I think this was the fourth time we've been here - and it was finally sunny at Housesteads Roman Fort in Northumberland. It's probably one of the best places you could ever visit in the UK - so full of history and permanence.
I say that, but then my mind goes to all the truly ancient Bronze Age and Neolithic stone burials, barrows and stone circles that are *littered* all over the whole island and I digress. Hadrian's Wall is still pretty great, though.
The idea that the Roman Empire got to the Picts (who we know almost nothing about) and just said FUCK IT, stopped and built a whole damn wall across the whole entire island to keep them away is amazing. How badass were the Picts?
It absolutely fires the imagination. No wonder George Martin was inspired to use the idea of Hadrian's Wall for his big northern Ice Wall of Doom in A Song of Ice and Fire. The whole island of England is pretty much Westeros anyway - when you get on the M and drive north of London, every single sign you see says you're heading to THE NORTH. (Turn around and it says THE SOUTH) I mean, if that isn't Martin copycatting then I don't know what is.
If you can manage a trip to England - don't just stay in London. London has its charms, sure - but get out of there as fast as possible and head basically in any direction. You're going to find amazing things, I promise. But if you want to come north, head to York. It's a great base for exploration all over the entire north of England. The drive to Hadrian's Wall is about 90 minutes from York.
And drives in the UK are about as pleasant as they can possibly be. Can we just stop for a minute and just appreciate the services every 10-25 miles along the highways? Getting hungry? No worries, there will be a stop soon with hot food, coffee, shops and groceries. Need a loo break? Just up ahead, no need to hold it for long. Or a shower if you like. Or hell, even a motel if you want to sleep. People in the UK know how to take care of their travelers. It's actually fun and pleasant to drive anywhere. The US could learn a lot. A lot.
The natural escarpment that is right near housesteads is kind of hilarious, because you're basically building a wall on top of a giant cliffside that is facing your enemy. They have to be able to scale the cliff first and THEN you build a wall? Charming, lol :) Here is a good example of what I'm talking about - this isn't at Housesteads, but it's only a few miles away:
You can see the wall crawl up the cliff face and move across, a milefort at the top. The wall goes on and on and on too, you can follow it out of the photo to the left.
We walked up that horrible hill, it doesn't look like it but it's very steep actually - wide angle lenses tend to flatten everything out! We were headed for a little spot a ways off; they filmed a bit of Robin Hood Prince of Thieves here at this very spot.
It's gorgeous here and I really need to come back when the tree will be in full leaf. It was a bit sparse on May 1. You wouldn't believe how cold it actually is! Also, sloshy with mud, we tromped through a bit of mud and water getting here and back. Was fun!