The many museums from Newcastle to Maryport on the west coast are filled with excellent artefacts and exhibits, and give a glimpse into the lives of the people who lived along Hadrian’s Wall.
Great Northern Museum Hancock in Newcastle has an interactive model of the full length of Hadrian’s Wall, a reconstruction of Carrawburgh Mithras Temple, as well as many artefacts from the eastern forts of Arbeia and Segedunum.
Vindolanda Fort’s museum is filled with rare leather and wood finds, preserved by the anaerobic soil of several wood and stone forts built there over the years. These include the extraordinary wooden tablets with the words of the people who lived and worked at the fort. There is also a wonderful display of shoes and tools.
The Roman Army Museum (associated with Vindolanda Fort) has a very good film of the history with computer generated reconstructions and aerial footage of the wall. I’ve always been astounded by the delicate blue Roman glassware that has survived for almost 2000 years and one of my favourite souvenirs is a replica beaker with horses and riders I bought at RAM. This was made by Roman Glassmakers (www.romanglassmakers.co.uk).
At Corbridge (Corstupitum) there was an early fort that predated the wall. Here there are also remains of the civilian settlement that surrounded the fort. Inside the site’s small museum are many interesting artefacts, including the Corbridge Lion and a replica of the beautiful silver Corbridge Lanx (the original is in the British Museum).
We chose a rainy day to visit the Tullie House Museum in Carlisle with its collections of artefacts from Roman Carlisle (Luguvailum Carvettiorum) and Hadrian’s Wall. We then travelled south along the Solway F irth to the Senhouse Museum in Maryport with its extensive collection of altars and inscriptions.