North England: Hadrian's Wall

North England: Hadrian's Wall

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Hadrian's Wall, built nearly 2000 years ago by the Romans during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, was a cleverly-designed military rampart manned by 20,000 troops. This 73-mile long undulating wall likely defined and protected the bleak northern edge of Roman Britain from pesky barbarians. Much-loved by hikers and historians, the wall is truly one of England's most thought provoking sights.

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Walking Hadrian’s Wall — roaming through history in the north of England

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by John Scheleur, Arnold, MD

To mark my 60th birthday with something more than just an attempt to blow out 60 candles, my wife and I set out in September ’04 to walk across northern England, following the 84-mile path of Hadrian’s Wall. ‘Why in the world would a man want to travel over 3,000 miles to do this?’ you are asking. Well, he must have a love of history, a love of England and a love of the outdoors — and, according to my wife, be slightly deranged! It turned out to be a fantastic 6-day trip.

A bit of history

First, a brief history lesson. Nearly 2,000 years ago, in A.D. 122 during the Roman occupation of England, Emperor Hadrian ordered a wall be constructed across northern England to “separate the Romans from the barbarians” along the northern frontier, most of which is now Scotland. It eventually took the form of a wall averaging 15 feet high that served its purpose well for over 250 years.

Today only sections of the wall remain intact, but the path is complete, with the “National Trail Guide” by Anthony Burton following the wall as the Romans built it, from Wallsend on the east coast to Bowness-on-Solway on the west.

Walking in this direction violates one of the main rules of cross-country hiking: keeping the prevailing winds at your back, winds which on our trek reached 40 to 60 mph on two days. Still, as a hopeless romantic, I recommend doing it this way so you can end up watching the sun set on the little village of Bowness and the hills of Scotland across the Solway estuary. It’s all about making great memories.

Preparing for the hike

Information about Hadrian’s Wall, including companies to assist you in the walk, can be found online at www.hadrians-wall.org. We made our arrangements through Mike Swan (Brampton Cumbria phone/fax 01434 382620 or visit www.walkinghadrians wall.com). Mike expertly handled all of the B&B bookings as well as the baggage transfer each day to the next night’s lodging. All we had to do was get there each evening!

To manage this, we started a walking regimen about six months earlier, gradually increasing the length of our walks, although we were never able to fit a whole day’s walk into our hectic schedules. Needless to say, we were never able to find time to do the long walks six days in a row, which was our largest concern. As it turned out, being in reasonably good shape, pacing ourselves and with the aid of modern painkillers, we made it!

While it is wise to have good hiking boots, rain gear and food and water, it is wisest to heed the old adage that, when walking, “one mile feels like two.” That the Romans built “milecastles” along the wall and our knowing that the Roman mile measured only 0.9 of ours didn’t make it easier.

The trail

From the industrial town of Wallsend, the trail makes its way down to the Tyne River as it flows along the rejuvenated quayside of Newcastle. The first day was mostly city/suburb walking highlighted by the Millennium Bridge. Day two was mostly pastureland.

Day three was the most strenuous, with a large number of hills and steep ascents and descents. Day four’s route was also hilly but somewhat less demanding.

Day five held more pastureland and suburbs as we arrived in Carlisle, and the final day offered mostly flat coastal land.

Practical matters

I’ll answer the obvious question: ‘Where are the toilets and places to eat along the way?’ The bad news — they are not plentiful. If you can go three hours at a stretch before needing a comfort break, you should be fine.

More bad news — it WILL rain! And it will be muddy and the winds will blow. And you will be going through a lot of cow/sheep pastures, if you get my drift.

Now you’re asking, ‘Why is this man putting his lovely wife through this ordeal?’ Here’s why.

Memorable happenings

We all love to travel, to go to countries where we can see wondrous sights. On this trip, the scenery we encountered was truly spectacular, highlighted by a number of rainbows when the rain stopped and the sun shone — just before the rain started again.

The remains of the Roman wall were ample enough to make us appreciate the engineering feat accomplished so long ago.

The small towns along the wall each had their own flavor. What happened when we left the trail to follow a small sign in Crosby-on-Eden to the Crosby Lodge was pure serendipity!

Instead of following the trail into the small hamlet of Crosby-on-Eden, we saw a sign with an arrow that said Crosby Lodge. As it was about 11 a.m. and we were thinking of lunch, we decided to turn down the lane to see just how far away the lodge was.

About 1,000 yards down, we saw the lady of the lodge at the entrance and we inquired about getting lunch. She replied that it was a little early for their regular service, but she invited us into a parlor that Agatha Christie herself might have decorated and said they would fix us something!

Seated in plush velour chairs, we enjoyed a most delicious lunch while they told us all about the history of the lodge and wished us well on our trek across England.

Meeting the locals

Unless you meet the people who live in a locale, you will never really get to know it. Walking through their farmlands and small towns, eating in local establishments and staying at B&Bs — with time spent over the breakfast table not only with the owners but with fellow hikers from all over England — were just the best of experiences!

We had time to share feelings about our lives and hometowns. We talked politics, religion, family — even cricket! We were able to form a comradeship around the same goal: completing the walk.

We all had started this trek in small numbers, but we ended up six days later a group of 15 new friends, celebrating over drinks and dinner at the Kings Arms pub in Bowness. A chill was in the air that blew in off the estuary that night, but there was no need for the fireplace in the pub — we could not help but feel the warmth!

As the evening came to a close, one of the gentlemen who had obviously downed many a pint in the Kings Arms in his day remarked that we should be really happy we did the Hadrian’s Wall walk, as we were making history. When he saw the puzzled look on my face he said, “Not many people have walked the entire wall from end to end. The Romans were never THAT crazy!”

Well, I guess I’m crazy enough to want to do it all over again someday. Excuse me a second, I think my wife is saying something. . . .

by John Scheleur, Arnold, MD

To mark my 60th birthday with something more than just an attempt to blow out 60 candles, my wife and I set out in September ’04 to walk across northern England, following the 84-mile path of Hadrian’s Wall. ‘Why in the world would a man want to travel over 3,000 miles to do this?’ you are asking. Well, he must have a love of history, a love of England and a love of the outdoors — and, according to my wife, be slightly deranged! It turned out to be a fantastic 6-day trip.

A bit of history

First, a brief history lesson. Nearly 2,000 years ago, in A.D. 122 during the Roman occupation of England, Emperor Hadrian ordered a wall be constructed across northern England to “separate the Romans from the barbarians” along the northern frontier, most of which is now Scotland. It eventually took the form of a wall averaging 15 feet high that served its purpose well for over 250 years.

Today only sections of the wall remain intact, but the path is complete, with the “National Trail Guide” by Anthony Burton following the wall as the Romans built it, from Wallsend on the east coast to Bowness-on-Solway on the west.

Walking in this direction violates one of the main rules of cross-country hiking: keeping the prevailing winds at your back, winds which on our trek reached 40 to 60 mph on two days. Still, as a hopeless romantic, I recommend doing it this way so you can end up watching the sun set on the little village of Bowness and the hills of Scotland across the Solway estuary. It’s all about making great memories.

Preparing for the hike

Information about Hadrian’s Wall, including companies to assist you in the walk, can be found online at www.hadrians-wall.org. We made our arrangements through Mike Swan (Brampton Cumbria phone/fax 01434 382620 or visit www.walkinghadrians wall.com). Mike expertly handled all of the B&B bookings as well as the baggage transfer each day to the next night’s lodging. All we had to do was get there each evening!

To manage this, we started a walking regimen about six months earlier, gradually increasing the length of our walks, although we were never able to fit a whole day’s walk into our hectic schedules. Needless to say, we were never able to find time to do the long walks six days in a row, which was our largest concern. As it turned out, being in reasonably good shape, pacing ourselves and with the aid of modern painkillers, we made it!

While it is wise to have good hiking boots, rain gear and food and water, it is wisest to heed the old adage that, when walking, “one mile feels like two.” That the Romans built “milecastles” along the wall and our knowing that the Roman mile measured only 0.9 of ours didn’t make it easier.

The trail

From the industrial town of Wallsend, the trail makes its way down to the Tyne River as it flows along the rejuvenated quayside of Newcastle. The first day was mostly city/suburb walking highlighted by the Millennium Bridge. Day two was mostly pastureland.

Day three was the most strenuous, with a large number of hills and steep ascents and descents. Day four’s route was also hilly but somewhat less demanding.

Day five held more pastureland and suburbs as we arrived in Carlisle, and the final day offered mostly flat coastal land.

Practical matters

I’ll answer the obvious question: ‘Where are the toilets and places to eat along the way?’ The bad news — they are not plentiful. If you can go three hours at a stretch before needing a comfort break, you should be fine.

More bad news — it WILL rain! And it will be muddy and the winds will blow. And you will be going through a lot of cow/sheep pastures, if you get my drift.

Now you’re asking, ‘Why is this man putting his lovely wife through this ordeal?’ Here’s why.

Memorable happenings

We all love to travel, to go to countries where we can see wondrous sights. On this trip, the scenery we encountered was truly spectacular, highlighted by a number of rainbows when the rain stopped and the sun shone — just before the rain started again.

The remains of the Roman wall were ample enough to make us appreciate the engineering feat accomplished so long ago.

The small towns along the wall each had their own flavor. What happened when we left the trail to follow a small sign in Crosby-on-Eden to the Crosby Lodge was pure serendipity!

Instead of following the trail into the small hamlet of Crosby-on-Eden, we saw a sign with an arrow that said Crosby Lodge. As it was about 11 a.m. and we were thinking of lunch, we decided to turn down the lane to see just how far away the lodge was.

About 1,000 yards down, we saw the lady of the lodge at the entrance and we inquired about getting lunch. She replied that it was a little early for their regular service, but she invited us into a parlor that Agatha Christie herself might have decorated and said they would fix us something!

Seated in plush velour chairs, we enjoyed a most delicious lunch while they told us all about the history of the lodge and wished us well on our trek across England.

Meeting the locals

Unless you meet the people who live in a locale, you will never really get to know it. Walking through their farmlands and small towns, eating in local establishments and staying at B&Bs — with time spent over the breakfast table not only with the owners but with fellow hikers from all over England — were just the best of experiences!

We had time to share feelings about our lives and hometowns. We talked politics, religion, family — even cricket! We were able to form a comradeship around the same goal: completing the walk.

We all had started this trek in small numbers, but we ended up six days later a group of 15 new friends, celebrating over drinks and dinner at the Kings Arms pub in Bowness. A chill was in the air that blew in off the estuary that night, but there was no need for the fireplace in the pub — we could not help but feel the warmth!

As the evening came to a close, one of the gentlemen who had obviously downed many a pint in the Kings Arms in his day remarked that we should be really happy we did the Hadrian’s Wall walk, as we were making history. When he saw the puzzled look on my face he said, “Not many people have walked the entire wall from end to end. The Romans were never THAT crazy!”

Well, I guess I’m crazy enough to want to do it all over again someday. Excuse me a second, I think my wife is saying something. . . .


Stretching 36 miles, the wall overlooked the fertile Midland Valley and dominated the neck of Scotland. A British tribe called the Damnonii inhabited this area of Scotland, not to be confused with the Dumnonii tribe in Cornwall.

Each fort consisted of a front-line auxiliary garrison that would have endured a gruelling daily service: long sentry duties, patrols beyond the frontier, maintaining the defences, weapons training and courier services to name just a few expected duties.

Smaller forts, or fortlets, were situated between each main fort – the equivalent of the milecastles the Romans placed along the length of Hadrian’s Wall.

Forts and Fortlets associated with the Antonine Wall. Credit: myself / Commons.


Know a Ruin: Hadrian’s Wall – The Roman Marvel in the North of England

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The Romans came to Britain in 43 A.D. to make the Sceptred Isle part of their empire. The Romans worked their way up Great Britain, getting as far as the Tyne-Solway Isthmus. The forts in this area were then linked by a road that ran from Corbridge to Carlisle. The decision to build the wall was likely made before Emperor Hadrian’s visit in 122. The general belief was that the wall was built as protection from the Picts to the North, but another theory scholars formulated is that, following revolts against Roman rule over the previous decades (including Boudicca’s famous attack on London), the wall was constructed as a show of power. Scholars believe that by building the wall, the Romans could intimidate the Britons into trying any further uprisings.

Whether for protection from without or a display of power for those within, Emperor Hadrian ordered the construction while on his tour of Roman Britain, and the work was carried out over a period of six years. The original plan for the wall had a stone foundation with a guarded gate every mile and two observation towers in-between. By the end of construction, there were fourteen fortresses every five Roman miles for a modern length of seventy-three miles. Its height is believed to have been between thirteen-to-fifteen feet with a Vallum (or a ditch made from earthworks) that was twenty feet wide and ten feet deep.

While the legionaries built the wall, auxiliaries made up its primary staff. Regiments were made up of some 500 – 1,000 soldiers and cavalry and each fort was made to hold one auxiliary regiment. In addition to the infantry and cavalry members, there were any number of camp followers. These people were not permitted to settle between the wall and the Vallum, though archaeological evidence suggests that they settled on the Roman side and by the 3 rd Century had an urban sprawl that spread well beyond the forts.

Despite all this, Hadrian’s Wall ceased to be a primary fortification less than twenty years after it was finished. On Hadrian’s death in 138, the new Emperor, Antoninus Pius moved the Empire’s fortifications further north, constructing what is known as the Antonine Wall which was constructed between 142 – 154. However, only eight years after its completion, the Antonine Wall was abandoned, with the auxiliary units returning to Hadrian’s Wall in 162. Eighteen years later, a major attack by the northern tribes that caused a reevaluation of the wall and redeployment of forces along it.

The Antonine Wall would be manned again when Emperor Septimius Severus came north in an attempt to conquer Scotland (then known as Caledonia). The results of this campaign were dubious and the Romans ended up falling back to Hadrian’s Wall again. This is where the Romans would remain until the year 410 when the Romans effectively removed themselves from Britain. A combination of invading barbarians from all over the Empire forced them to withdraw in an attempt to fortify what was left of the Roman Empire.

In some cases, with the Roman withdrawal, it’s unclear exactly what took place at the wall after they left. Some reports suggest one general became a local chieftain. In any event, people in the surrounding areas helped to hasten the wall’s ruination by carrying off much of the stone for roads and other construction projects. Hadrian’s Wall would continue to decay until 1834 when John Clayton began buying up the property surrounding the wall to keep locals from continuing to carry away pieces of it. Eventually, generations after Clayton’s efforts, the properties would fall under the care of the National Trust, who operate Hadrian’s Wall as Northern England’s most popular tourist site. Additionally, the wall became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

Today, Hadrian’s Wall is maintained by English Heritage. There is also Hadrian’s Wall National Trail that runs the length of the wall from Wallsend to Bowness-on-Solway. Several sections have significant portions available to visit and learn more about Roman Britain.


Hadrian’s Wall

After they invaded Britain in AD43, the Romans quickly established control over southern England. The conquest of the ‘wild barbarians’ in the North however was not going to be so easy.

In the AD70’s and 80’s the Roman commander Agricola led a series of major assaults on the barbarian tribes of northern England and the Scottish lowlands. Despite a successful campaign into Scotland, the Romans failed in the long term to hold on to any lands gained. Forts and signal posts were built back in the lowlands linked by the Stanegate road which ran from the waters of the Tyne in the East to the Solway estuary in the West.

Some four decades later in around AD122, with the barbarians still untamed, these lowland forts were again under intense hostile pressure. A visit by the Emperor Hadrian that year to review the border problems at the boundaries of his empire led to a more radical solution. He ordered the building of an immense barrier stretching over eighty Roman miles from the west coast of Britain to the east. Built of stone in the east and initially of turf in the west (because lime for mortar was not available) Hadrian’s Wall took at least six years to complete.

Above: Milecastle 35 (also known as Sewingshields)

Approximately 10ft (3m) in width and 15ft (4.6m) in height, with a parapet on the north side giving an overall height of 20ft (6m), to potential invaders the structure emphasised the power and might of Rome. As if to reinforce this, 80 milecastles are spaced one Roman mile apart along its entire length.

By AD 138 the Romans, perhaps with a few scores to settle, again sought to civilise the northerners with a new campaign into Scotland. This time a new frontier, the Antonine Wall, was rapidly established between the Forth and Clyde rivers and Hadrian’s Wall was promptly abandoned. By about AD160 however the Romans were again persuaded by the Scots that they did not wish to be civilised and were forced to relocate back to Hadrian’s Wall. So concerned about the reception they had received in the north, the Romans undertook to replace the remaining stretch of turf wall with a more substantial stone structure.

Above: A section of vallum (defensive earthwork) in the foreground, with the wall in the background.

The Romans maintained and occupied the Wall into the fourth century AD, resisting several further barbarian raids from the persistent northern tribes. Little is known of the effects on the Wall of the barbarian conspiracy when in AD367 hostile tribes from all over Britain attacked together. Shortly after this, drained of garrison troops by successive withdrawls, Hadrian’s Wall was finally abandoned.

Today, spectacular stretches of the Wall remain over some of the most rugged countryside to be found in the British Isles. Glimpses of Roman organisation, religion and culture remain in view along the Wall at the various forts, milecastles, temples, museums etc. Hadrian’s Wall is without doubt the most prominent and important monument left by the Romans in Britain. It captures dramatic images of a Britain divided by conflict and occupation.

Where to see the Wall

Hadrian’s Wall Bus – runs daily in the summer between Carlisle and Hexham stopping at visitor attractions along the route. Each bus connects with rail and bus services in Carlisle, Haltwhistle and Hexham. A knowledgeable and friendly guide is often aboard weekend services. Limited winter service. Contact: 01434 344777 / 322002

Roman Sites – Please click on the following link to view our interactive map detailing the Roman Sites in Britain.

Getting around Britain – Please click on the following link to view our UK Travel Guide


Why was the Wall Built?

In that way, a function, probably the chief function, of the Wall, was frontier control, just like modern frontier barriers. here the army enforced the regulations which governed access to the empire. It would appear, from comments about other frontiers, that people could only enter the empire at designated points and travel unarmed and under military escort to specified markets or other places. The Wall would also help to prevent raiding which we know happended on all frontiers. The purpose of the auxilliary units based in the frontier area was entirely different it was military defence - as well as the protection and policing of the provincials. The placing of forts on the line of the Wall obscured the difference between these two functions. Analysis of the location of the Wall in the landscape indicates that it was not always placed in the best position if defence was the main criterion.

It may also be considered that the Wall formed but one part of a wider system of frontier control. Cavalry are attested at many forts on the line of the Wall. To use these soldiers as frontier guards would be a waste of their skills it is more likely that they patrolled the area to the north. Certainly later scouting to the north of the Wall is attested as well as treaties between the Romans and their northern neighbours.


Archaeologists baffled after spotting mystifying change in Hadrian’s Wall barracks

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Hadrian's Wall: Archaeologists uncover &lsquounknown part&rsquo

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The Roman Empire's conquest of Britain began almost 2,000 years ago. It changed the face of the country forever. Roman culture, food, art, as well as the myriad religions that were practiced across the Empire were brought to the island's shores.

Related articles

To occupy and cordon off swathes of land the Romans erected forts and walls around Britain, many of which survive today.

One of the most notable pieces is Hadrian's Wall.

Stretching 73 miles from the banks of the River Tyne near the North Sea, all the way west to the Solway Firth near the Irish Sea, work on the Wall started in 122 AD.

This was nearly 100 years after the Romans first invaded Britain.

Archaeology news: The barracks at one of the sites at Hadrian's Wall has baffled researchers (Image: GETTY)

Roman Empire: The imperial power colonised lands from Syria to Britain (Image: GETTY)

People from all over the Empire trickled into the country, some of whom came from as far away as modern-day Iran and Syria.

Soldiers would have completed campaigns in Britain, staying for months or sometimes years.

An old barracks at Hadrian's Wall where these soldiers once stayed was explored during History Hit's documentary, 'Hadrian's Wall: Building the Wall'.

Frances McIntosh, the Wall's English Heritage curator, shed light on the mystifying layout of one of the ancient garrisons at the Housesteads site in Northumberland, and revealed how it has baffled researchers.

Hadrian's Wall: The Wall as pictured near the site of Housesteads where the unusual barracks is (Image: GETTY)

Trending

Commanders traditionally enjoyed "luxurious quarters" with modern and spacious living areas that allowed for privacy - a sought after commodity in the often cramped conditions.

Everyday soldiers were often forced to sleep eight to a room in cube-shaped spaces.

Yet, in the second half of the Romans' time in Britain, Ms McIntosh said: "In the fourth century, the soldiers' barracks were amended and we don't know if that's because the treatment was different, maybe families were allowed to move in, but they're no longer just eight men in a room.

"They're what are known as 'chalet barracks', so they got separated.

Frances McIntosh: The Wall's curator admitted that she and her colleagues are unsure about the site (Image: History Hit)

Barracks: The Housesteads barracks are individually separated rather than being under one roof (Image: History Hit)

"It's not one block split into rooms, they're split into individual buildings.

"There's actually gaps between each room, each block.

"It's a really nice example of how much things change in the 300-year period the site was occupied."

Barracks at South Shields and other locations along the Wall are segmented and small though connected.

But the discovery at Housesteads is unparalleled.

Archaeological discoveries: Some of the most groundbreaking archaeological discoveries on record (Image: Express Newspapers)

The only explanation researchers have offered thus far is that the Empire simply changed its operation by the time the Housesteads barracks were built.

Although this has left many unsatisfied.

Talking through the setup, Ms McIntosh said: "This one is about the same size, but we just don't know how many men would be in here and what the layout would be.

Roman history: The wall spans 73 miles across the north of England (Image: History Hit)

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"For some reason, they've fully separated it, so it's not just that it's a wall separating each room, it's fully separated into an individual building.

"We don't know why, and Housesteads is only one of the places it's been found, but we presume it happened at other forts as well, as the garrison of the fort changed and the makeup of the troops changed."


Black Romans in Britain

Case study: North African soldiers at Aballava (Burgh-by-Sands)
Richard Paul Benjamin, Postgraduate Researcher University of Liverpool
Alan M. Greaves, Lecturer University of Liverpool

Black Romans were Stationed in Britain

There is an on-going debate regarding the presence or otherwise of black people in Britain in antiquity. The basic problem with this kind of research has always been the reliability and availability of source materials and the analytical methods by which we study them.

The most celebrated example of black Romans in Britain, is the case of the Roman military garrison at the fort of Burgh-by-Sands, on Hadrian’s wall in Cumbria. A fourth century inscription tells us that the Roman auxiliary unit Numerus Maurorum Aurelianorum was stationed at Aballava, modern-day Burgh-by-Sands. This unit had been mustered in the Roman province of Mauretania in North Africa, modern Morocco.

It is often forgotten that Rome’s African provinces were some of its most important and it has been suggested that there may have been a black Roman Emperor (Septimus Severus). There are in fact several inscriptions found in Britain that mention the Emperor Septimus Severus. It is generally accepted that Septimus Severus was born in Numidia, also in North Africa and there is the possibility that the unit Numerus Maurorum Aurelianorum was brought to Britain around AD 193-211 during his reign.

It was recently suggested that African DNA might be found to be present in the local populations near to Hadrian’s Wall, for instance Burgh-by-Sands. However, this would not conclusively show that the black Roman soldiers on the wall intermarried with the local population because of the problem of admixture. Admixture is a process whereby the DNA of a population becomes diluted over time and it cannot be shown at what period in time that dilution took place.

Sir Walter Bodmer, a leading geneticist, believes that it would be exceedingly unlikely that any connection between North African soldiers stationed on the Wall could be detected within modern-day inhabitants of the area. It would be difficult to distinguish between the genetic traits of North African Roman soldiers and that of any later influxes of African DNA into the local gene pool.

Although the contribution of advances in the study of DNA to other areas of archaeological research has been enormous, this has not been the case here. Archaeologists are forced, until there can be further excavations at the site to recover skeletons of the soldiers or advances in DNA technology as a result of the Human Genome Project, to continue relying on the older and more “scholarly” pursuit of epigraphy (the study of inscriptions) to answer these questions.

The Roman fort at Burgh-by-Sands (ancient Aballava) lay at the western end of Hadrian’s Wall in Cumbria. The site was occupied from around the second to fourth centuries AD. Our evidence for this unit consists of an inscription found in 1934 at the village of Beaumont two miles east of Burgh-by-Sands on the banks of the River Eden and a passage in the Notita Dignitatum, a Roman list of officials and dignitaries.

The Beaumont inscription, which is written in the stylised Latin of a standard Roman military inscription, was carved into an altar stone dedicated to the god Jupiter (king of the gods). It reads:

“To Jupiter Best and Greatest and the Majesty of our two emperors, to the genius (guardian spirit) of the numerous (unit) of Aurelian Moors, Valerianus’ and Gallienus’ own, Caelius Vibianus, cohort-tribune in charge of the above-mentioned numerous, [set up this altar] through the agency of Julius Rufinus, senior centurion.” (See Fig.1)

As the name, Aurelianorum suggests the unit was named in honour of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (AD 161-180). Recently popularised in the film ‘Gladiator’. It is unlikely that the unit was formed just to be placed in one of the Empire’s farthest postings, and they had probably already seen active service before their posting to Burgh-by-Sands. More than likely the unit will have been blooded in battles in Germany (Germania) and the Danube (Dacia), where inscriptions mention a unit of Moors involved in these campaigns. The Roman Empire was constantly at war during the reign of Marcus Aurelius and therefore many units across the Empire will have been destroyed or weakened by battle.

Inscribed altar stone dedicated to Jupiter

Our second piece of evidence is the Notitia Dignitatum, a list of Roman dignitaries that includes the passage, ” prefect of the numerous of Aurelian Moors at Aballava.” Together, these two pieces of evidence firmly place a unit of Moors on Hadrian’s Wall, although the precise date of the occupation at the fort of Aballava is unknown. Their exact number is also unknown, although a small fort like Aballava could hold upwards of 500 men. We do not know where they were stationed before Aballava or where they went afterwards, but we do know that they were there.

It is not at all well known that North African Roman soldiers were stationed on Hadrian’s Wall. Although it is tempting to think of the local inhabitants of Burgh-by-Sands as still having genetic traits of those black soldiers this cannot be confirmed. Sir Walter Bodmer does not categorically dismiss the possibility but he outlines the difficulties that are faced in trying to show this.

For us to securely link a unit of North African soldiers with the site at Burgh-by-Sands we must still rely on more traditional methods of scholarly investigation, in this case, epigraphy. The inscription and textual evidence available at present brings us to the conclusion that a unit of North Africans were stationed at Burgh-by-Sands but we cannot show that they intermarried whilst stationed there. For us to find African artefacts and the DNA of African soldiers themselves a full-scale archaeological excavation would have to be organised at the site. Only a methodical and modern archaeological excavation at the fort has the possibility of furthering our knowledge into a fascinating episode of the early black presence in British history.

Related Links

Bibliography
Breeze, D., & Dobson, B., 2000, Hadrian’s Wall, Penguin, London.
Frere, S., 1987, Tabula Imperii Romani-Britannia Septentrionalis, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Frere,S., 1995, The Roman Inscriptions of Britain II, Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd, Stroud.

Maxfield, V., 1981, The Military Decorations of the Roman Army, B.T.Batsford Ltd, London.

Snowden Jr., F., 1970, Blacks in Antiquity, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, USA.
Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmoreland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society,
Volumes: 1923, 1936, 1939, Titus Wilson & Son, Highgate.

Van Sertima, I., 1990, African Presence in Early Europe, Transaction Books, USA.

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8 thoughts on &ldquo Black Romans in Britain &rdquo

Septimius Severus was descended from Roman colonists, with possibly some Carthaginian (Phoenecian) admixture, so NOT native African.
Moors are of Berber stock. There was little tran Saharan travel or contact, so VERY FEW IF ANY black i.e. sub Saharan, Africans present
in the Classical world. This mostly came much later as a consequence
of Muslim trading, and slave taking, because of advances in ship
technology etc. It is falsifying history to claim that the above evidence shows that black soldiers were brought in large numbers to Britain by the Romans. Moors are not the same as blacks, and genetically the berbers are closely related to the Lapps of Norway.

Dan clearly you read that somewhere. The moors were Arabs and Black Africans. Was and still is a great mixing of cultures and people. The Crusaders themselves described “Moors” and “blackamoors” as some were black. You only need to take a look though Britain’s put names, “the saracens head, the moors head, the blacks head” .

What movie is the photo from?

I’m afraid – for the interests of the above article – that Dan is absolutely correct. Mentioning evidence from the Middle Ages gets us nowhere, since that age postdates the Arab invasion of North Africa. The Mauri of ancient times were, in all, likelihood, similar to the Numidians of what is now northern Algeria and Tunisia.

In reference to Aballava, there is a great deal of tendentious hypothesis and presumption in the article. While it is likely that individual soldiers in Roman units on or near Hadrian’s Wall were black Africans, the numerus Maurorum was, almost certainly, not a black unit. They were recruited, I suppose, from the Atlas Mountain area, since the Lake District and southern Scotland would have been very similar terrain for them. Compare, e.g., the unit of Marsh Arabs (from southern Iraq) who were recruited to patrol the marshy estuary of the Tyne (numerus barcariorum Tigrisiensium).

Terry Walsh it would be of your best interest to do away modern assumptions of the past, which includes your interpretation that modern North Africans and Middle Easterners are exactly the same physically, culturally, linguistically, and genetically as their ancient counterparts.

The ranting guy and yourself are of the illusion that the Berbers, a population in North Africa, that is only united under language and similar culture, instead of race are the same, as well as the Arabs, a group that is also united under language and is more like a nationality than an ethnicity, whom originally occupied the Arabian peninsula and disperse from their homeland in the 7th century are exactly of the same appearance.

Let me start off by saying that both these two racially heterogeneous groups were not what you might of thought, which is either an olive skinned and stereotypical multi racial people, that is neither White nor Black, contrary to belief the indigenous inhabitants North Africa and the Middle East were not multiracial to the extent we see today, that not to say that there were no intermixing in these areas, but still, most of the people that inhabited these regions were nonetheless assume to be of a Black complexion. Also, I must add that the term Sub Saharan Africa did not exist.

Still your idea that parts of the area did not have contact with the Greco-Roman world would be comparable to that of the Steppes and the Orient, that they made contact but not to the extent that they did with Southern Europe, The Near East, and Northern Africa, including the Sahara and the heartland of Abyssinia.

As you can see, based on the various descriptions of the inhabitants of North Africa and the Middle East, it would be of reasonable assumption that these people were Black, but I digress. Now the Berbers as a group were always noted to being of a Black complexion with woolly hair, by the ancients.

In fact, it was simply an identifier of sorts. you had phases such as “Woolly hair as Moor” and “Black as a Moor”, the term Blackamoor or Blackamore is a shortened version of the previous phase. Now Moor itself, though the meaning had changed countless times, meant ‘Black”, then it evolved to into Black Muslim in the late Renaissance period to its modern definition, North African Muslim. Also, ‘Black” in the sense of the Greeks and Romans were not in the same used as in the English German, and other languages that were known to use Black in context. In the sense of the Greeks and Romans used they constantly used “Black” symbolically or as a descriptor to a group of people, this example can also be applied to the Persians, Syrians, and the colourism amongst the Arabs.

When “Black” used to describe the Berbers they simple didn’t differentiate the word when describing other African populations, that were obviously Black, such groups such as the Nubians, Abyssinians, Zanj, and other African populations. Modern North Africans are a product of a mixture of different peoples from Europe and Asia, with Africans. the demographic change in North Africa can no more be described as a Medieval phenomenon, than a prehistoric phenomenon though, there is some evidence for a back to Africa migration, occurring, but was mostly with the Near East and not only did ancient North Africans had some Asian admixture, but Eastern, Central, and even Some Western African populations did, but not the weight as their modern counterparts or to the sense they genetically clustered with Non-Africans.

Western Asian migration didn’t displace the previous inhabitants, but simply intermixed with them. despite this, however, base on the body-plan of ancient North Africans and Middle Easterners alike, they were mostly a tropical and arid-adapted people, which translate to being a heat adapted population, instead of a cold-adapted population like Europeans, Central Asians, and Eastern Asians. Which means they had were dark in complexion like Africans and Southern Asians, the two groups noted to being the darkest people in the world. therefore the various people that migrated back to Africa in prehistoric times were most likely as dark as the previous natives.

Also, I must point out the misconception about Africans themselves. Modern-day Africans carried with it a vast amount of genetic diversity than the entire world combined, 90% genetic diversity to be exact. Which means that those that you characterized as being Mediterranean, Hamitic, or Caucasoid, is just an expression of African diversity instead of a population having affinities to Whites.

The skull shape itself is all evident, because of the that many anthropologists characterized these skulls as dolichocephalic or elongated, a descriptor that was used to stereotype African populations in looking one way, thus the Hamitic race was born. Somalis, Ethiopians, the Tutsi, Nubians, along with some sahelian groups were grouped as Hamites along with the ancient Berbers and the ancient Egyptians, based on their remains, as well as their modern counterparts. The admixture among modern Arabs can also be characterized as being mostly a Medieval phenomenon, due to fact various people both Black and White became Arabized in culture.

The inhabitants of Arabia were also noted in medieval times as being Black skinned, to the extent that one Islamic scholar proclaimed that “The Arabs used to take pride in their Black and Brown complexion and had a distaste for a Red(White) complexion and would say this was a complexion of the Non-Arabs”.

This description plays well to the idea of the inhabitants of the Arabian peninsula intermixing with other groups of Syrian, Iranian, Caucasian, Turkish, Central Asian, and European origin. Not only this, but an Arab man of Zanj descent, commonly known as Al Jahiz wrote a book, that uplifted the Black peoples, such as the Zanj to start a rebellion against the mixed-race Abbasid dynasty. he literally called his book, “The Glory Of The Blacks Over The Whites” and he proclaimed that the Arabs were apart of the Black race.

He wrote this in the tenth century. So your idea that both the Middle East and North Africa were exactly like their ancient counterparts is not based on fact. These two regions had experienced mass migrations over the last 2000 years. intermixing and displacements were common during that time because the North African population was always small.

Transportation of renegades and slaves, as well as migrations of various other people seeking refuge an example of this is the Moorish Expulsion from the Iberian peninsula, where you had Iberian Muslims come settled in the Maghreb and the migration of the Syrians, Iranian groups, Scythian, and Turkomen interested in settling in the Crescent, the Levant, and Arabian peninsula as traders and merchants.

Perhaps Dna is very dilute, but when I lived near Abbeytown there was a local family that had tight curly hair. African hair only blond. Thinking of my own family, the Broughs originated in Brough by sands and some of them had very frizzy hair.

“Terry Walsh it would be of your best interest to do away modern assumptions of the past, which includes your interpretation that modern North Africans and Middle Easterners are exactly the same physically, culturally, linguistically, and genetically as their ancient counterparts.”

This misrepresents what I wrote – the rest of your piece has little or nothing to do with the point I was making. I make no ‘assumptions’ about the past.

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North East England

North East England is the region of England that lies east of the Pennines between the River Tees and the Scottish border. It centres around the River Tyne, with Newcastle on the north bank and Gateshead on the south bank, and industrial sprawl south along the coast. Inland lies a string of former coal-mining towns, whose produce fed the ship-building and other heavy industry of the region and was exported worldwide. "Sending coals to Newcastle" used to be a common phrase for a pointless activity, and generations of travellers would have felt the same about visiting the North East for leisure.

They should think again. First, most of this region has never been industrial, and has outstanding natural beauty. Hadrian's Wall snakes over dale and hill along the crest of a sharp ridge. Along the coast, windswept castles raise defiant stone fists against invaders and the elements. Northumberland National Park has wild tracts of moorland and dark, dark skies - the Northern Lights are often seen. Charming small towns include Hexham, Corrbridge, Alnwick and border town Berwick. Durham's old city centre is remarkably well preserved. And second, the industrial areas are re-inventing themselves, Newcastle with Gateshead being the most successful example. This region is no longer a rusty blur on the journey between Yorkshire and Scotland, it's a major area to visit in its own right. Come soon before the rest of the world discovers it.

County Durham
The highlight is the city of 54.783333333333 -1.5666666666667 1 Durham . Its well-preserved old centre has an outstanding cathedral and Norman castle. The village of Beamish has a large open-air museum. To the west are the Pennine hills, with the River Tees rushing over High Force waterfall.
Tyne and Wear
You'll know you're there when you see the Angel of the North, a giant copper-coloured sculpture towering over the A1. The area revolves around buzzing 54.977777777778 -1.6133333333333 2 Newcastle upon Tyne , with a graceful Victorian main street, and one of Europe's largest shopping malls at Metro Centre. The south bank of the Tyne is a separate town, 54.95 -1.6 3 Gateshead , with the Baltic Gallery.
Northumberland
This is mostly rural, with a long lonely coastline dotted with castles - mostly scenic ruins, but 55.4050965 -1.7152155 4 Alnwick just inland has a more comfortable bastion. The coast culminates in 55.68 -1.8025 1 Lindisfarne , the "Holy Island", and the Scottish border just beyond 55.771 -2.007 5 Berwick-upon-Tweed . 55.024166666667 -2.2925 2 Hadrian's Wall , built by the Romans to keep the wild Picts at bay, stretches for 80 miles from coast to coast. 54.966666666667 -2.1 6 Hexham is a charming small town close to the wall, and 55.316666666667 -2.2166666666667 3 Northumberland National Park stretches over windswept moors.

The North East is England's most northern and sparsely populated region. The area has a very long and bloody history, due to its proximity to Scotland and has fallen under Scottish hands at least once as the border shifted over time.

By plane Edit

  • 55.0375 -1.691667 1Newcastle Airport ( NCLIATA ). This medium-sized airport has good flight connections from Europe plus Dubai, London Heathrow, Stansted and other UK cities. It's on A696 six miles northwest of city centre with a good metro service into town and to the main railway station. ( updated Jul 2020 )
  • Consider Manchester (MANIATA ) for flights beyond Europe. It's obviously further, but it has global connections, competitive prices, and a good train service from the airport to North East England.
  • Teeside (MMEIATA ) near Darlington is small, with scheduled flights only from Amsterdam, Aberdeen, Belfast City and London City. Onward public transport is poor.

By rail Edit

The East Coast mainline runs north from London Kings Cross via York, with direct trains hourly to Darlington (2 hrs 20), Durham (2 hrs 50), and Newcastle (3 hrs). Other routes from Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and the southwest join at York. The line continues north to Berwick-upon-Tweed and Edinburgh. Branch lines serve Middlesbrough and Sunderland.

By road Edit

The major routes across the region are mostly dual-carriageway. Near the cities they can be very congested in rush hour - which includes fine Sunday afternoons as city-dwellers head home from the countryside. The main roads are:

  • A1 from the south, passing Darlington, Durham and Newcastle, then continuing to Berwick-upon-Tweed and Edinburgh
  • A19 branches off A1 in Yorkshire and runs north nearer the coast, via Middlesbrough and Sunderland to Newcastle
  • A69 connects Newcastle and Carlisle
  • A66 (several long sections undivided) runs from Darlington over the Pennines to meet M6 at Penrith in the Lake District
  • A68 (an undivided highway) switch-backs across the hills from Darlington to Jedburgh and Edinburgh

All the main towns have a daily coach service to London Victoria.

By boat Edit

Ferries run overnight between North Shields (7 miles east of Newcastle) and IJmuiden near Amsterdam.

Public transport in this region is good along the north-south lowland corridor (connecting London with Scotland) and to the industrial towns near the coast. Towards the hilly west, transport routes follow the river valleys so east-west is straightforward, but you need your own wheels to go north-south across the moors.

By rail Edit

The East Coast Main Line runs north from London via York with stations at Darlington, Durham, Chester-le-Street, Newcastle, Morpeth, Alnmouth and Berwick-upon-Tweed, continuing to Edinburgh. All trains stop at Newcastle, the others are served every hour or so.

Hourly trains run along the coast from Newcastle via Heworth, Sunderland and Seaham to Hartlepool, Stockton and Middlesbrough. In County Durham, a branch line train runs hourly from Darlington to Newton Aycliffe, Shildon and Bishop Auckland.

The scenic Tyne Valley line runs parallel to Hadrian's Wall, from Newcastle via Gateshead, Prudhoe, Hexham, Haydon Bridge and Haltwhistle and onwards across Cumbria to Carlisle.

The Tyne and Wear Metro serves Newcastle and Sunderland. The Yellow Line is a big inverted "@" that runs from Newcastle city centre, east to the coast at North Shields then north to Whitley Bay, before looping back to Newcastle via Gosforth and Jesmond. Its southern tail runs south of the Tyne via Gateshead to South Shields on the coast. The Green Line runs from Newcastle Airport to city centre then southeast to Sunderland and ends at South Hylton.

By road Edit

The road network in the North East is decent, however traffic can build up severely, particularly on approaches to cities and on the A1 and A19 roads. For this reason it is often best to use public transport to get around the region, especially in urban areas.

By bus Edit

The North East has many buses, which are provided by a range of operators. There are some tickets that are only valid on certain operators, so it is worth checking which bus you are getting on. In particular, some bus numbers are used by multiple operators, which can get very confusing. An Explorer Ticket, valid on all bus services across the North East (as well as some in neighboring parts of North Yorkshire and the service to Carlisle), costs £10.50 for an adult for one day.

Most towns and cities have some kind of internal bus route as well as longer range buses that run from town to town. Some of the more useful intra-regional bus routes are:

7: Durham to Darlington 10: Newcastle to Hexham 21: Newcastle to Durham 45: Newcastle to Consett X7: Sunderland to Middlesbrough X10: Newcastle to Middlesbrough X11: Newcastle to Blyth X15: Newcastle to Berwick (fast) X18: Newcastle to Berwick (scenic) X21: Newcastle to Newbiggin by the Sea X21: Newcastle to Stanhope X21: Newcastle to Bishop Auckland X21: Sunderland to Darlington

Some buses take scenic routes, such as the X18, AD122 (a bus for Hadrian's Wall) and even normal buses will still provide views of the picturesque scenery.

By bike Edit

Several cycle routes pass through the area and this can be a quick way to get around the region. In particular, National Cycling Route 1 runs along the coast and is arguably one of the most scenic routes in the country around places such as Bamburgh.

By ferry Edit

The Shields Ferry crosses the mouth of the Tyne between South Shields and North Shields every 30 mins, a seven-minute ride. Foot passengers and bikes only both ferry piers are served by the Metro.

The Tees Transporter Bridge is a weird contraption: it's a gondola slung beneath a slender metal bridge that carries vehicles and others across the river between Middlesbrough (south bank) and Port Clarence, Stockton (north bank).

On foot Edit

Last but not least, the North East benefits from having small cities because they are all easily walkable. It is easy to walk across Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough despite these being the biggest cities in the area.

Eating out in North East England is very much dependent on where you are. Fresh fish can be found at many of the coastal towns such as Redcar. Fast food chains, Italian, Indian and French restaurants are all common to most larger towns.

North Easterners pride themselves on serving what they argue is the best traditional English fish and chips. From the largest cities in the region to the smallest villages, the presence of a fish and chip shop and a pub are practically guaranteed.

Northerners are wonderfully friendly and can usually be counted on to look after those not familiar to the area. As in any large city, certain areas will not be as safe after dark . As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid travelling alone late at night.


Student Testimonials

Looking back after I’ve graduated, I think NOEP will stand among the top highlights of my college experience. As a geography major that had only just started studying history, I remember being concerned that I would have trouble doing well in a different and challenging environment. As it turned out, I had a great experience, both personally and academically. Classes were challenging and helped me get a better understanding of general writing skills and the history of the region. As someone who had been only casually interested in history before, I found the classes useful and engaging. It’s hard to overstate how amazing some of the locations are, particularly Hadrian’s Wall and Fountain’s Abbey. Enjoying these places brings an excitement and engagement that’s hard to find elsewhere. I was even able to travel to Edinburgh on an off weekend, it’s a great city to spend a few days off with plenty of interesting places and excitement. The food and accommodations throughout trip were excellent too, I had dozens of great meals and the housing ran from nice dorms to splendid hotels! Overall, NOEP was a great experience for me both personally and academically. I would definitely recommend it to interested students!

The North of England Programme was an incredible opportunity to closely experience and learn about the deep history and culture of Northern England. Over the course of the program, I came to appreciate the regional distinctiveness of many of the places we visited. I would gladly revisit each one. The atmosphere of each city felt welcoming to everyone. Hadrian’s Wall was undoubtedly my favorite part of the trip. We visited several sites along the wall, and each had a spectacular view of the countryside. While in England, I experienced various cities through the day trips and site visits that coincided with course lectures. The museums often emphasized what we discussed in class, and were pertinent to course material. This combination of lesson and trip created a learning experience that was immersive, rigorous and engaging. I am glad that I took this chance to go abroad as a student rather than a tourist because of the depth of cultural immersion I had. Overall, I enjoyed my time in Northern England and if I could go again I most certainly would.

I attended the required course for NOEP, as well as the course on the Ancient Mediterranean, and I would highly recommend it, especially if you enjoy learning about the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Persians. This has been the only study abroad trip I have been on and will likely be the only one I attend, but I would absolutely have to recommend it. If you have a passion for history there is no experience more awe inspiring than standing in a cathedral built almost a millennium ago, or to be able to roam the breathtaking ruins of once-great buildings and see how they have been beaten down by time. The history that you learn, especially from the site walks with those who show clear and passionate knowledge, will absolutely captivate you. You may not have as much free time as you like, and I would especially caution against spending most of that free time around your fellow students, but you will have more than enough to complete your work and have fun. Dr. Chappell may be a tough grader, but he is an approachable man who you should not hesitate to talk with if you have any questions or worries about the program, and definitely note his wonderful food recommendations. My only word of warning about Chappell is that he tends to like nicer restaurants, even though he does recommend some cheaper places, so definitely shop around if you’re looking to save up your allowance. The cities you visit will all be very walkable, and exploring them is a wonderful way to pass the free time that you’re given. If you have even the slightest interest in England’s lush history, I find it hard to believe that you will not love the experience.

The North of England Programme has given me the most exceptional summer of my young, adult life. Dr. Chappell’s itinerary ensured ample amounts of cultural, educational, and social experiences every week. It’s hard to choose a favorite site or city because I loved the distinct charms of each town and every site visited was more intriguing and profound than the last. Accommodations were good at worst and amazing at best (send our love to Mark and Darren!) Not only did my peers and I have fun and work hard, but the North of England Programme has had a significant impact on my academic career and has refined my academic goals, focus and future. The spiritual and awe-inspiring impact of the immaculate cathedrals we visited stand out to me especially and inspired me to seek a concentration in ecclesiastical history. An important motto for you aspiring Anglian travelers, trust Chappell and do the work. This is a serious study abroad, true, but we still had tonnes of fun and I found it much more forgiving in the end. Dr. Chappell is an agreeable fellow and judges not his students, only the quality of their work. He is always willing to discuss academic concerns and you’d be wise to seek his counsel should you need it. I will surely cherish the memories made with friends old and new for the rest of my life. Not only was northern England beautiful, fun and fascinating, as a history major, I felt inspired and excited to be studying in one of the most historically significant regions on Earth. This experience has something to offer for any lover of history classic to contemporary, literature, nature, art, architecture, spirituality, etc. etc. Ad infinitum. The North of England Programme has had a profound impact on my academic career, and I am blessed to have had this unforgettable experience with such fine companions.

The North of England Program was my first time ever travelling abroad, and I couldn’t have picked a better first experience. The cities you visit are loaded with fun things to do, tons of historical sites, and great food, contrary to popular belief. You visit a multitude of museums and historic sites as part of the itinerary, and they are almost all breathtaking in some way. My favorites were Fountains Abbey and Hadrian’s Wall, as they were both places in which I could stand and stare in awe for minutes on end without saying a thing. The free weekends allow for plenty of outside exploration, I highly recommend a trip to Edinburgh and hiking Arthur’s Seat. The classes are challenging, but I felt that my ability was truly tested, and I became a better student because of the rigor of the program. Dr. Chappell expects nothing but the best, but in the end it all comes together, and your writing and reading will be as good as you ever thought it could be. If you have the chance to take the leap, go ahead and do it, because you will make some great friends with some amazing people I know I did.

The North of England Program, run by Dr. Stephen Chappell, is an incredible experience both educationally and experience-wise. The classes offered were engaging, challenged and rewarding. Aside from the mandatory HIST 391, I was enrolled in the ENG 302 and it was amazing to learn about the lives of the authors covered and see how they related to the larger history of Northern England. The sites that we toured as a group were all beautiful in different respects. Some excursions like Hadrian’s Wall and Fountains Abbey had me so immersed I almost forgot I was there for class! We went to all kinds of places that would engage with everyone, like cathedrals, museums, ruins and restaurants. There was plenty of time to explore on your own as well, with free time and free weekends built into the itinerary. During one of my free weekends, I went in a smaller group to Edinburgh by train from York and it was fantastic. Any site or food place that Dr. Chappell recommends is a guaranteed good time, so don’t be afraid to get adventurous! Out of all the study abroad trips I’ve been lucky enough to do, this was by far the most impressive and was absolutely worth it. I wish I could go back and do it all over again!

As someone who had never traveled outside of the United States before, it was always a goal of mine to study abroad in college. When I got the opportunity to join NOEP for the summer of 2018, I knew I could not turn down such an amazing experience. Overall, the North of England Programme was an incredible and memorable trip with both personal and educational experiences. Going into this program, I knew little to nothing about the history of Northern England, so it was cool to learn about historical events and sites and later explore these sites in person. Some of my favorites included Hadrian’s Wall, Vindolanda, and Fountains Abbey. In addition to the cities in the North of England, I was also able to travel on each of the free weekends, both for entire weekend and day trips. I went from never leaving the country to exploring many different places in the UK as a result of this trip. NOEP was an amazing experience that challenged me both personally and academically, and has been the highlight of my college career thus far.

NOEP was my first time studying outside of the country, and everyone in the group I was in was also relatively foreign to me. Not only had i never taken a class with Dr. Chappell, but I had also exchanged very few words with most of the students in and out of a classroom setting. While this situation may intimidate most people (myself included), I am pleased to say that my experience from the trip was nothing short of extraordinary. The program takes you to stunning locations and gives enough freedom to explore the individual cities that you go to. From Durham to York, every city you go to presents a different feel, from big modern cities like Manchester to quaint historic cities like Chester. I especially enjoyed Hadrian's Wall, which gave a glimpse at Roman England as well as being a fun miniature hike with a breath taking view of the English country side. Dr. Chappell himself had high expectations for his classes, however he is more than willing to helping students in and out of the classroom, makes lectures enjoyable and fun, as well as just being a fantastic and charming man to have lunch with in your free time. As the trip progressed, you begin to do more outside of the classroom with the group and break that ignorance with one another. Soon you becomes comfortable with one another, getting dinner together, working on papers and exploring the English country side. In the end, the NOEP trip is what you make of it, and while you are on this grand adventure, you should seize every opportunity to explore and learn about the cities you are in, because they will make the trip all the better.

The North of England Programme was a great, month long adventure that I will remember for the rest of my life! For those scared of having too much work and too little time to do it, you don't have to be worried about that on the Programme. All of the three cities we stayed in were beautiful in their own way, but where we stay is always walkable to the city center and the heart of the respective city's cultures. The food is delicious and the hospitality is fantastic, everybody was happy that we went into their shop or their restaurant or their museum. There is a good balance of work, play, and exploration and there are opportunities to learn and admire the beauty about everywhere you look. Hadrian's Wall and Fountains Abbey were just two of the many jaw-dropping sites we saw along this journey. I would certainly revisit all of the destinations we went too during the Programme, so I highly recommend it to any and all who are up to the challenge!

The North of England Programme is easily one of the highlights of my time in college. It offers intellectually engaging courses that give context to the historic sites and regions that we visited. Being able to walk on walls that were originally constructed during Roman times gives a concept of age that we do not encounter in the US. We saw several pubs that were older than the United States. The courses came to life as we visited sites that we read about and were able to physically see what we had been studying, which was amazing. All three cities that we stayed in were varied and provided examples of both older historic cities (Chester and York) and large industrial cities (Manchester). The English countryside around Hadrian’s Wall and Fountain’s Abbey were serene and beautiful as were those sites themselves. The cultural immersion that we experienced while there was my favorite part of the program. We saw many grand and beautiful locations and buildings, but living for a month in English cities and getting to know some of the people and customs alone was well worth the trip. I highly recommend this program to anyone considering it.

The North of England Programme was an absolutely wonderful experience, full of fun and educational experiences. The cities we visited had its own unique charms and were absolutely lovely. The people we met were welcoming, the food was absolutely amazing, and even the classes were fun. While the classes are work, there is plenty of free time to go exploring on your own/with your group. As lectures are in the morning, there's plenty of time to go exploring the cities before regrouping to go visit the museum/site of the day. The program manages to combine the best parts of traveling (visiting cool museums/historical sites and eating) with the ideal college experience (having lively discussions and educational, but enjoyable, lectures). It made the content we were learning and discussing so much more relevant to our lives — it really allowed for us to immerse ourselves into the culture while understanding the historical context. There's something particularly amazing about listening to a lecture about the historic city walls while actually standing on the walls. You really get to bond with your group, and there's a ton of things to do during the free weekends, even if you don't leave the city. Furthermore, as an IDLS major, being able to petition for both of my classes to count as my upper-level courses was also a major bonus! Dr. Chappell offers some amazing classes that aren't just for History majors — his English course is supposed to be phenomenal, and his lectures, in general, are holistic: focusing not just on the famous military leaders or politicians of the North, but also on its many authors, artists, and architects.

The North of England Programme was an amazing trip. Each city we stayed in had its own unique feel, and while I do have my own personal favorite, I would gladly revisit each one. The food was amazing. The people were nice. The entire atmosphere of each city felt welcoming to everyone. My favorite part of the trip was undoubtedly Hadrian's Wall, which we took a day trip to see. The part of the wall we went up had a spectacular view of the countryside. While America has its own natural sites, Hadrian's Wall is like nothing I have ever seen. While in England, I was able to experience various cities through the day trips or site visits, that coincided with the lessons. The museums were all pertinent to what we were learning and would often emphasize what we discussed in class. This combination of lesson and trip really made the entire learning experience much more immersive and entertaining. I am glad that I took this chance for study abroad because going as a simple tourist would most likely have reduced the amount of cultural immersion I had. As a student I was able to learn why the people acted a certain way and this made the entire experience much better. There was time for personal weekend trips, but I stayed in the towns to get more time in the cities we were in. If I could go again I most certainly would.

The North of England trip was an amazing adventure that I will always remember. The three cities, Chester, York, and Manchester are lovely cities with historic charm, filled with great local cuisine, nice people, and beautiful sights. To cobble stone streets, old buildings, ornate cathedrals, and breathtaking country sides, every moment was filled with rich culture. The outings we did as a group were fabulous. Among my favorites were Hadrian’s Wall and Fountains Abbey. These sighs truly felt like you were in another world. To continue, The trip was a great balance of work and fun. The classes on the trip were challenging, however their was plenty of time to do the course load and explore the cities-and even go on weekend trips to neighboring countries! When first considering the trip the history based course content was a concern of mine being an English major. While I was the only English Major, I never felt overwhelmed by the History course or felt like I had a disadvantage. As for the English course, the blending of literature and history was a really cool experience. It gave the novels more life and meaning, as I was more aware on what drove the authors to write their novels. Also, going to the Elizabeth Gaskell House in Manchester and Brontë Parsonage in Haworth were incredible experiences I won’t be soon forgetting. For being able to go to places you are learning about is an amazing experience and allows for the knowledge to soak in more. All in all, NOEP was an experience of a lifetime that I highly recommend for anyone interested in exploring the North of England and its history!

The North of England Program was such a wonderful experience, and offered an in-depth, immersive experience of British culture. The courses were really interesting, especially since we were able to see most of the sites associated with what we were learning about. Along with site walks, lectures, and tours, there is plenty of time to explore at your own pace and see all the north has to offer. While there is studying to be done, the program is more concerned with experiences and cultural immersion. Some of the greatest take-aways were sitting in unique pubs with colorful names, talking to locals or with the group, exploring the ruins of Fountains Abbey, and free weekend trips to Liverpool and Edinburgh. You’ll get to see many amazing things that few people do.  I certainly had an incredible journey that I will remember. I’d highly recommend to any history major, anyone interested in British culture, or people who love to explore.

The North of England Program was a wonderful experience. The program is filled with many tours of interesting sites, historical buildings, and museums. Along with these tours, there are of course classes involved in the trip, as it is a study abroad trip, but a large focus of these classes and the program as a whole is on experiences. Whether it was climbing Hadrian’s Wall, going to a pub called the One Eyed Rat with the group, travelling to Dublin and Edinburgh on the weekends, or attending Evensong at York Minster, I certainly had a lot of experiences that I will never forget. You don’t need to be history major to have a great time and learn a lot from NOEP. I am an Idls, Middle School Education Major and I had a great time. The trip is what you make of it, and I highly recommend anyone who is interested in history, England, or just experiencing life abroad to sign up for this program.

The North of England Programme was an enjoyable and educational experience. I really liked how the places we visited were rich in culture and history. There is plenty of time to explore and discover a little history on your own from the people in the area. All of the museums selected for the trip are engaging and unique. My favorite was the Chester Military Museum, but there were plenty of other kinds such as the Silk Museum and multiple art galleries. The detailed lectures for the classes are well supported by the museums, and there are some lectures that happen during walks of the city walls. Also included in the trip are Fountains Abbey and Hadrian’s Wall, which really show the beauty that rural England has to offer. There are also multiple churches and cathedrals to visit, as well as pubs and shops. As for living accommodations and cuisine, look forward to excellence at the Alcuin Lodge in York and bakeries in every city and town. There is also plenty of opportunity for the occasional pint. Overall, I had a wonderful experience exploring England and learning about a country rich in history. It was clear that Dr. Chappell put time and effort into planning a well-rounded, educational, and extraordinary trip for 2016, and I am sure he will put forth the same effort in the coming years.

For anyone with reservations about this trip, I would seriously recommend that you sign up, especially if you've never traveled abroad before. You'll meet some lovely people, see some amazing places, and eat some delicious food. I'll stress that the idea that British food isn't good is just utterly false, especially if you like bacon. Moving on though, the free weekends also provide great opportunities to travel to major cities around the UK such as Dublin, Edinburgh, and London (I even sacrificed the better part of a day in London to go and tour the Warner Brother'sStudios Harry Potter back lot, which was fantastic). Anyway, sign up for the program! You will not regret it.

Being a part of the North of England program this past summer was such an amazing experience. You get to learn about the history in the places that it took place, and go to museums and sites where artifacts showcasing it are held. Another amazing part about this trip is the fact that the people you go with become some what of tight knit family. I am still friends with all of the people that I went with on this trip, and we even get brunch and dinner together at least once a month. But perhaps one of the greatest parts of this trip is that you get to know Dr. Chappell on a more personal level than if you took him for a class in Harrisonburg. Now don’t think that this trip is all learning and writing papers we still managed to have a lot of fun. Whether it be in our free time in the cities we stayed in, or our weekend adventures in Dublin, Edinburgh, or London, either way it was a blast and I wish I was able to go on this trip again.

Dr. Chappell's North of England Program is a great experience. In my time in England, amazing experiences were had exploring centuries-old sites, becoming educated (first hand) in local cultures, and absorbing the nation's long and rich history. In your time in England, you will dine on such delicacies as cheese, sausage rolls, and proper English bacon. This is especially true in the beautiful northern city of York her streets have no want of bakeries. Bakeries where, I might add, you can easily buy a very filling lunch for less than four pounds ($6)! From the North of England Program I gained a newfound appreciation for my own country as well as for Britain, and I cannot wait to visit again some day. Go! Apply! Eat cheese! And remember: God save the Queen!

I truly enjoyed my visit, it was all really cool. Between the people, the food, the culture, and the sights I could not have asked for a better time. The classes were straightforward and often tied to our sightseeing this brought our learning into reality. Our group was pretty small (8) and we quickly all became friends, during our one month there I got to know all of them pretty well and we still keep in touch. If you are on the fence about going, do yourself a favor and go for it. You will not regret it.

What a blast! Being a part of JMU’s 2015 North of England Program was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. In the four weeks that encompass the program you learn a lot, see a lot, and experience a lot. The month long crash course to English history and culture was intense and tiring at times, but in the end it was worth it. The program may seem a bit pricy on paper, but the opportunities you encounter on the program don’t happen every day. The insider exclusives you get make it worth every penny. Accommodations throughout the trip are nice and of good quality. The amount of museums, cathedrals, churches, and heritage sites are aplenty. You don’t even need to be a history buff to appreciate everything the cities and the country has to offer, but it does help!

Some of my particular favorites of the 2015 trip were the historical sites that we visited. Fountains Abbey was, and still is, the most amazing place I have ever been to. The large monastic ruin will literally render you speechless. If I ever return to England it is definitely on the list of places to revisit. Another impressive site was Hadrian’s Wall. To be honest, the wall itself is a little disappointing after seeing Fountains Abbey, but the surrounding landscape really puts everything into perspective. The rolling English countryside was a true beauty to behold. In both instances you’re not just seeing history, you’re experiencing it. Anyone can read about all the places you visit on the trip, but to actually walk those same corridors, streets, and stone walls is another matter entirely.

Another perk to the program is having free weekends. I travelled to Dublin, Edinburgh, and London, as did most of the other group members. Having that free time really allowed me to

branch out of my comfort zone and maximize my time in the UK. As a word of advice, you can systematically plan your weekends, but stuff will happen and your hard work will collapse right in front of you. For example, I had the misfortune of losing my phone while in Dublin. I got it back eventually, but it’s just one instance of where my thorough planning went to waste. Coordinating your weekend plans with fellow group members is advisable. After all, the buddy system is good to practice while abroad.

My time in England has definitely helped me grow as a student and a person. The experience alone has proved to be tremendously insightful. In the process of learning about England I learned a lot about myself. Having never left the US before, JMU’s NOEP has given me the travel bug and I hope to continue traversing the globe. The program was a truly a one of a kind experience. Being led around Northern England by a true Yorkshireman made it all the more authentic and worthwhile. If I could do the program again, I would sign up in a heartbeat! Lastly, contrary to the stereotype, it doesn't rain every day in England!

The North of England Program provided me with a street level experience and the beginning of a more complete view of the North of England than I could have ever hoped for had I attempted to make this trip on my own. During the day the lectures and the walks allowed me to better understand the unique story of each city's past and to recognize each city's role in the history of the North of England. At night the small and intimate nature of the cities allowed me to better understand each city’s present and to recognize the North of England’s role in the modern world.

My experiences with the 2014 Summer Abroad program in the North of England allowed me to explore myself and history as never before. As it was my first time out of the country, it felt exhilarating to adventure directly into ancient history (from playing hide and go seek in Roman ruins dating from first century AD to walking along Hadrian's wall) while being able to literally walk through medieval history several times over (magnificent cathedrals, city walls, cobblestoned ground) to then rejoin contemporary life for a delightful dinner and late night wanderings in the refreshing Northern English air. Even the museums in England far outbested any I have been to in America- for example, the Viking museum in York had an exhibit that took us through a recreated Viking village in a moving cart on a track that resembled a slow moving indoor rollercoaster ride, complete with realistic animatrons and sound effects. Dr. Chappell has the unique experience of an NOEP instructor in that he actually comes from York itself- therefore, he had some truly wonderful connections and knowledge only a local could have, which led to meeting some interesting people with even more interesting stories (think of an elderly Mother Superior who played with the Queen as a small child and a very funny story involving the Chippendales, and you might get a small picture of what I mean.) That said, I can honestly say my experience with the North of England provided me with a greater sense of personal independence, strengthened my longing for historical understanding, and further encouraged my interest in museum studies and traveling.

This trip was an incredible experience. It was the first time I ever travelled abroad, but it was a spectacular and enlightening journey to another country. Being able to be in and near buildings that are centuries old is something that simply cannot be beat. The knowledge you can gain from these classes surpasses that which you learn in class (which alone is a lot of information), from the range of people and time periods that you are able to experience in a short 4 week stint.

Have fun, meet new people, absorb as much as you can, and remember to do your homework (Especially the 400 level class – don’t let the research paper sneak up on you).

The North of England Programme was a wonderful experience to cap off my undergraduate career. The opportunity to see and live in the cities of Chester, York, and Durham allowed me to experience a culture and history that I had had little interaction with and enjoyed immensely. I recommend this program to anyone who is interested in history and/or English culture.

Deciding to participate in the North of England Study Abroad Program was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Studying abroad really pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me to grow as a person. This program is particularly amazing because Dr. Chappell is incredibly knowledgeable about the area and its history, but also grew up in the area and knows the ins and outs of the culture and the people. You can't beat an experience like that!


Watch the video: British Monarchs Family Tree. Alfred the Great to Queen Elizabeth II