Hadrianic Society Weekend 2014


On Friday 4th April, in the benevolent shadow of Durham Cathedral. the pilgrims of the Hadrianic Society gathered for the reunion weekend and Roman Army School four and a half days of Forts. Frontiers, Romans and copious amounts of tea served with a distinctly late Roman flavour this year.

We are indebted to the new editor of the news letter Susan Porter for the following account of the weeked which appeared in the societies newsletter

The reunion weekend officially began with the AGM on Friday evening, the minutes of which will hopefully be published in a later newsletter. The outgoing chairman Gill Law was unable to attend due to her mother's illness. Richard Bridgland was elected chairman and Susan Porter takes over as editor of the newsletter.

On to Saturday's Wall Trip, and for those who recall last year's frightful weather, the minor drizzle encountered this year was barely noticeable as we made our way around the far eastern end of The Wall. Starting with the reconstruction and fort at Wallsend. The reconstruction was impressive and many braved the damp steps to ascend the parapet. Others however were disappointed by the presence of a tarpaulin, obscuring what remained of The Wall itself. the best view of the fort could be obtained from the viewing platform high above the visitors centre, where a panoramic seating gallery looked out over the skyline and gave a birds-eye view of the fort below.

From Wallsend we continued into Newcastle, visiting the tomb of the pioneer himself, Collingwood-Bruce in the Cathedral, before taking in various aspects of The Wall cunningly masquerading as street furniture within Newcastle itself. One house in particular was worth noticing as the outline of the Wall (to a perceived height and style) was rendered within the brickwork of the building.

The evening lecture was given by Sophie Vanhoutte. This covered the Continental side of the late coastal forts, with focus on the Dutch and Belgian coast. It seems that the opposing coastline has aspects that mirror the Saxon shore of Britain, however it seems less and less likely that this was a fort "system". More likely is that this coastal "system" developed in an organic manner rather then being rigidly thought out and designed as an almost frontier system. Something to think about.

On Sunday the 6th, recruits for the Roman Army School joined those remaining from the weekend. Sunday consisted of five lectures very much rooted in the fourth and fifth centuries with a foray into the mysterious land that is Post- Roman Britain. We began, somewhat fittingly, with a lecture from our new chairman Richard Bridgland, on those enigmatic southern installations known as the Saxon Shore Forts. This lecture formed a neat riposte to the lecture on the European side of the Saxon shore given by Sophie Vanhoutte at the close of the reunion weekend. It seems that these understudied constructions have much left to teach us if only we would bother to look. The harder one looks, the more differing date ranges become apparent and the less these installations seem like the "system" they are often taken to be.


Hadrianic Society Weekend 2012.

The Hadrianic Society Weekend 2012,  Friday 30th March to Sunday 1st April,  took place at Collingwood College, Durham instead of St. Aidans College because of accommodation changes during the holidays, 

The Society's Reunion Weekend is aimed mainly at Society members but is open to all-comers, including to the Annual General Meeting, although non-members would not be permitted to vote at the AGM.

The weekend started on Friday 30th March -with tea/coffee and biscuits  from 5.00pm onwards and the first event proper was dinner at 7.00pm in the dining hall. Following dinner the AGM was held  at which Gill Law was elected chairman and Helen Gawthrop elected treasurer. A vote of thanks was given to Ray Hunneysett, the retiring chairman and also to Pat Burgess, the retiring treasurer after which attendees adjourned to the College bar or retired for the night. 

On Saturday there was a full day excursion by coach to Carvoran and Birdoswald.  A stop was made for morning coffee and a packed lunch was provided by the College.

There was a special 40th Anniversary Dinner in the Penthouse Suite at 7pm. At dinner  we were joined by those attending the Roman Army School course, which overlaps the Reunion Weekend.

After dinner the combined group then attended the first lecture given by Tony Wilmott on "Roman Maryport".

On the Sunday morning the first lecture commenced at 9-15 when  Nick Hodgson spoke on "The internal planning of auxiliary forts".

After the break Val Maxfield spoke on "The Nile: A Roman Limes?". 

Lunch commenced at 12-30.

The Reunion ended after Sunday lunch - packed lunches were available as an alternative for those who  needed to leave early.


Hadrianic Society  Weekend 2011.

The Hadrianic Society Weekend 2011 took place at St. Aidan's College, Durham from Friday 15th April to Sunday 17th April 2011.

The annual general meeting was held on Friday evening. On Saturday there was our usual excursion to Hadrian's Wall.  This year we visited Housesteads, where we had not been for some time. Those unable to tackle the climb to Housesteads were taken to Steel Rig for a short stroll before being reunited with the rest of the group at Housesteads car park. After a picnic lunch at Cawfields we visited Vindolanda, where much new work has been carried out on the museum as well as continuing excavation.  Recently (September 2010) the skeleton of a young person was found buried in a pit in a barrack block floor. The find is dated to around the AD 250's, when the Fourth Cohort of Gauls formed the garrison. We then returned to St. Aidan's in time for dinner.

After dinner Matthew Symonds spoke on "Crossing the line: controlling access on Hadrian's Wall".

On Sunday morning David Woolliscroft spoke on "New work in Scotland".

After the coffee break. Adrian Goldsworthy spoke on "Secret river crossings by bandits and the Roman response".                                                                   

Following lunch the Society dispersed.

Further details on the recent Vindolanda excavations and can be found by clicking on the link to their site on the Links Page.

Further information on Housesteads Fort can be found by following the link on the Links Page.


Hadrianic Society Weekend 2010.

The  Hadrianic Society Weekend (40th Anniversary) took place at St. Aidans College, Durham on Friday 16th April  to Sunday 18th April 2010.

On Friday evening we held the Annual General Meeting followed by members contributions.

On Saturday we had our usual excursion to the Wall. This year (2010) we went to the Birdoswald area, incorporating the walk from Birdoswald fort to Milecastle 48 that was done by the 2009 Pilgrimage people (the coach was available to transport those who did not wish to do the walking).

Members may like to check out the link to Birdoswald Roman Fort which is on our links page. This link leads to the Birdoswald page of the excellent 'Visit Cumbria' website. As well as many superb aerial photos by Simon Ledingham of Birdoswald Fort etc, there are links to other parts of the Wall built into the text which lead to Gilsland Mile Castle 48, Willowford Bridge, Banks Turrets 51B and 52A and the Pike Hill Signal Tower.

On Saturday evening a special 40th Anniversary Dinner was held in the Lindisfarne Centre.

On Sunday commencing at 9-15am  Jon Coulston  spoke on - The Partho-Sassanid Art of War ( part 1).

There was a short interval for coffee at 11-00.

Jon then continued with The Partho-Sassanid Art of War (part 2).

After lunch Nick Hodgson spoke on-  The enemies of Rome in Northern Britain and following a short tea break,  Birgitta Hoffmann spoke on- The Garamantes.

The society then dispersed. 


Hadrianic Society Weekend 2009.

The Hadrianic Society Weekend 2009 took place from the 3rd April (Friday) to the 5th April 2009 and was again be based at St. Aidans College, Durham.  The weekend  followed the same format as 2008.

On Friday evening we had our AGM, followed by members contributions.

The AGM and all lectures were held in the library.

On Saturday we followed the line of Dere Street past Lanchester and Ebchester forts to Corbridge, had morning coffee, visited the Roman bridge and saw the beautifully conserved road ramp up to it and then continued to Cawfields for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon we visited Vindolanda to see the newly-exposed granaries.

Saturday evening David Breeze  spoke on "Did Hadrian design Hadrian's Wall?".

Sunday morning Jon Coulston spoke on "Trajan's Column - a window on the Roman Army".

David Breeze  followed  with "The making of a new World Heritage Site - the Antonine Wall".