surrendered to the Scots, with an agreement that the defenders lay down arms and not fight the Jacobites for one year.

The land in the borders were debatable as to who owned it.  The town of Carlisle, the Castle Carlisle, was owned back and forth between the two. The town, since the early first century AD, has been caught in the middle so to speak.

The battle of Solway Moss is very interesting, since James V was not actually present, due to an illness that ended his life only a fortnight later, leaving Mary, his infant daughter as the Queen.  This is terribly interesting, since Mary, only twenty some odd years later would be held in Castle Carlisle, prisoner of her cousin Elizabeth I.

There is a room within, that has bars for keeping prisoners, not the famous rooms that once kept Mary, Queen of Scots for a fortnight, but a small cell that held captives, who used the walls for their graffiti... still readable.

I love the way the sandstone has worn over the years. Today, it is rarely used for architectural purposes, only for decorative parts of buildings since it is such a soft rock, but so many of the abbeys, castles, and homes have been made using this beautiful stone.

Down in the belly of the castle, the dungeons

 When you see the iron bar doors, you can imagine the feeling of desperation, of panic of being locked up. The doors to the dungeons were made of solid wood with ironwork, so the feeling would probably be even worse. Not being able to see what was going on, what was outside your cell... yikes!

I find the architecture to be so wonderful, here you see the fireplace, but around it is a full archway, was this used as a full fireplace? Or was this part of another room that was shaped totally different and was later added into this room?
 Part of the castle that has been restored to what it might have looked like during Medieval England. School Children come here to learn about the castle. How great is that? living in the shadow of a castle?

 Some hunting within the castle walls to find hidden rooms, doorways that have been covered over and possibly, bits of Roman architecture, left over from the occupation of England by the Romans.
 The excavations within the castle are showing architectural bits that have been covered over for centuries.
There are bits and pieces from the older part of the castle that might surprise you. This, for instance is a piece of Roman architecture, thought to be an alter piece, used as a building block for the interior wall.
It is not uncommon to see bits and pieces of Hadrian's Wall used in fencing, buildings, bridges...
 A bit of a close up to see the writing on this piece. It is a dedication. You can see the faces carved into the piece.

What a shame it was lost to scavenging, but it is wonderful that it has been preserved for such a long time, out of the elements, built into this wall. This piece is dated to around 213AD.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Walking near Silloth

 Taking a walk daily helps to clear the mind and stretch the muscles, especially when you are sitting in a vehicle for hours on end, driving from what seemed one end of Great Britain to the other.

These little calves were our across the road neighbors. The farmer moved them in one day and they were quite quiet until my son got them to start eating out of his hand. He took them little treats and they started meeting him with loud bawling.

The little fellow with his mouth open was one of the loudest of the bunch! He didn't want to come close though, bawled like he was telling on the other calves!

The lane in front of the cottage, at the end is Coldmire Road. I don't actually know what this road is actually called. I don't know that it really has a name. It is never named on street signs... and the address is not a street, but the name of the cottage. If you turn the opposite direction, you go to Abbeytown.

This is one side of the entry gates that belonged to the old manner house that  once stood on these grounds. It was burned down, as so many of the old houses were.

House on the way to Abbeytown. This was at one time a rectory, just around the corner is Foulsyke's Farm