Tag Archives: ruins

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.

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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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.

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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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
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!

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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Stony & Textural Black & White in Barcelona, Spain

Even in sunny Spain, there are cold, wet, and gloomy days when the colour of the sky is flat and bright shades of clothing or advertising are muted and subdued. What better time to switch to black and white photography which actually enhances the image since you are looking at the bones, the structure, or the texture instead of being wowed by snappy-bright colour.

These are from Barcelona on a wet but wonderful Sunday. The building is the Museu d’Història de la Ciutat, the city museum of Barcelona. This 15th Century palace was moved, stone by stone, from its original location in 1931 due to the upcoming construction of a roadway. When the new site on Placa del Rei was being excavated and prepared for the rebuilding of the palace, there was a stunning archaeological find — a large section of the old Roman city was still lying beneath the city streets of Barcelona!

I will have a slide show from the interior of this museum in the coming days.



Upper exterior of the dramatically gloomy 15th Century building housing the Barcelona History Museum. This historic palace is built atop part of an excavated Roman city.


Gargoyles ring the upper part of the history museum in Barcelona


Entry to the imposing 15th Century stone palace housing the Barcelona History Museum. An excavated section of the former Roman city is on view in the lower levels.


One last picture — a glimpse through a narrow passageway which is down the street from the museum.

View down a narrow passage in Barcelona, Spain


©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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Berlin – The Brandenburg Gate or Brandenburger Tor

It wasn’t even the official high-tourism season so we hoped for the best regarding overcrowding. The Brandenburg Gate — more correctly known to Berliners as the Brandenburger Tor, was high on our list of ‘must see’ places in Berlin.

I can now report that yes, it was beautiful — yes, it had historic significance in layer-upon-layer — and yes we ‘did it’ just as we endured standing in line for oh-so-long in Paris to see the Eiffel Tower. But be aware that there are always hoards of tourists standing in front of it getting their photos taken — just as I did with my grumpy little face below because the sun was in my eyes. Ah well!

It’s a massive set of sculptures atop that classical gate and the side view below give you a better perspective of the size.

Brandenburger Tor - Brandenburg Gate sideview

Four horses and iron cross atop Brandenburger Tor/Brandenburg Gate

Deborah at Brandenburger Tor with grumpy face from too much sun & wind

You can click on the link for Brandenburg Gate and read the history and see some of the photographs from various periods of time. But I have to admit, I was more impacted by the idea that it had been so integral in the recent history when the Berlin Wall was still in place than during the World War II era. The photos we have seen in various places around the city have made us realize what a shock it must have been to the people of Berlin to suddenly have whole sections of their beloved city cut off — including famous and familiar landmarks.

In spite of the crowds — some of whom were high school students on their end-of-term field trips — the area is quite lovely and even the lamp posts overhead have a strong design element. I hadn’t expected to see a Kennedy Museum right next to the Starbucks coffee shop in Pariser Platz, the actual name of the square in front of the gate. But it makes sense when you remember that Berlin was the site of U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s famous speech — “Ich bin ein Berliner” at the Rathaus Schöneberg — and that the Berliners regarded the Kennedy family fondly as a result of that visit.

Elegant lamp posts at the Pariser Platz

Kennedy Museum across from Brandenburg Gate/Brandenburger Tor

The quietest moment that we had was in a rather unexpected place — the previously mentioned Starbucks coffee shop on Pariser Platz. The coffee and muffin were very so-so, but the view was certainly rather special! And yes — I am rather glad that we took the time to go and see this historical site. It was, in the end, quite worth all of the crowds and all of the noise.

View of the Brandenburg Gate/Brandenburger Tor from Starbucks

Unfortunately the original beauty of these images is now partially obscured by a watermark. I have been forced to do this after discovering that other websites were using my images without permission and without payment for the usage rights.

©Deborah Harmes and ©A Wanderful Life
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Serene and Sacred in Bury St. Edmunds – Part 1

Grateful for a rain-free day, we set off across the Suffolk countryside toward the historic town of Bury St. Edmund. Our destination was the medieval abbey ruins and St. Edmundsbury Cathedral. Both of these lie side by side right within the town itself instead of being in a separate location out in the nearby countryside.

As we entered through the arch beneath the Abbey Gate seen in the photo above, we emerged into the Abbey Gardens.

Even with the winter-muted palate and bare-branched trees, the gardens are a peaceful place to walk or sit quietly on a bench.

Other than the entry gates and the beautiful old wall that formerly surrounded the compound, there is very little left of the old abbey since it was destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 during the reign of Henry VIII.

We meandered through the side garden, following the sign for the cathedral’s restaurant, The Refectory. Although we weren’t looking for food or drink, entering on that side of the building allowed us to walk the full length of the enclosed cloister and enjoy the austere beauty of the stone walls and floors, the vaulted stone ceilings, and the plain timber benches.

Cloister of St. Edmundsbury Cathedral

In tomorrow’s Part 2, I will have photos of the stunning interior of this cathedral. Make sure to check back!

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