So, the Last Three Weeks . . .

I was in a cool, damp place. Well, cooler than 104 F. And rather farther away from the war in Ukraine than I was in 2019. I started at Eboricum, Jorvik, then the Vallum Adrium, Vallum Antonini, Dun Add, Dun Edin, Dun Ollie, and Traprian Law. And a few other places.

The sky was a lot darker. And the wind was in my face at 35 MPH, with drizzle.
Like that. The first picture was from near the top of the Sill, shooting down. It’s a good place for a wall.

The trip began with Romans and Vikings. And discovering that walking on the treadmill at the gym, and lifting weights, are not a lot of help when scrambling up near-vertical steps and slopes in sideways misty rain, or carrying luggage up and down several flights of narrow stairs. Yes, once again I was well off the usual tourist map, in places where Americans rarely venture, at least for the first two weeks. Edinburgh was full of Americans, St. Andrews almost as packed (graduation weekend, plus two weeks until The British Open.) However, I had Hadrian’s Wall, the Antonine Wall, and Arran to myself. Mostly.

One of only two walls still standing in England that have the archer-sheds and ports intact. This was at York, to protect St. Mary’s Abbey from unhappy townsfolk. Something about taxes . . .
How do you hide the crane needed to lift things for construction and repairs . . . Opposite St. George, of course.
An author walks into a bar 1700 years after closing time . . . That’s the taberna in Vindolanda, with cold rain still blowing sideways. That did NOT deter Rome buffs in the least. Speaking of bar-related things, later in the trip I discovered the non-alcoholic gin Seedlip. I like Seedlip. It is at least $30 US per bottle, of course.
The first time I was in Great Britain, it was the 10th anniversary of the Falklands War. This was the 40th. Time has flown, far too swiftly.
The view from Dun Add, ancient capital of Dal Riata, the Irish-founded kingdom in far western Scotland. Kenneth MacAlpine was the first named king of Dalriada. The fields had been the Great Moss, a marshy mess. The sea is off to the right. To the left is a bit of Galloway with hundreds of Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and later standing stones, graves, and the like. And it was windy, and rained a bit on us.
Low tide in Oban at 6:00 AM. Sunrise was at 0430, sunset at 2200.

Oh, and as well as seeing the Irish Sea and the North Sea, I also went to New Lanark, Glencoe, the Old Course at St. Andrews, Arran Island, the Great Glen (and Loch Ness), Sterling, Bannockburn battlefield, Scone, Rosslyn Chapel (which is smaller and stranger than I thought it would be, from reading about it . . .) and a few other places. Ben Nevis was covered in clouds, to no one’s surprise.

Morning after the storm, Sterling.

20 thoughts on “So, the Last Three Weeks . . .

  1. Well off the beaten track. It was startling to walk past the remains of James Watt’s summer laboratory on the way to one of the gates and custom houses for the Antonine Wall.

  2. One thing that strikes me, is the lack of trees. Was this also true in Prehistoric and Roman times?

    • Yes. The “deforestation” of Britain started in the Neolithic and continued until WWII. Parts of Scotland never really had many trees because of the poor growing conditions, but human activity has been at work for a very long time.

    • That was the first thing I noticed too. Someone I know recently sent me some photos from England and I noticed the same. The only place I’ve seen less trees is Kansas–and it’s a very different visual being flat vs hills. Being in VA, and rarely leaving, I’m used to being treed in on all sides and in all places. We’ve got more trees in the city shopping centers than they have in the countryside over there it looks like.

      • I’ll do a post on that later on. The “forest primeval” got thinned a very long time ago, based on what archaeologists have determined.

  3. I loved York, when my brother and sister and I visited in 1976. And we stayed in Oban, too – and I took a day excursion out to Iona, the Holy Isle – which was so beautiful – the white sand like sugar and clear green water. The last leg of the trip from Mull to Iona was in an open motor boat.

    • It’s still green water and sugar sand – gorgous on a clear day. The final ferry crossing to Iona is still an open boat, but more like a landing craft now. The restored parts of 13th c abbey and the standing cross were wonderful. This was the Navel of Christianity in the north, an important littoral crossing.

      IIRC, the harbor picture was taken from the general vicinity of the distillery, along the esplanade. Compact town.

      • Yes, it was. I was shooting back to catch the colors. One of the big Cal Mac ferries departed as I got closer to St. Columba’s. It seemed fitting.

  4. I miss England. The two years we lived there was a true joy. Working as a volunteer at the Raunds archeological site was an experience I’ll never forget. I still want to visit Lundy.

  5. I visited Scotland once. So far, my only trip outside the continental United States. An SF convention in Glasgow, then a tour of the Highlands. Eilean Donan, Glenfinnan, Glen Coe, the Isle of Skye, Dunvegan…

    On the third day of the tour, one of our stops was Clava Cairns, just east of Inverness. It was a standard-issue Scottish fall day, cool and misty. On a day like that, a place like that can make a convincing argument that magic is in fact possible… and it also reminds you that magic isn’t necessarily nice.

    After visiting Scotland, one understands why the Scots are the way they are. It’s a tough place, and it bred a tough people.

    • I . . . Well, I didn’t pet the megaliths, and I flat refused to walk through stone circles. Partly because turning my ankle did not appeal in the least (I’ll have a photo up later.) I didn’t get bad feelings from the stone alignment, but the rings . . . Eh, lawful neutral to chaos neutral was the “vibe” I got.

  6. Love the hat! Seedlip sounds more like some kind of foreign chew/dip than a gin, made me think of betel nut.

    Drizzly weather makes for great photos, the ratio of field to livestock seems strange though. Do they not allow grazing at historic sites?

    • Thanks! The hat is a Tilley, water resistant, hard to blow off my head (has modified tie-down straps) and also has ear-flaps. All were needed that day.

      They do allow grazing, and at Dun Add and Traprain Law there were stern signs about keeping dogs under control and closing the gates (lots and lots of gates). A sheep round-up had just concluded when I hiked Hadrian’s Wall at the Sill. I just managed to either miss the sheep in these photos, or the sheep had been moved out for hay mowing. (I couldn’t get to three Neolithic sites north of Dun Add because haying was in progress, and mowers and rakes have the right-of-way over tourists.)

      • I have a hat that matches Google’s Tilley description, but it isn’t as nice. It has no ear flaps, though it does have a ponytail window I don’t use. It’s good for gardening on days with a little wind and sun, not much more.

        I’m glad the sheep get to have the run of the place(s), but sad the mowers prevented some site visits. And I imagine even with the stern signs, some tourists can’t manage the gates.

        • The mowers were far less frustrating than the entire Kilmartin Regional Museum being closed, and them not uploading any images or information onto their website about what they have. If you are going to close for two years for a major renovation, augmenting your site so that people can at least look at some of the artifacts and read about the area and what you have would be a Good Thing. (In my opinion).

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