In 1849, John Collingwood Bruce led an expedition to Hadrian’s Wall to tour the Roman remains. Since then, this trip – known as the Pilgrimage of Hadrian’s Wall – has been repeated every ten years, and in recent decades CA has marked the anniversary with a special themed issue. With the latest band of Pilgrims heading to the frontier this month, CA 353 explores some of the major projects and key discoveries on the Wall since 2009 – I am hugely grateful to David Breeze for his invaluable help in pulling it all together.
We begin with a snapshot of the community projects that play such a vital role in bringing the Wall’s secrets to light, followed by an overview of the history of the Pilgrimage, and of the direction of recent research on the Roman frontier.
Artefactual evidence is next in the spotlight, as we explore some of the key aspects of frontier life through the astonishingly diverse objects that have been excavated along its length, before we move on to specific sites that have revealed so much about military and civilian life on the Wall.
At the eastern forts of South Shields and Wallsend, we find baths and protective deities, while Vindolanda, just south of the Wall, tells the story of a diverse population through an equally varied array of finds. At Birdoswald, we visit an eroding cremation cemetery and take a closer look at one particularly unusual urn, while monumental buildings, altars, and extra-mural occupation are our focus at Maryport.
Finally, we meet the inhabitants of Roman Carlisle, consider the unique challenges of managing the entire expanse of the Wall, and review some of the key books about the monument published in the last decade.
IN THIS ISSUE:
TO BE A PILGRIM
How the Pilgrimage of Hadrian’s Wall began
We delve into the history of an expedition with a claim to being Britain’s oldest archaeological tour.
THE WIDER WALL
A decade of discoveries and debate
How has research on the Roman frontier developed, and what are its current key trends?
Artefactual insights into Hadrian’s Wall
Telling the story of the diverse communities who lived and worked along the Wall through 13 fascinating finds.
Sharing snapshots from
South Shields and Wallsend
What insights are emerging from the forts at the eastern end of Hadrian’s Wall?
COMMUNITIES IN THE CONFLICT ZONE
Ten years of discoveries at Vindolanda
Best known for the writing tablets excavated at the fort in 1973, Vindolanda continues to yield wide-ranging finds.
BURIED AT BIRDOSWALD
Excavating a Roman cremation cemetery outside the fort
What can an eroding cremation cemetery and an unusual urn tell us about Birdoswald’s inhabitants?
SETTLEMENT AND SACRED STRUCTURES
Exploring cultic and commercial activity at Maryport
Buried altars, temples, and evidence of extramural settlement shed vivid light on life at Maryport.
RECONSTRUCTING ROMAN CARLISLE
Fort life on a shifting frontier
The fort at Carlisle pre-dates Hadrian’s Wall. How did the site evolve as the frontier was fortified?
MANAGING HADRIAN’S WALL
How to care for a 73-mile-long monument
We consider the unique challenges of looking after an ancient monument that runs from coast to coast and spans multiple authority areas.
Unlocking the secrets of the Winchester Cathedral mortuary chests; Unique Iron Age bark shield found in Leicestershire; Blackmiddens: distilling the history of Scottish whisky; Dissecting the diet of medieval peasants; Roman marching camp revealed in Ayr; Science notes; Generating the genomes of ancient plague; Finds tray
Community archeology on Hadrian’s Wall
Hadrian’s Wall: a study in archaeological exploration and interpretation; Hadrian’s Wall: a life; Hadrian’s Wall at Wallsend; Hadrian’s Wall: everyday life on a Roman frontier; The Clayton Collection: an archaeological appraisal of a 19th-century collection of Roman artefacts from Hadrian’s Wall; Hadrian’s Wall: history and guide
Interpreting Hadrian’s Wall
Chris Catling’s irreverent take on heritage issues
The Galpin Society