Saturday, 24 April 2010
Who'd 'a thought it?!
With the exception of my mum looking sultry and a certain visitor from Northern Italy looking a little bit glazed (bottom right hand corner) all the other photos are of me when I was a few years younger (just a tad)!
Who'd a thought that I'd end up guiding at Vindolanda?...a life spent going from Jarrow (where I was born)to South Shields, Ivrea (Northern Italy), Newcastle, Hampstead, Cordoba, Lisbon, Zaragoza, Newcastle, Nottingham, Kew, Richmond, The City, Canary Wharf, Hurghada (Egypt), Haltwhistle, Greenhead and then Vindolanda....obviously with a few more deviations via London and Newcastle thrown in...most notably Venezuela and Costa Rica.
I'm not really showing off because I don't think that my life is particularly extraordinary. As the volcano ash debacle has shown - we all seem to live far flung lives these days.
Anyway. I digress. Somewhat.
Yes...I DID IT!!!
After all the trials and tribulations of my "annus horribilis" last year...I finally did it.
I guided twice at Vindolanda and had three postings at the newly revamped The Roman Army Museum. (If you get a chance to go and look at the new gallery...it is well worth it. At the Roman Army I talk about artefacts - religious and household. Some are real and some are copies. The visitors come and talk to me after they've seen the Eagle Eye film. We have some great conversations.)
I was very nervous to say the least.
My first group numbered approx. 30 - a mixture of families - all ages and different nationalities. I was lucky with the weather both times. The only thing I forgot to mention on the first outing was the Roman "pub" or "thermopolium" but I did tell 'em about the water wells/Barcombe Hill, the stanegate (important stone supply road), the 4th century bath house, the Roman village with its high street and butcher's shop, where Hadrian's Wall was/is, where the Vindolanda Tablets were found, the reconstructions of Hadrian's Wall, the HQ of the stone fort, the posh house of the C.O. and the reconstructions of the Roman temple, shop, house, lapidarium (replica altar area) and crofters' bothy. Then the museum...and got them there so they could enjoy the sun and a well earned cuppa. All in 45 minutes.
The second group numbered six but it was no less an experience. It was fascinating (from my side) to have to vary my delivery in relation to the size of the grouping. Obviously the second outing was more personal. We had one Dutch guy with us and two from Wales so I tailored my information a little to highlight how many different nationalities were billeted along the Wall. The Dutch Batavians built the first bigger bath house at Vindolanda and the second legion from South Wales helped build the Wall. There was a welsh chieftain, Brigomaglos, who had a Christian burial at Vindolanda. His real tombstone is over at Chesters museum. (In fact a great swathe of native tribes probably spoke a form of Welsh when the Romans arrived. For instance Carlisle comes from "Caer" Celtic for castle or fort and was recorded as having the pre - Roman name: "The wall of the god Lugus" - "Luguvalos" which the Romans simply made it into "Luguvallum".)
So I'm chuffed to bits. I did it without losing my memory, falling over or generally making a twit of myself. My younger self would have been proud and amazed. Just like me, myself, I at 43 years. Euge! Hurrah!