During the first weekend of half term 15 students from Years 10-13 journeyed up to the north east for the annual Hadrian's Wall trip. The trip began with a new first stop on the itinerary - a visit to the historic city of York to see an exhibition of gladiator skeletons which had recently been excavated in York itself. A brief guided tour round these remains gave a great insight into the incredible find of 80 gladiatorial burials and posed some very challenging questions to think about as we made our way to our accommodation at Birdoswald.
After an introduction to what life in Britannia had been like in the Roman era and what the Romans had thought of the British locals from Mr Hayes on Saturday evening, we left Birdoswald early on Sunday morning and began a busy day of sightseeing with a trip to the Roman Army Museum. After seeing a video including an 'eagle-eye' view of Hadrian's Wall at the museum it was time to walk part of the wall ourselves, from Steel Rigg to the Roman fort at Housesteads. Once again, on our walk, the weather was kind to us and we made good time, even allowing for many photo opportunities to take in the spectacular views along the way. After a brief stop to look around the fort at Housesteads, we then made our way to two other sights along the wall, at Corbridge and Chesters, with a flying stop to the remains of a Mithraic temple on the way. It was a very busy but enjoyable afternoon and after a well earned dinner back at Birdoswald there was only a brief respite before we were visited by the Roman soldier Maximus who, after telling us about life in the Roman army in Britannia, led the students in some Roman military manoeuvres before the night was out. It was an appropriate climax to a hectic day along the Wall.
Our final day of the trip, Monday, saw us visit the world famous archaeological site of Vindolanda where, after a brief introduction from Justin Blake, one of the archaeologists there, we were able to explore one of the most significant sites along Hadrian's Wall. A visit to the newly revamped museum at the site was a highlight of the morning as the new exhibition there now includes several of the famous Vindolanda Tablets which were found there. It was amazing to see writings and messages from 2000 years ago on display and to see that people have not changed much since that time.
Our final stop of the trip saw us go to Segedunum at Wallsend which gave us the remarkable opportunity to explore a reconstructed bath house and to stand on a reconstructed section of Hadrian's Wall itself. It was the ideal way to finish the long weekend.
Many thanks to Mr Harrison for co-ordinating the trip and to Dr Wyles and Mr Hayes for also accompanying the students. Mr Hayes once again passed on his in-depth knowledge of the local area and explained much of the reasoning behind what we saw during the three days. He also provided plenty of information on the emperor Hadrian himself and explained why he should not just be remembered for his wall. The students gained a great deal from his talks and from all the sites we visited during the three days.