Reflections on the course so far

So here we are, half way through the course now; we hope you are enjoying it all.

This is a good opportunity to reflect on what we have covered, and to prepare ourselves for the next three weeks when we will explore the fascinating rituals and religions of the Wall community, as well as the remarkable tale of the frontier in the Late Roman period and the absorbing story of its end and subsequent exploration.

By this stage, we hope that you have a good sense of the layout of the frontier and understand its geographical context, but more than that, we hope we have gone some way to bringing it to life.

We hope you have some sense of the diverse soldiers and civilians who lived along Hadrian’s Wall. The whole place emerges as intensely vibrant and cosmopolitan, but also shot through with a whole range of cultural assumptions that can seem very alien. We have seen how the difference between being a citizen or a non-citizen could manifest itself in the army, and how brutal the reality of life as a slave, regarded as a mere piece of property, could be.

All these people lived their lives in the shadow of the most intensely fortified frontier of the Roman Empire. And in week 1, we explored how the frontier wall was built in Britain and what the evidence suggests about the original intention behind its construction. We hope that you feel that you have a clear sense of the essential elements of the Wall system now.

As part of this process, we have also sought to introduce you to the ways which we know what we believe we know about the Wall and its people. We have read and interpreted key texts and images together, and we have started to discuss the archaeological skills and methods used to advance research. Over the next three weeks we will build on the knowledge you have acquired, introduce you to new archaeology techniques and read, hopefully with ever greater confidence, more fascinating written sources.

  • What aspects of the course have surprised you so far?
  • Consider the responses of other participants - are you finding different things surprising?

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Hadrian's Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier

Newcastle University

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