UK Road Trip: Ancient Sites

Our UK Route Ancient SitesOn the road between the Lake District in England and the Scottish border, we stopped at the sites of two ancient ruins.

All throughout the UK, of course, it is fairly commonplace to see structures dating back hundreds of years.

But the two sites we visited on the road to Scotland are several thousand years old.

They were both very impressive.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

As we left Keswick, in the midst of a steady drizzle, we stopped to see the Castlerigg Stone Circle, a Neolithic monument on a hill just above the town.

Castlerigg Stone Circle - Keswick
Castlerigg Stone Circle — on a sunnier day

It was only a brief detour, and we were glad we made the stop.

Castlerigg is quite an amazing installation.  It is similar to Stonehenge, and about the same age, but on a smaller scale.

We have seen other monuments from that mysterious ancient era during our travels in Ireland.  They date back 3,000 years or more.

Little is known about the people who built these sites, but they obviously were skilled and visionary, with an elaborate social structure and religious beliefs.

Strange, eh?

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Paying Our Respects to a Gay Emperor

As we approached the border between England and Scotland, we took a long diversion through the countryside to visit Hadrian’s Wall.

Antinous - Lover of Emperor Hadrian
Hadrian’s notoriously handsome young lover, Antinous, immortalized as a “god” by Hadrian after he drowned in the Nile River at age 18

Built in the Second Century A.D., during the reign of Roman Emperor Hadrian, the wall stretched from coast to coast across Britain.  It protected Roman-controlled England from the wild tribes of Scotland, who could not be conquered.

Hadrian’s Wall marked the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire, at the very zenith of Rome’s imperial reach.  We did not want to pass from England into Scotland without stopping to see it.

Following signs from the main highway, eventually we found a remote place called Birdoswald.  There you can visit the ruins of a Roman fort, one of a series of such forts strategically located along Hadrian’s Wall.

It was pouring rain that afternoon, and consequently there was almost nobody else there.

Birdoswald Roman Fort - Aerial View
Birdoswald Fort – Aerial View

How strange it is to see substantial Roman ruins, so far north, scattered among sheep and cattle meadows in the remote English countryside!

*  *  *  *  *

Having visited these two impressive ruins from ancient times — the Neolithic and the Roman — we now were ready at last to cross the border into Scotland.

Our next destination:  Edinburgh.

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