I hope you’re all keeping well. What a different world we find ourselves in since I wrote last month’s letter! They say that ‘the past is a foreign country’, and it certainly seems bizarre that only a few weeks ago we were compiling our annual ‘Digs Guide’ listings of summer excavations. But while many outdoor […]
The decennial Pilgrimage of Hadrian’s Wall is an act of veneration for the most-substantial Roman monument in Britain, and the outstanding frontier-work of the Roman Empire. Professionals and amateurs mingle, travel the Wall, and hear and discuss the latest discoveries. It is a highly convivial occasion. A book is issued, charting the previous decade’s research. Following the pattern of the 1999 book, the most recent (2019) publication, edited by Rob Collins and Matt Symonds, is the essential means of keeping up with what is new on the Wall
From Roman temples dedicated to Mithras to Anglo-Saxon stone crosses, Newcastle’s Great North Museum: Hancock explores an array of beliefs and ways of life in the north of England
Review – Hadrian’s Wall 2009-2019: A summary of recent excavation and research prepared for the Fourteenth Pilgrimage of Hadrian’s Wall, 2019
This extremely important volume was produced to accompany the 14th Pilgrimage of Hadrian’s Wall, an event that was explored in CA 353. It stands in line with earlier volumes produced for previous Pilgrimages in 2009 and 1999. Rob Collins and Matthew Symonds were selected by the Committee that managed the 14th Pilgrimage to compile and edit this impressive volume, which forms a handy summary of the research that has been undertaken on Hadrian’s Wall during the past decade.
As an immediately recognisable monument, Hadrian’s Wall has long proved a rich seam of inspiration for cartoonists. Lucia Marchini visited a new exhibition exploring how the frontier can be funny.
Anyone visiting Hadrian’s Wall is well advised to take a guidebook. There are many available, but one of the most useful is Guy de la Bédoyère’s handy volume. Though a slim book, it is packed full of detail.
The importance of the Clayton Collection extends significantly beyond its home ground of Chesters (Cilurnum), though the focus of the present volume is on the material from Cilurnum. That is set in the context of Clayton’s ownership of, and interest in, the site; his position in the tradition of 19th-century antiquarianism; the formation of the Collection; and its subsequent development.
As the author herself asks, why do we need another book on Hadrian’s Wall? The question is conclusively answered over the course of the book’s 400 pages. It includes the standard sections on, for example, the history, construction, and purpose of the Wall, but it digs deeper than many volumes into the Wall’s management.
Archaeologists do not often get the chance to excavate Hadrian’s Wall. The monument is well protected by law (rightly so) and spared from development, meaning that invasive investigations are few and far between. While that is good news for the preservation of the Wall, it can make resolving long-standing questions about, say, construction or chronology difficult. The exposure of a length of Wall at Wallsend between 1988 and 2015 in a series of excavations ahead of the creation of an archaeological park was therefore an exciting prospect.
Although attempts have been made to strip away later activity and present Roman – usually specifically Hadrianic – ruins to modern visitors, traces of the Wall’s afterlife still endure. Such sparse survivals, though, do not reflect the rich legacy of Hadrian’s Wall. That is the story that Richard Hingley, Professor of Archaeology at Durham University, sets out to tell in a fascinating volume that leads us from the Roman period to the 21st century.