Day Twelve - Drive to Scottish Borders - Vindolanda Roman Fort & Jedburgh Abbey   

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Hadrian's Wall, ca. 130 AD


On the drive to the Scottish Borders we headed east from Carlisle, England, for about an hour and then we stopped at Vindolanda Roman Fort, near Hexam, England. 

Vindolanda was a fully occupied Roman Fort by AD 80, forty years before the work to build nearby Hadrian's Wall commenced. This Roman fort was out on the frontier.  At that time, tribes of Picts from the north were the threat.  Picts had a lot of Viking blood, and were considered savages by the Romans.   

According to the brochure, the military fort and the accompanying village had a population as large as 5,000, of which 1,500 would have been Roman soldiers, the rest being family members, crafts-persons, traders and merchants, or servants and slaves.  Roman soldiers posted here were from Syria, and parts of northern Africa, or Gaul (France) and what would later be called Germany.  The Museum info said that military discipline was strictly enforced here.      

Excavations suggest that the site was chosen because of the presence of fresh water springs, which are still here. There's a nice creek here too.    

In AD 122, Roman Emperor Hadrian visited the Roman forts in the area, and he gave the order to construct an 80 mile long Wall, from Solway Firth in the west to the North Sea in the east, the main purpose being to keep tribal Picts tribes out, basic border control.  A DNA filter, maybe....   

note - you can enlarge any part of a picture by left-clicking in and then out again.

  miles from home first look this was no small fort
  bath house  foundations not w/o some luxury main buildings  
the tavern tavern, see note 1 below   'on Broadway'
  heading to the cafe & museum downhill somewhat Chesterholm Museum & Cafe  
Vindolanda artifacts Samian pottery from south Gaul weapons Roman coins
in good condition himself you could read letters written at the fort
outside again < altars & their religious inscriptions > 1/10 second waterfall shot
goodbye to Vindolanda Roman Fort

note 1 - the brochure states that if you walked into this Tavern 1,800 years ago, you could get a few local beers or a French white or red wine, and hot food.     

Historical records indicate that very early on after occupation, the Romans began to trade 'english' wool for 'french' wines from Gaul, both white and red.           

Vindolanda turns out to be the most 'yielding' of Roman artifacts of any Roman fort along Hadrian's Wall, which is why the Museum here is full of artifacts.  

A display stated that excavations occur here each summer and visitors are encouraged to interact with archeology field staff. 

Here are some web images of Hadrian's Wall, which we did not get to see. 

in good condition a well-trod footpath to the left a walker on the left side path

Hadrian's Wall is the largest Roman ruin anywhere. 

Not far from Vindolanda is a Roman Army Museum, which supposedly has one of the most scenic parts of the Wall, but we had a long drive to go, and wanted to land at the next overnight stop before dark.  So we ventured forth & crossed back into Scotland. 

Soon after we were at the ruins of Jedburgh Abbey, unfortunately closed for the day.  Photos were taken from as close as we could get.  

crossing the border  


River Jed
  Jedburgh Abbey  




Jedburgh Abbey - Founded in 1136 as a monastery for Cistercian monks.  This Abbey was associated with and somewhat subservient to the Cistercian Abbey at Rievaulx, in Yorkshire.


look for Melrose in southeast Scotland Scottish Borders, look for River Tweed

Generally speaking, the Scottish Borders today are considered to be a scenic & romantic place to visit, with small towns and Abbey ruins, most connected by the River Tweed, but, historically and over a much larger physical area, it was a place where ferocious battles occurred between the most powerful families on both sides of the Scotland-England Border, generally from 1350 to 1650, resulting in three hundred years of chaos, grief, and loss of innocent life.  

Beginning in the 1600s, Stuart Kings in London had to threaten and then forcibly remove powerful Scottish Borders families, like the Douglas or Turnbull clans, in order to bring about some kind of peace. 

After the Union of the Crowns in 1707, Scottish wool could be traded with any English colony, and the main towns in the Scottish Borders (Kelso, Melrose, Peebles, & Galashiels) developed the wool-manufacturing industry, and the local economy thrived. 

Melrose and surrounding towns became the largest producer of wool in Great Britain, and with lasting peace, local farms tended to flourish.  (info here is from a reference cited on the next page)

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