Day 17 - Saturday, 24 May
We left Edinburgh after doing laundry on our way out of town .
Then we stopped briefly in Jedburgh for "last chance" woolen shopping and
lunch. At the border where we crossed from Scotland to England there is a large
stone with "England" on one side and "Scotland" on the other. We took pictures
of each other here and lingered for an ice cream cone from a truck vendor. A
nearby sign explained that the flag of Great Britain is a combination of the
flag of England overlaying the flag of Scotland. Amazing how well it worked
As we left the rest area there was a bold sign in five languages
telling us to drive on the left! It's a reminder to tourists that in both
countries you drive on the left side of the road. By this time, of course, Jim
had gotten pretty good at remembering to stay on the left, although I don't
think either of us ever got completely comfortable with it.
A little south of today's border is Hadrian's wall. Hadrian was
Emperor of Rome from 117 to 138, and visited Britain in 122. It was probably
during this visit that he ordered the wall to be built across the Island to
separate the Romans and the barbarians - the Scots, the Irish, and/or the
Picts. Perhaps the Romans decided the land above that line was not worth the
effort of fighting the tough people who lived in the wild and rugged country of
Scotland. So Hadrian drew a "line in the sand" so to speak, and had his
soldiers build a wall of turf and stone, with milecastles where there were
gates, Turrets or watchtowers in between, and Roman baths wherever
Chester's Fort on Hadrian's
We came to our first view of Hadrian's wall at Chester's Fort. We
wandered through a museum here, and learned that the Romans tolerated worship
of all kinds of gods, but Christianity was not allowed! We also visited the
ruins of the bath house which is conveniently located near the river North
Tyne. The upcoming video will show scenes of the hot room, warm room, cold
room, dressing room, and toilets. The toilets were built over running streams
of water for automatic flushing.
I had heard of the Great Wall of China all of my life, but
Hadrian's wall was a new thing to both of us. When we got home, I searched our
set of history books and found two brief mentions of the wall, so I guess in
the greater scheme of things Roman, it was not as significant as many of the
other great buildings that Hadrian erected.
But it was an amazing thing, and I had fun walking along the top
of the wall as it stretched behind our B&B at Sewing Shields farm. In
places the foundation of the wall is as wide as 11 Roman feet, though the wall
itself is usually about 8 feet wide. We went out behind the farmhouse, climbed
over a stile and there was the wall. At that point it was built mostly along
the edge of a cliff, so the scenery was dramatic and beautiful. The pastures
were green and lush, and the quiet countryside was idyllic. It was not a place
that made you think of war. Somehow we felt that the Romans who had duty on
this wall had pretty soft lives for the most part.
Sewing Shields Farm B&B
Sewing Shields Farm B&B is run by Lyn and Angus Murray, Angus
was born in the house. I don't know how long the farm has been in their family,
but it is a working farm, and we thought at first we might not be very happy
there. The farm house looked pretty rustic and our hostess looked tired. I felt
as if I should pitch in and help her. (Editors note: she didn't.) Our room was
upstairs, and the bathrooms were downstairs in 3 rooms, all in a row - one with
a shower, one with a tub, and one with just a toilet and sink.
There was a garden just outside our window which needed attention.
Like many old farms it had a few disreputable-looking buildings around the
edges. There were several cats with no names and only one who was allowed in
the house. The others were just farm animals, like the cows and sheep that were
scattered across the hillside that sloped down from the farmhouse to the road.
Getting to the farmhouse involved going through a gate. I got out and opened
it, Jim drove through, and I closed it behind us. We got up close and personal
with some of the cattle; interesting creatures not at all like the cows we see
in America, but shaggy and tough-looking.
We had dinner at Milecastle Pub
where they served interesting things like venison and rabbit pie along with
some more ordinary things. We enjoyed the company of a couple who kept us
entertained with local stories.
Next door to the pub was a building built entirely of stones taken
from Hadrian's wall.
This was another place where it seemed that it never got
completely dark, but no matter what time I woke during the night it looked like