Friday, 19 August 2011

Hadriana's Progress Report

salvete! Hello and Welcome! (That's Minimus the Latin Mouse above....)

What have I been up to lately? Well my parents went away and I've been looking after my 95 year old grandfather who is still hale and hearty. That also involves house sitting and looking after our two children.

My grandfather still does his crosswords, watches lots of sport and quizzes and just generally does his own thing...which is "grand". I've enjoyed looking after him for the last two weeks and it's been super to still have a lot of contact with him. I love hearing all his stories.

I've also been doing a fair amount of guiding at two Roman forts: Vindolanda and Housesteads. Housesteads has been a new one for me. It's just down the road from Vindolanda but is a later fort perched very high on top of the Whin Sill/crags. It is the most well known of all the forts around here and attracts a fair amount of visitors (as does Vindolanda).

Vindolanda has had a £6m odd makeover there and at its sister site, The Roman Army Museum. Housesteads' Museum and visitor centre will get a million pound plus renovation this Winter. The fort will remain open and it will be free to see and visit. I've enjoyed guiding at both sites...what I've learned at one I can apply to the other and vice versa.

I'm still in the process of setting up a second business called "Hands-on-Latin" which will combine guiding around the Roman sites with teaching Latin..showing that it is the basis for European Languages (most of them) and the English Language! I'm still pulling the paperwork and the website together...hoping that I can get it up and running for the Autumn. Fingers crossed. All the signs are...that it will work! I've had quite a bit of interest in it and all my market research has shown that there is an appetite for it.

Northumberland National Park Authority through their Leader programme sponsored me to go on a research trip around the country in March culminating in a teacher training day for Minimus in Salisbury. I met the author of Minimus - Barbara Bell - again and she is wonderful. So inspirational!

I featured in a "Dragons' Den" in a local business challenge and got an article in the local paper about my idea...which was fantastic and got me some great publicity. I was able to network through the challenge/business entrepreneur forum and it turned out that the lady who set up the whole thing originally was a friend of the family! I met her (Lorna Moran) and have a bunch of contacts to follow-up too... (I also got some vital one-to-one feedback from one of the Dragons..following the Den.)

In June I went to a teacher training day in Cambridge - as part of the Cambridge Latin Course - which I also hope to use as well as the Minimus Latin Course (which is based at Vindolanda using a real Roman family and the famous Writing Tablets). I was a bit daunted attending that day as I thought lots of Latin teachers together would be a bit stuffy...but the reality was completely different! What a superb bunch of people. I got so involved in conversations that I had to run like mad to catch up at the Fitzwilliam Museum session and later on...nearly lost my handbag!?!

What else have I been doing? Attending a dig at Vindolanda for a week (beginning of the season - which was wonderful because I learned a lot), teaching Minimus Latin to three local primary schools in lunchtime clubs, teaching Minimus Latin to some adults too, attending "Know Your Hadrian's Wall" lectures and visits, one photography session at Housesteads, one Roman Potter's course at The Bowes Museum, visited the excavations over at Maryport (which look fascinating too), attended a few conferences and lectures on Roman stuff, doing private tours of Vindolanda and the Wall, applied for grants, worked with a business advisor, blogged and tweeted as me and as Minimus the Latin Mouse. I also met the very marvellous Lindsay Allason-Jones for lunch and she is encouraging me to do epigraphical courses along the Wall (the teaching of how to read 'Roman Inscriptions').

Ooh..and I almost forgot...helped with the B&B when I could (run by the indefatigable, Mr.H. - Nigel) and prepared the B&B books too...

Still to come....the local primary school headmistress is putting Minimus Latin on the curriculum in the three schools and all age I come! Attending The Joint Association of Classical Teachers Training Day in London on 24th September. I've also been asked to join The Primary Latin Project Committee which promotes/aids the teaching and setting up of Latin in primary schools (in all teaching/learning sectors)...that is meeting in the Autumn too.

So huge apologies for not blogging as much as I should do and not visiting your blog...but...maybe I'll get over to day! :)

valete! Bye for now! Hadriana/Catherine xx xx

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Stone at Great Chesters Fort

I like Great Chesters fort a huge amount. Why? It is largely untouched and on a working farm above Haltwhistle. I always try and look at lots of different stones when I am walking around and about.

This fort is on the line of Hadrian's Wall. I'll write more about it another time.

Most people will not see this stone as it is in the outer side of the fort and you have to circumnavigate the fort to see it. You also have to be really careful as there is a lot of livestock around - as always take particular care when on a farm and treat the whole area with respect and caution.

I did not know what this stone was. I sent a photo of it to Lindsay Allason-Jones - Roman expert  (Reader in Roman Material Culture) and who is still involved at Newcastle University Archaeology Department (she's just retired from there - from her full time post at least!) and is the President of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle (amongst many, many other things). She says that it might be a lintel.

I enjoy all aspects of Hadrian's Wall plus the history before, after, during the life of the Wall...but sometimes chance discoveries and things which catch me off balance and, therefore, make me reassess my current level of knowledge have a special meaning for me...

What do you reckon this stone could be? I'd be interested to hear your suggestions....

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

A Visit to Corbridge - 'Corstopitum or Coria'

A Corbridge 'pant' = water trough/water supply fountain and there are many of these throughout the town
I'm letting the photos tell the story. 

(The history of Corbridge can be found here and here
Roman history junkies can find out more here and at the Roman-Britain site
Just click on the Dere Street link in the next paragraph.)

A wonderful Roman fort and garrison town can be found just outside of Corbridge. 

I first heard of Corbridge at school when my French and English teachers lived here. Interestingly my French teacher was called Mrs. Thirlwell and we now live within a stone's throw of Thirlwall Castle.

Corstopitum or Coria? Which one was the true Roman name for Corbridge? We don't know for sure as Corstopitum was used but due to the discovery of the Vindolanda Writing Tablets it was found that Coria was the name that the Romans gave to this place (at least in the tablets).

Corstopitum = 'The Valley of the Resounding Noise' ?

"The names Coria from Ptolemy and Corie from the RC, may be derived from the same Celtic roots as the Gaelic word Coire 'a round hollow in a mountainside', and the Welsh word Cwm 'valley, dale'; both words adequately describe the location of the Corbridge station. The Antonine name Corstopitum, is possibly a Romanisation of the original Celtic name suffixed by the Latin word strepitum 'loud noise, resounding', the Roman-British name therefore meaning something along the lines of 'The Valley of the Resounding Noise', a name which undoubtedly reflects its use as a busy legionary garrison post close to the troublesome Scottish border region." (quoted from the website:
The small child in me always thinks of the "Carry On!" films..."Cor! Stop it! 'Um !" every time I see/read the word - 'Corstopitum'. Coria, as a name, is far more sensible - don't you think?

Corbridge is a very attractive town - a lot of the stone in the houses is Roman. Today (as there must also have been in Roman times) there are pubs, restaurants, cafes and quirky shops plus plenty of history. I think I still need more time to wander round the town and take some more photos.... the local tourist information centre can recommend a variety of local walks. A very good spot to watch the world go by is The Angel Inn of Corbridge which has been a coaching inn since 1726. More interesting links and info can be found at Wikipedia - here. Hard copies of local information and history are best obtained from the tourist info centre which also doubles as a library.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

A short intermission...

...folks!.........It's holiday time (ish) and I've realised that I need a Break from Blogging with a Capital "B".

I've wanted to blog lately (short of) but then not been inspired to write anything down when push came to shove. So I'm going to leave things for a while and see what happens.

Could be...that I've got a bit of "Writer's Blog Block" ???...

I'm still Twittering over at @hadrianasblog....maybe see a few of you over there? I do hope so.

In the meantime - have a great Summer and hopefully I can catch up with you all soon.

Hugs from Hadriana xx xx

PS: If I do feel inspired to write...then I'll be back! Toodlepip. :-)