While southern England gets most of the glory — and the tourists — the country’s far northeastern corner harbors some of the best historical sites. Hadrian’s Wall serves as a reminder that this was once an important Roman colony, while nearby Holy Island is where Christianity gained its first toehold in Britain. And both can be reached from the town of Durham, home to England’s greatest Norman church.
For years I’ve visited Hadrian’s Wall, the remains of the fortification the Romans built nearly 2,000 years ago to mark the northern end of their empire, where Britannia stopped and where the barbarian land that would someday be Scotland began. But until last summer, I never ventured beyond the National Trust properties, the museums, and the various car-park viewpoints.
Read more of the story at From Hadrian’s Wall to Holy Island to Durham, England’s past comes alive – chicagotribune.com.
Story by Rick Steeves – Chicago Tribune; Photo by Bill Gats – Wikimedia
Newly-displayed ‘distance slabs’ from Scotland’s Antonine Wall marked the northernmost point of legions’ conquest
Most people know of Hadrian’s Wall, the Roman defensive fortification through Northern England since a significant portion of the wall still exists. This UNESCO World Heritage site has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Northern England. However, few know about the second wall the Romans built North of Hadrian’s Wall. The Antonine Wall represents the northernmost border of the Roman Empire, it spanned approximately 39 miles (63 km) and was about ten feet (3 m) high and fifteen feet (5 m) wide. The Antoine Wall was abandoned after only 20 years and this lead to its quick disrepair and lesser known status. Chris Parsons of the Daily Mail writes about recently unveiled ornately carved distance slabs from the Antonine Wall.
It was the ‘final frontier’ of domination which spanned across the entire width of Scotland and was the northernmost point of the Roman empire.
Now previously unseen elaborately-carved parts of the 39 mile-long Antonine Wall have gone on display, giving a new insight into the lavish victory sculptures created by the Roman legions.
Roman soldiers who pushed the empire north of Hadrian’s Wall marked their triumphs with hand-carved ‘distance slabs’ commemorating parts of the newly-completed Antonine Wall.
The building of the new frontier lines was the culmination of a renewed attempt by the Romans to extend their empire into what is now southern Scotland.
The Antonine Wall was built around AD 142, early in the reign of Antoninus Pius, Hadrian’s successor as emperor.
Antonius Pius pushed the Roman border north from Hadrian’s wall in order to secure a military victory that would be well received back in Rome.
Many parts of the Antonine Wall can still be seen in Scotland, while the ‘distance slabs’ carved by soldiers were generally more elaborately decorated than their counterparts on Hadrian’s Wall.
The might Antonine turf wall was erected by Roman soldiers of the II Augusta, VI Victrix and XX Valeria Victrix legions, and stretched coast to coast across Scotland between the firths of Forth and Clyde.