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If you want to find out what has been happening on Hadrian’s Wall, go on the Pilgrimage. Every ten years since 1849 (give or take a couple of World Wars interrupting) there has been a special Pilgrimage of Hadrian’s Wall. August 2009 was the 13th pilgrimage; I went along for the fourth time, and kept a diary of what went on day-to-day.
The advantage of the pilgrimage is that one gets behind the scenes: we hear about what the Romans did on Hadrian’s Wall, about the problems caused by modern management and how, sometimes, the two are intertwined. We walked the Wall backwards, starting in the west. We examined the defences along the Cumbrian coast and asked whether Hadrian was, at times, ‘magnificently wrong’. We moved to Birdoswald, where it rained all day. Following that, we looked at the forts behind the Wall: Corbridge and Vindolanda. Then on to Housesteads and Chesters, and finally the eastern end of the Wall at South Shields and Wallsend – sadly noting the decline of the great shipyards that once dominated that end of the Wall. We close with an article by John Poulter, who wonders whether the Wall was laid out not against the enemies to the north, but to signal to the relieving forces in the rear.
Corbridge and Vindolanda. Then on to Housesteads and Chesters, and
In all this, I have been helped by Matthew Symonds who has just spent three years probing the secrets of the Wall while writing his doctoral thesis on the milecastles and co-editing the new Research Framework for Hadrian’s Wall.
The pilgrimage was followed by the Limes Congress, an international gathering of all those concerned with the Roman frontier throughout the Roman Empire. The Congress visited a number of forts in the hinterland, which we will cover in a summer issue of Current Archaeology. Read on!
With this issue we reach the end of the 20th volume of Current Archaeology, something I never thought to see when I launched the magazine back in 1967.My heartfelt thanks to all who have helped us over the past 43 years; to the archaeologists,who supplied us with articles and photos,and who have been such wonderful friends; to the younger generation who are carrying the magazine forward;and last,but not least,to you the readers,whose enthusiasm and support has constantly buoyed me up.It’s been a wonderful life:I look forward to the next 20 volumes!
Andrew Selkirk, Editor in Chief Dr Matthew Symonds, Issue Editor
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