On Sunday of our first week at Fort Arbeia, we went out and explored Hadrian's Wall. Nick gave us a tour of the sites, and explained the history of the wall. The Romans started building the wall in AD 122. The purpose of the wall was to provide a military barrier, so that the 'heathen' tribes of Scotland would be less inclined to attack. Along the wall are several forts and turrets.The wall is an amazing 72 miles long.
We hiked from Homesteads Fort west for about 2 1/2 miles, through very windy but very beautiful country on both sides.
After lunch we visited a fort called Vindolanda, which had a fantastic museum. Vindolanda has been excavated since the 1970's. The site is especially unique compared to other Roman sites because the chemical composition of the soil allowed for the survival of items such as leather, wood, and cloth.
The most amazing items in the museum were the hundreds of excavated Roman shoes---soldiers and citizens, women, men, and children. Also there were leather items such as horses' harnesses and bridles. By far the most exciting finds at Vindolanda are written tablets, of ink on very thin wood. The written correspondences depict the day to day life of the fort.
Most exciting from my feminist perspective is the discovery of a woman named Claudia Severa's letter to her friend Sulpicia Lepidina, inviting her to a birthday party.
Apparently this is one of first known examples of a woman's writing to survive from ancient times.