Twenty five years ago my younger son came home from school one day and told me that his Latin teacher was 'looking for mums and dads to do Classical Studies at 'A'level' - apparently he had several 6th formers wanting to do it but not enough for a viable class. Having discovered that Classical studies involved ancient Greek and Roman history, literature, art and architecture I decided to have a go. This was one of the best decisions I've ever made and opened up a whole new world to me. I read Homer, Herodotus, Aristophanes, Plautus, Virgil, Horace, Tacitus and various other authors. I visited the British Museum to look at Greek Vase painting, Fishbourne to see the Roman Palace, Newcastle to see Roman antiquities. Towards the end of our first year Mr Wade suggested that the adults might like to have a week in Athens looking at the Parthenon, the Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus and various other ancient sites - the response was immediate and enthusiastic! The following year we went Rome, Pompeii, Herculaneum and peered into the depths of Mount Vesuvius. After the course was finished the trips continued and we went to Jordan to see the Rose Red City of Petra, sailed up the Nile from Luxor to Aswan visiting all the ancient Egyptian sites,went to Tunisia to visit the wonderfully preserved Roman sites and so on. One place I wanted to visit and never got to was Hadrian's Wall but last week I finally realised that ambition when a group of us from Time Travellers (local archaeology group) went up to Northumberland to walk a couple of sections of the Wall and visit some of the forts that have been excavated. The photos are poor I'm afraid as walking with a group I didn't have the time to do anything other than point and shoot and scurry on after the others:)
We all drove up independently and met up at the Roman Army Museum at Bardon Mill which stands on the site of Carvoran Roman Fort. It's a brilliant museum but sadly one of those 'absolutely no photos' places so all I can do is refer you to the Museum website If you are in the area it is well worth a visit, we saw a superb 3D film called Edge of Empire which happily was available in the shop as a DVD and so has come home with me! After lunch we then drove up to Birdoswald Fort. There was a small exhibition here where I was allowed to take photos and above is a figure of a hooded deity known as genius cucullatus. These native British gods are found only in the north and west of Britain. These are of particular interest to me as in my guise as a member of the Brigantes group I'm (supposedly!) researching the religious beliefs and domestic life of this group. The Brigantes were among the most powerful of the Celtic British tribes and controlled the largest section of what would become Northern England and a good deal of the Midlands too.