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Doing as the Romans Do - Walking the Wall

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"When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love." - Marcus Aurelius (Roman Emperor)

Foodie moment

We saw a sign for one pound curries at a pub on the way to our accommodation in Carlisle and they were really nice! You can't beat a one pound dinner!

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Cultural moment

The British love to go waking, whether its for a week long holiday making their way along the length of Hadrian's wall, or on a Sunday afternoon. It is a much more popular pass time here than back in Australia. Whilst 'tramping' in Scotland and England we also learnt one of the nicest things about the UK walking culture is that everyone says 'Hello' as they walk past. It can sound a little repetitive when you pass a large group, but it develops a lovely sense on community and makes you feel part of something, even if you're on your own.

Wow moment

On the long drive from Fort Augustus down to Northern England, we stopped briefly in Stirling to check out the castle. A pretty town set along a steep hill leads up to the Stirling castle sitting on the top of the hill. The nearby Old Town Cemetery gives amazing views over the town and the castle, a great photographic opportunity!

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Hadrian's wall was constructed by the Roman army, construction begin in 122 AD. It originally formed a border across the North of England stretching from one coast to the other, and was built to keep out those savage Northerners (otherwise known as the Scots!). Nowadays most of the wall has been demolished but there are still some parts that are intact, and these are the ones we visited. The countryside surrounding the walls is wild and barren, and we could see why the Roman guards on wall duty would have dealt with the difficulties of exposure, temperature and boredom! Hiking the walls is breathtaking, both because of the up hills and just the enormity of the history we were seeing.

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What we learnt today

Whilst at Hadrian's wall, we visited the Roman Army Museum, which ended up being one of the best museums we have visited on this trip. It covered the make up of the Roman army and the life of a Roman soldier on the front line of Emperor Hadrian’s formidable British frontier. There were many Roman artefacts, costumes, re-enacted stories from soldiers point of views and a great 3D movie that showed reconstructions of the Roman garrisons and fortresses along Hadrian's Wall.

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The Roman army was made up of many sections, beginning with the individual soldier of either Roman background or men taken captive from previous battles (known as Auxiliaries). These formed group of centuries, cohorts and legions which totalled 5,400 soldiers. The leaders of centuries are called Centurions and the leader of the entire legion is called a Legatus Legionis. It was this structure of rank that contributed to the Romans success.

The Auxiliaries are enemy soldiers that join the Roman army by capture. These soldiers are chosen by showing a particular expertise in battle such as the expert archers of eastern Europe. The Auxiliary armies are similar but separate to the group of the main Roman army and are usually sent to battles far away from their home country to prevent bias or favouritism of their homeland.

Many men joined the army because of its enticing rewards. The main being that after 25 years of service a soldier could retire, receive Roman citizenship (if not already), be given his own piece of land within the empire and benefits for himself and his future family. However the tough life and high risk of death while serving in the army prevented many men from ever lasting the full 25 years.

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Posted by travellinglise 08:59 Archived in England Tagged scenery hadrians_wall Comments (0)

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