Hadrian & The Roman Army in the North

Visiting Dramatic Sites Along Hadrian's Wall

Tour Introduction

Led by renowned Roman Army historian, Dr Adrian Goldsworthy, we examine the role and organisation of this, the largest professional army until the modern era, placing it in context as we visit the altars and tombstones of its soldiers and their families and explore the remains and reconstructions of fortifications, houses and barrack blocks. We will appreciate how and why so many professional Roman soldiers were based on this frontier, of how they lived and what they did. It is the story of the frontier of an empire and the threats it faced. It is also the story of the flourishing and decline of Rome's British province and the experience of the locals living on either side of the barrier. And all set amongst the warm hospitality and dramatic scenery of Northern England.

Background

Recognising that the Roman Empire could not expand indefinitely, Emperor Hadrian determined to consolidate his frontiers and the resultant wall reflects that change of policy. It is the most important site in Roman Britain, with forts, civilian settlements and temples as well as fortifications. A World Heritage listed site, it is the largest surviving monument to the Roman army, stretching for 80 Roman miles from the Tyne to the Cumbrian coast. Occupied for two and half centuries, the Wall was heavily garrisoned. Yet much about it is a mystery. Mentioned a handful of times in ancient literature, the changing design and function of Hadrian's Wall has to be deduced from excavation and many puzzles remain for us to discuss and unravel as we travel along it.

Highlights

  • With acknowledged authority Dr Adrian Goldsworthy
  • Part walking tour visiting key sites
  • Staying in the beautiful market town of Hexham
  • Learn what life was like for Roman Soldiers in Britain

"Adrian guided us very capably, authoritatively and was always interesting. He showcased his deep knowledge of the Romans most masterfully."

Itinerary

Day 1 – Corbridge.
Assemble at midday at our hotel in Hexham, our base for all three nights of the tour. This afternoon we visit the remains of the town and depot at Corbridge on the main road behind the Wall and visit the museum there. This evening we enjoy welcome drinks and an introductory talk before dinner.

Day 2 - The Wall.
We drive to Steel Rigg and from there walk some three and half miles along one of the best preserved sections of the Wall, looking at milecastles and towers. There are also wonderful views of lovely countryside. We conclude the walk by looking at Houseteads fort, which housed an auxiliary infantry unit and is probably the most famous site on the Wall. Afterwards we will look at the Mithraeum at Carrawburgh, and visit the museum and site of the cavalry fort at Chesters, with its well preserved bath-house.

Day 3 - Wallsend.
We drive to the eastern end of the Wall at the mouth of the River Tyne and visit the fort at South Shields, the only fully excavated auxiliary fort in the world. As well as the remains there are excellent reconstructions of a gateway and towers, barrack block and commander's house or praetorium. At Wallsend we will see another fort site with excellent museum and viewing tower. Afterwards we will visit the extensive Roman collection housed in the Museum of the North in Newcastle.

Day 4 – Vindolanda.
We will visit Vindolanda. This includes reconstructed sections of Wall, on-going excavations and an extensive site. There is also a terrific museum containing fabulous collections of leather goods such as shoes, as well as the world famous writing tablets. Return to our hotel and disperse.

Recommended Reading List

Hadrian & The Roman Army in the North

Tour Dates

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