Edinburgh & Hadrian’s Wall

Brent had a business trip to Edinburgh so we took the opportunity to make a weekend out of it and to visit the northern edge of the Roman Empire – Hadrian’s Wall.

In Edinburgh, Katie toured The Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. Not only did Katie get to see where the Queen carries out her official duties (like making a knight of Sir Sean Connery) but also the bedchamber of Mary Queen of Scots, who lived in the palace during some of Scotland’s most dramatic history. However, the highlight of our night in Edinburgh was hanging out with Brent’s colleagues. Late night, one of Brent’s coworkers, a slim fellow famous for his voracious appetite, wanted to swing by the chippy shop (aka fish and chips shop) for some chips (aka fries). There before us laid a dazzling array of cholesterol laden goods, from which said colleague’s order for one included: fried cheeseburger, fried sausage, large side French fries and finally…fried Mars Bar (Edinburgh specialty). We were heartily impressed by his zest for all things fried. And even the nutritionist among us would admit that the fried Mars Bar was oddly tasty.

Onward. On Saturday we drove from Scotland over the border into England, making our way through the Northumberland National Park before finally reaching a portion of Hadrian’s Wall at Housesteads Roman Fort. Driving up we couldn’t tell Hadrian’s Wall from any other English stone, country wall and kept asking, “Is that the wall? Is that the wall”? But once we got to the fort, we could see that Hadrian’s Wall was indeed a bit heftier.

The wall was originally up to 20-feet high and stretched 73 miles from coast to coast along the narrowest part of northern England. Emperor Hadrian had the wall built to keep out the savage Scots and the ruins include forts, mile castles (look-outs every one mile along the wall), ditches and settlements. It really was something to be standing at the northernmost edge of an empire that stretched all the way from England to Africa. As always, we were impressed by the sophistication of the Romans.

The museum at one of the sites, Vindolanda, was very interesting. This is one of the best-preserved Roman settlements and is still an active dig in the dryer months. They have found everything here from ladies wigs to coins and a massive collection of leather shoes. They are even excavating fragile wooden tablets that the Romans used for record keeping and letters. Fashionable sandals, postcards and party invitations…Romans they’re just like us!

We really enjoyed our visit to Hadrian’s Wall and the interesting exhibits that helped bring the history to life. It was also a special trip because of our Castle accommodation near the wall. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) there were no ghostly encounters.

For more pictures, check out our Edinburgh & Hadrian’s Wall photo album dated 5th March 2012