2nd century

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NE47 6NN
OS Grid NY 790 688
4m from Bardon Nill




English Heritage
Heritage Trail
Ancient Scotland
Roman Britain
Hadrian's Wall


Housesteads Roman Fort

We managed to pick three days of soggy rain to visit the heritage trail along Hadrian's Wall -- but I thought that the gray mist made it even more impressive, actually. It reallly highlight just how far from "civilization" this place would have been. Wild, cold, remote, the very ends of the empire. Being stationed here would be the equivalent to being sent to the end of the earth to watch a wall and ditch against invastion from the north. It is the northernmost defence fort on the wall.

looking along the fort, to the wall, in the torrential rain

Walking the Wall

This fort is high on a hill -- a squelchy plod through the mud and up the steep slope to the ruins. Most of the grass is reinforced with grates to give everyone some traction in the rain. It's worth the climb, if only for the great views of the wall snaking out over the countryside. The road leading to Housesteads parallels the great ditch (which is really what Hadrian's Wall was -- the stone was wasn't the real barrier here) and you can stop at a few places to see the reconstructed stone looping over the hills and valleys alongside. Housesteadas is one of 16 forts along the wall, and is perhaps the most-visited, since the remains here are remarkably complete.

The roman name of the fort is Vercovicium; it was manned by the Roman army in the 2nd century. Perhaps a thousand Roman solders were garrisoned here, and the fort wasn't abandoned until about 400 CE. It was an early fort on the wall--built aroud 124 CE, only a few years after the wall was begun and appears to have been surrounded by a non-military town as well, with fields and other houses outside the fort proper. One of the most-mentioned things at the fort is a well-preserved Roman latrine, the best preserved example in Britain.

Only stone foundations remain, and a few stretches of reconstructed Wall, but climbing to the top of the fort give a great view out over Hadrian's Wall and the surrounding countryside (despite the torrential rains!).

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