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Scots invade Hadrian’s Wall…

with 10 comments

Well, sort of.

I have just spent a magnificent long weekend in Gilsland on the Northumberland/Cumbria border with my lovely wife and children and with Gordon Doherty (of Legionary and Strategos fame) and his wonderful better half.

Gordon’s current portfolio:

 

Now the weekend was a particularly good one for three distinct reasons:

Firstly: Location. Our holiday cottage was close enough to Hadrian’s Wall (or at least the turf ridge that marks its passage) that I could have hit it with a thrown weasel, had I had one to hand. That kind of proximity to the ancient always gets my blood and imagination going. It also meant that in our available time we had the chance to visit a number of Roman sites (Birdoswald, Chesters, Poltross Burn, Willowford, and the Greenhead Roman Army Museum. Now that in itself is superb and worthy of pictorial memoirs and so here we go. Time to clog up your browser, broadband and memory with a run of photos:

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1. Two JAFRAs (in-joke term for a Roman Author) posing in their place of work. Do ya think we’re sexy?

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2. In case you didn’t get the details! Heh heh heh

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3. The Eastern wall and main east gate of Birdoswald (Banna) Roman fort in glorious sunshine.

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4. Marcus investigating every crevice of the Roman world.

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5. Tracey, Marcus and Callie taking in the view from the walls of Birdoswald.

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6. Simon (me) and my poser of a boy Marcus at Birdoswald. Future catalogue model in the making, you think?

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7. Poltross burn milecastle at Gilsland. One of the most sloping, geographically-challenged of all British Roman sites. Bet they never played dominoes or tried to eat soup from a shallow bowl!

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8. Renowned author of late Roman and Byzantine novels Gordon Doherty surveys his domain from the top of the wall. He is clearly uninspired by the railway fencing and the other tourists!

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9. Marcus tries to recreate Willowford’s early 3rd century Roman bridge by dropping stones into the river one at a time.

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10. Gordon appears to like Willowford.

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11. A detail shot of the three stages of bridge abutment at Willowford for those interested in real historical things rather than just posturing or…

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12. Pictures of WILLIES!!!!

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13. Chesters museum hasn’t changed much since Victoria was on the throne, but that just makes it all the better for me. Great, isn’t it?

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14. Marcus and Callie seem to like it anyway. I think Marcus just squeezed one out, looking at that…

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15. Too cool for school. Gordon Doherty and S.J.A. Turney trying to look normal among the barrack blocks of the cavalry fort of Cilurnum (Chesters)

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16. Callie and Marcus making no attempt to look normal and yet still beating us at the game…

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17. Deep in discussion. Come on, ladies… two Roman fiction authors in a hot baths together… phwoooaaarrrhhh!!! Or… not.

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18. Callie tries to work out why her boat won’t float.

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19. Gordon Doherty being tour guide and discussing the relative heights of original floor level in a Roman bath house.

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20. Simon and Gordon take a seat in the apodyterium (changing room). It was too cold for just a subligaculum and wooden clogs!

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21. The underfloor heating of the Commanding Officer’s baths. Now if only they’d been working. Oooh that chill wind….

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22. The ancient military meets the modern. Love this shot that wifey took: Chinook helicopters over Hadrian’s Wall. Bet the Caledonii would have been a pushover had Agricola got his hands on a couple of those…

The second reason the weekend was good? Well, because of great friends and family. Gordon and his wife are excellent company and the weekend was just comfortable and great fun.

But the third reason: It was not all fun. In fact, only half of it was having a beer and gallivanting around the Roman sites. The rest of it involved Gordon and I sitting in a room surrounded by laptops, pads and pens and reference books while we took the bare idea of a plot we had a while back and hammered it out before folding it and adding a keen edge and turning it into a fully fledged story right down to a chapter plan. Yes, as you may have noted on Twitter or Facebook, Gordon and I will shortly be embarking on a collaborative project and the story we have so far is fabulous. I mean, it’s going to knock your socks off, so you’d best send home to mummy for more with the next delivery (Vindolanda joke – sad, I know.) But it really is a stunning idea. We will start to release occasional teasers once we’re properly involved in the writing, which will being some time after the release of Gordon’s Strategos II and my Marius’ Mules V. I will simply leave you with these images to give you something to chew on….

bust  bridge building

Have a really nice week, folks. Will be back the day after tomorrow with a book review and then something else at the weekend.

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Written by SJAT

April 23, 2013 at 4:49 pm

10 Responses

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  1. This blogpost is a mixture of the superb and the ridiculous. Your family look good. The sites look good. The rest has hurt my eyes!

    Like

    fromtheprivacyofmyhead

    April 23, 2013 at 5:13 pm

  2. Yeah you and Gordon are sexy all right…love those pasty whitened winter arms with the tats.. 🙂

    Like

    tigers68

    April 23, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    • That’s us at our suntanned best. I’m a Yorkshireman and Gordon’s Scottish. We both naturally revert to blue skin in winter. It takes months of sun and open air to get us to white.

      Like

      SJAT

      April 23, 2013 at 6:16 pm

  3. I’ve decided that you two (Gordon and Simon) do not sleep, do not eat and have normal functions like the rest of us. How else could you possibly be as prolific and excellent as you are? Apart from drinking English ale, what are your secrets.
    PS: Hate to say this but the littlest legionaires were more photogenic… sorry!
    PPS: Are they REAL tatts?

    Like

    prue batten

    April 24, 2013 at 1:51 am

    • Heh heh heh. What would we do without our TARDIS? Agreed about the kids, though. 🙂 And no, not real tatts. Could you imagine Tracey’s face if I did that?

      Like

      SJAT

      April 24, 2013 at 7:39 am

  4. Thank goodness the Picts didn’t launch a surprise kidnap attack.

    Like

    Martin Lake

    April 24, 2013 at 5:34 pm

  5. Oh the battles you two must have formulated. I can imagine you could hardly wait to start typing all those scenes in your head. Did the two of you consider writing the chapters from both points of view? That might be even more interesting…~ like a real battle plan. Oh wait, did I just give you an idea for the NEXT BOOK?

    Like

    67andgood

    April 24, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    • That’s sort of part of the plan! 😉

      Like

      SJAT

      April 24, 2013 at 10:27 pm


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