Chesters Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall

Last week we travelled down to the north-east of England again, just for a few nights, and it’s just typical that when we had only been down there half a day or so the weather changed from what had been days and days of hot dry weather – to heavy rain – such is life, and I suppose the gardens needed it!

Before the heavens opened we did manage to fit in a visit to Chesters Roman Fort. I was surprised at how busy it was but the English school holidays had just begun and I think the English Heritage site had just been allowed to open up again after the Covid lockdown.

The fort was only discovered in the 1840s by John Clayton the landowner, who had a lot of his men uncovering the Roman remains, the work was continued by his nephew who inherited the estate, although the Claytons were very wealthy and had a lot of men digging up the area there are still lots of parts to be excavated, presumably when English Heritage can afford to do it. Below is a photo of the fort HQ.

HQ Building, Chester's fort, Roman remains, Cumbria

The photo below is the base of what was an interval tower.

Interval Tower , Chester's Roman Fort, Cumbria

The whole fort was obviously part of Hadrian’s Wall but there are only a few bits of the actual wall uncovered at the moment, presumably a dig would find more of it although I expect that a lot of the stones have been re-used over the years by farmers needing houses and farm walls.

Part of  Hadrian's wall, Chesters Roman Fort, Cumbria

Below is a photo of the remains of some of the stables.

Stables , Chester's Roman Fort, Cumbria

As there were lots of horses and men housed at this fort a good source of water was obviously imperative, the North River Tyne is right on the edge of the camp and if you look across the river in the middle of the photo you’ll see some of the remains of the bridge abutment.

Bridge Abutment , North Tyne River, Cumbria

Chester's fort Bridge Info board stitch

It’s an interesting place to visit if you find yourself in that area, there seem to be Roman remains all over. This fort is in a particularly scenic location but I can’t help feeling sorry for the 500 or so Spanish cavalry soldiers who inhabited this camp, they must have been frozen to the bone in winter – or maybe even in summer!

Penrith, Cumbria, England

Last month we made a quick visit to Penrith in Cumbria, the North of England. We were on our way to Oswestry. Despite the fact that we’ve spent years going up and down between Scotland and England for some reason we had never got around to stopping off at this popular market town which is situated close to the Lake District. Actually we ticked two destinations off that day because we also visited Tebay services, a place that I had heard people raving about as the best motorway services in the UK – and they could be right. I was tempted by quite a few things but ended up just buying some lovely things to eat.

Old Style  shop

I’m so glad that the owners of this shop haven’t felt the need to modernise. Drapers, Costumiers and Milliners. Perfect.

Old Style  shop front

Anyway – Penrith is an old-fashioned place, we only gave ourselves an hour to see the sights which wasn’t really long enough, especially as we found a good secondhand bookshop there. We only found the bookshop because we were looking at the old church which is close to the centre of the town. You can see lots of images of St Andrew’s Church here.

Giant's Tombstone

But I was interested in the ‘Giants Grave‘ in the churchyard. It’s supposedly the grave of Owen Caesarius, king of Cumbria between 900 and 937 AD. The hogback stones seem to have been used over large parts of Britain, it’s thought they are Viking grave markers. I’m sure there are some in Fife.

Giant's Grave Stones

Giant's Tombstone

Penrith also has Roman remains nearby, but we didn’t have time to stop off to visit them – another time we will I hope.

On the way out of the churchyard I was amazed to see this old gravestone which is situated very close to the entrance. Mary Noble apparently reached the ripe old age of 107 and died way back in 1828 (I think). It’s amazing to think she was born in 1721, she must have seen quite a few changes over the years.

Aged 107