I recently read a post on another blog from someone currently visiting the UK and the impression that I got is that they aren’t enjoying themselves. This in itself is disappointing, but more disappointing were their comments regarding Hadrian’s Wall. I am a history lover, and think it is great that so many tourists love visiting heritage sites of historical importance when they visit the UK. But it is not great when some people clearly come away just as ignorant as when they arrived, or with completely the wrong impression.
I understand that walking the wall, of which I have only done a section (Walton to Chesters), is not everybody’s cup of tea. The weather can be bleak, particularly at the top of Housesteads in the middle of winter, but that doesn’t mean it is bad all the time. I guess the scenery could be described as monotonous, there are lot of green fields and sheep, but it can also be beautiful and on a clear day the views are incredible. To an extent I can even understand why the wall might be considered disappointing, but it must be remembered that what remains now has lasted from AD 122 and so obviously won’t look the same way that it did then.
Hadrian’s Wall has been a World Heritage Site since 1987, and whilst it may not have the immediate grandeur of sites such as the Colosseum or Roman Forum in Rome, it is still pretty impressive. It stretches for over 70 miles and took at least six years to complete. When originally built, it was approximately 4.6 metres tall, and 3 metres wide – so whilst it may look easily penetrable today, it certainly wouldn’t have done at the time it was used for defending England! It was seen as an accessible supply of stone for buildings in the area following its abandonment and it is only from the mid-nineteenth century that people have sought to protect the remains of the wall and forts, which is why it is now in a considerable state of ruin.
For anyone visiting Hadrian’s Wall, I would thoroughly recommend walking at least part of it and going to visit one of the forts. When you go, don’t come away feeling disappointed and having not got anything out of your trip. Seek information, cast your mind back to what it would have been like almost 2000 years ago, and be proud that you are still able to view what is now a World Heritage Site.