Vindolanda, shoes and loos…

We were really sad to leave Horncliffe this morning. Trevor and Fiona are a lovely couple and run one of the best b&b’s we’ve ever stayed in. Anyone that offers you a menu for breakfast which includes porridge with cream, honey and a small slug of whisky gets my stamp of approval.

Though we were heading back to my Mums, we made a detour towards Hadrians Wall. Driving in the general direction of Bardon Mill and Housesteads, our detour naturally became ‘getting lost’. As luck would have it, we found a roadsign to ‘Vindolanda’.  This is one of the most outstanding excavated Roman sites on Hadrians Wall, if not in the north of England. It’s popularity was reinforced by the overflowing car park, in which we were lucky to shoehorn the car.

The reception staff were brilliant, chatty and enthusiastic. We grabbed a quick drink in the small cafe, while waiting for a guided tour. Our guide was knowledgeable and eager to answer questions, even ones from an obnoxious person who decided to try and prove he knew more than the expert.

We were shown how complex and expansive the site was. (There are still digs ongoing) Latrines for up to 25 people where strangely, leather shoes had been recovered. It was supposed that if you were using the latrine and your shoe slipped off, the last thing you’d want to do is search for it. However, over 6,000 leather shoes have been unearthed from the site (not all from the latrines), some of them in a remarkable state of preservation.

It’s a unique site, with a well laid out museum displaying the recovered artefacts and warm and welcoming staff. The only part the spoilt our visit was the weather, which had turned wet and blustery when we walked back through the site to our car. If you’re in the area it’s a must see.

It wasn’t too long before we arrived at my Mums and we quickly popped out for fish and chips. Tomorrow we’ve planned a visit to Beamish Open Air Museum. That’s over 1,000 years of history in two days….



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