The Ends of the (Roman) World

Well, I’ve seen one of them. The other end isn’t quite as safe to visit right now.

At the gate to the remains of part of the Antonine Wall. Latina Magna Est!
Beyond this point be barbarians.

Hadrian’s wall is the more famous barrier the Romans built in Britain, in part because it was so visible for so long, and in part because it lasted over two centuries. It marked the dividing line between Roman occupied Britain, and Roman influenced Britain. At least the Romans wanted to influence it. Sometimes it was a negative influence.

The Antonine Wall vs. Hadrian’s Wall. From: DigitScotland. Creative Commons Fair Use:

The Antonine Wall, credited (or at least claimed) by Antoninus Pius, was farther north, near modern Sterling. You have to know how to get there in order to get there. It lacks the signage and markers of the southern edition, in part because it was never as permanent or impressive as Hadrian’s wall. Also, the land around the northern barrier is more settled and farmed, and too valuable to be left pasture, unlike far more of Hadrian’s wall.

What you see are two artificial mounds with the fossa, the ditch, in the middle. I’m looking north, toward the dangerous side. Behind me the land slopes more gently, and that was the Roman side. You had an interior ditch, then a wall made of turves (turfs – sod and dirt and wood), a deeper and steeper ditch that donated material for the wall, and then a clear line of sight toward the barbarians. The trees would most certainly NOT block the view.

When I was at the Antonine wall, it was me, one dog walker, the rest of the group, and a mowing crew. I played “dodge mower” as they trimmed knee-high grass back to lawn height.

Looking south from Hadrian’s Wall. The sun was NOT that bright, I assure you. Notice that there are fewer trees here in Yorkshire.

I’ve also been along most of the Limes, the anti-German Roman defensive line that ran from the mouths of the Rhine to the Main then the Danube. From there it followed the river, more or less, until it reached the “Pontic shores where the snowflakes fall,” as Kipling put it. I’ve been from Budapest to the Antonine Wall, but not yet to Rome or to the eastern end of the Roman world.

Been there, hiked that, as far as the last a in Pannonia. From Ray Bishop History.

Some day, perhaps . . .


13 thoughts on “The Ends of the (Roman) World

  1. I’m sorry but I’m going to nitpick. Your last photograph is either not Hadrian’s Wall or not Yorkshire.

    • I was standing atop the Sill, beside Hadrian’s wall, shooting southwest. My back was to the reconstruction of the wall. You may disagree, but I know where I shot that series of photos.

      • I’m sure you know where you took the photo – and much better than I do as I can only guess where you were – and I have to admit that I really assumed that you were at the wall. So instead of trying to tease, I should have just said that it must have been Northumberland or Cumbria rather than Yorkshire that was showing the fewer trees. I have to admit that it is easy to take photos in Yorkshire that also illustrate “fewer trees” (but lots of heather).

        • No harm, no foul.

          I couldn’t tell if you were teasing or not (yet another font we need, like the sarcasm font), and I’ve had people challenge my photos in the past, claiming that “only a professional” could get certain shots.

          You don’t need to be a pro when luck and timing happen to coincide.

  2. Not enough coffee to think of anything humorous or intelligent. 😉

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