Tag Archives: archaeology

What’s A Wall For in Melbourne?

What’s a wall for in Melbourne, Australia? Structural support of the building that it is attached to? Decorative element? An item that surrounds a garden?

How about advertising — both old and new?

Whilst out and about in Balaclava today, the next neighbourhood over from us by a mere few blocks, I saw both new and old advertising on the walls of buildings. Some of the truly old adverts were like ghostly presences against masonry walls that told the tale of what had once dwelt within. Here are some samples. Enjoy!

 

Historic advertising on an old wall in the Melbourne, Australia neighbourhood of Balaclava

Historic advertising on an old wall in the Melbourne, Australia neighbourhood of Balaclava


 
Historic advertising on the upper wall of an old building in the Melbourne, Australia neighbourhood of Balaclava

Historic advertising on the upper wall of an old building in the Melbourne, Australia neighbourhood of Balaclava


 
Newer advertising painted on the passageway wall of a cafe in the Melbourne, Australia neighbourhood of Balaclava

Newer advertising painted on the passageway wall of a cafe in the Melbourne, Australia neighbourhood of Balaclava


 

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Hadrian’s Wall in Winter — Part 2

Returning to our visit to Hadrian’s Wall and the museums at Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum — here is Part Two.

Walking on an increasingly downhill slope, we continued through the ruins which included what would have been a massive bathhouse for the hundreds of Roman soldiers stationed in this distant land.

 

Sign at Vindolanda explaining the Roman baths that once existed here


 

Archaeological excavation at the Roman baths in Vindolanda along Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England


 

Then we followed the winding path that led sharply downhill through the trees toward the Chesterholm Museum, the former family home of the archaeologist Eric Birley — a house that now contains many of the discoveries from decades of excavations. This entire site is an ongoing excavation and volunteers can sign on during the warm weather months to work alongside the professional archaeologists on a dig. What fun it would be to bring up some ancient coin or fragment of pottery and know that you contributed to the efforts to reclaim history.

 

Chesterholm Museum on the grounds of Vindolanda, a large Roman fortress and village along Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England


 

A Roman temple replica in the gardens of the Chesterholm Museum at Vindolanda, a large fortress and village along Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England


 

We were not allowed to take any photos inside the museum so, after viewing the exhibits and the gift shop, we began the slow uphill hike along the winding path and back into the main section of ruins — all the time walking on the ancient Roman roads.

 

Walking on the old Roman road inside Vindolanda at Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England


 

Standing in the past on an ancient Roman road at Vindolanda near Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England.


 

Feeling seriously hungry by this time, we drove out of the parking lot toward the second museum on this section of Hadrian’s Wall, the Roman Army Museum. I asked at the front desk of Vindolanda for a recommendation for lunch and the charming woman on duty drew me a tiny map to lead me to a local pub with good food and accommodations where the archaeologists stayed during the summer months. The name of the town was (seriously!) Once Brewed and the name of the pub was Twice Brewed!

 

Looking for the Twice Brewed pub in the village of Once Brewed in the North of England


 

The Roman theme continues at the Twice Brewed pub in the village of Once Brewed in the North of England


 

The Twice Brewed pub in the village of Once Brewed in the North of England


 

After a nice lunch, we drove the few miles further to the Roman Army Museum. Again, we were not allowed to take any photos within the museum — a pity since the exhibits are quite good — but we enjoyed what we saw and the 3-D film called Edge Of Empire gives you a good idea of the size and scale of the fortifications and just-outside-the-wall village at Vindolanda.

 

Roman Army Museum entry at Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England


 

These are truly informative museums (especially the Vindolanda site), but I would recommend seeing them both in a single day to get a complete overview to life as a Roman soldier in this remote and harsh landscape. The two museums are a mere 7 miles apart and are easily visited in one afternoon. I highly recommend these sites to anyone who is travelling to this part of the North of England.

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Hadrian’s Wall in Winter — Part 1

According to what we heard from several people during the month that we visited Newcastle, the North of England is a cold and damp place for a minimum of 6 months (and sometimes longer!) of each year. It was therefore not a great stretch of the imagination to visualise what a shock to the brain and body it must have been for soldiers from the warmer climate of Italy when they travelled north to be stationed at the remote and icy fortifications along Hadrian’s Wall.

We chose a day that was forecast to contain at least a small measure of blue sky and off we went to Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum which were both along that historic fortified wall.

The entry building at Vindolanda gave no clues to what was lying in the hills and fields beyond. So it was a pleasant (but icy cold!) surprise to walk through the building, pass a cluster of bundled-up school children on a class outing, and emerge into a biting wind and onto a pathway that led to a huge archaeological excavation.
 

Entry to Vindolanda at Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England


 

School children eating their lunch outside on an icy day at Vindolanda (yes, that IS ice in the fountain!) at Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England


 

Entry sign for Vindolanda at Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England


 

A cold day for a visit to Vindolanda at Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England


 

The ruins were stretched out in both directions beneath the snow-covered hills. But I must admit that we were walking rather briskly through them as I took pictures and gasped with each blast of sub-zero wind.

 

Ongoing excavations at Vindolanda at Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England


 

Ongoing excavations inside Vindolanda at Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England


 

Underfloor heating system in a ruin that has been excavated at Vindolanda at Hadrian’s Wall in the North of England


 

Come back soon for Part 2 of our wintery visit to the two museums at Hadrian’s Wall and lots more photos including exterior pictures of the larger museum buildings, the gardens in winter, and the spot for our mid-afternoon meal break.

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Slivers of History On The Side Of The Road in France

You forget sometimes, you really do. Living pretty well anywhere in Europe means that you are always immersed in history. But it still puts a smile on your face when you are out having a drive through the countryside and you see something like this — the medieval Château de Quéribus — built in 1200 and considered to be the last of the Cathar strongholds.

 

Road sign for the Cathar stronghold Chateau de Queribus in the Aude region of the Midi-Pyrenees in France


 

Perched atop the highest point for miles around, the Cathar stronghold Chateau de Queribus in the Aude region of the Midi-Pyrenees in France


 

We aren’t certain if we will be going back in the late Spring for a visit once the chateau is re-opened for the tourist season. But I wanted to share this little glimpse of the fascinating and ever-present history that is a part of life in France.

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Inside the History Museum in Barcelona

As promised, here are images from inside the Museu d’Història de la Ciutat, the city museum of Barcelona.
 

Museu d’Història de la Ciutat entry sign


 
After going through several ground floor galleries full of archaeological discoveries from the ancient Roman city beneath Barcelona, visitors enter an elevator and descend several levels until they are two stories beneath their starting point. An audio track played as you enter the elevator reminds you that you are going back 2,000 years in time as you descend.
 
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7-Roman Column Inscription
8-Roman Mosaic Floor
9- Roman City Ruins With Tourists
10-Ornate Roman Column
11-Clay Wine-Making Fermentation Vats
12-RomanSquareColumnRemnants.jpg
2-Roman Amphora
3-Roman Decorative Fragments
4-Roman Heads
5-Column Upper Detail
6-Roman City Ruins Beneath Barcelona
7-Roman Column Inscription

 

This museum was an unexpected discovery. We had arrived in Barcelona with plans to visit several Gaudi sites, the Miro museum, and the Picasso Museum. But this was certainly a place worth devoting an afternoon to!

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Mystical and Mysterious Megaliths in Carnac, France

Black and white photography is oft-times better, especially when you wish to see the texture and depth of an object or scene and not simply be dazzled by the ‘prettiness’ of colour.

Legends have offered many explanations for the placement of thousands of Neolithic standing stones in rows or wavelike patterns at Carnac in Britanny, France. The chronicles of Julius Caesar mention that he met with a Druid chieftain within the complex of stones at Carnac and one legend claims that the unwelcome Roman legions were turned into the lines of stones.
 

Standing stones at Carnac in Brittany, France


 
The stark beauty of the unadorned stone is frequently better seen in black and white, so here is a continuation of the previous photo essay in colour. And this time the mood of the place itself is, in my mind, better interpreted by the black and white photos.
 

Standing stones as far as the eye can see at Carnac in Britanny, France. B&W


 
Faces are often seen in these wonderful stones and my own interpretation of the picture below is this. Of the 4 largest stones, from left to right, one might see a lion facing to the right, a cobra-faced man, and an elephant facing left with part of its trunk knocked off.
 

Craggy faces in stone at Carnac in Britanny, France


 

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The Silent Stones of Carnac

The mysterious megalithic standing stones at Carnac in Britanny, northern France, had been on our list of places to see for many years. So we were pleased to be able to take a side jaunt as we drove from the top of France to the bottom over a three day period. We arrived on the last day of winter, a mere one day before the official Spring re-opening for the tourists and the reinstatement of the guided tours.
 

Yellow blooms against mysterious gray megalithic stones at Carnac, Britanny, France


 
There are thousands upon thousands of these standing stones spread out over several miles. It is simply stunning to see this many ancient megaliths in one place!
 

Megalithic stones at Carnac in Britanny, France stretch as far as the eye can see


 
There were no admission costs to pay since we were out of season, but we also found ourselves locked out and unable to walk around the stones and we had to make do with viewing them across the ugly and flimsy wire fence that surrounded the entire area. I won’t lie — that was quite disappointing.
 

Fences keep visitors away from the Carnac stones unless accompanied by a guide


 
Over the years we have visited many stone circles or megaliths or dolmens and the only time we have been restricted from walking right up to the stones was at Stonehenge in England. I suppose that the reasoning behind the decision to enclose the Carnac stones within a fence is for the same reasons as the Stonehenge separation from the hoards of tourists — to minimize potential damage. But apparently it was a decision that has angered many of the local residents who resent the change in policy and the requirement to pay an ‘official guide’ to accompany them.
 

Sign at Carnac standing stones explains the requirement for an official guide


 
One of the interesting aspects of visiting ancient stone sites has always been the ability to reach out and touch the stones and ‘tune in’ to any residual energy that still dwells within. We were unable to do that in this place and I must admit, it left me with a curiously ‘detached’ feeling about a place that I had so looked forward to visiting prior to our arrival.
 

Ancient megalithic standing stones at Carnac in Britanny, France


 
Just as in the much smaller Avebury complex in England, the stones are within a village that has grown up around the ancient site. But it was surprising to see just how very, very close some of the stones were to the well-established houses.
 

White house nestled amongst the standing stones at Carnac in Britanny, France


 

Standing stones in Carnac run right up to the village houses


 
I can’t really comment on the quality of the guided tour since we were there out of season and didn’t pay the €9 fee, but the Carnac Standing Stones are an interesting stop in Britanny and certainly well worth a detour if you are in that part of France.

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