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Hadrian's Wall has been designated a World Heritage Site since 1987 and in 2005 was also incorporated into a wider UNESCO category - the Frontiers of the Roman Empire.
It is also the basis for an 84 mile National Trail. The book will cover not only the full length of Hadrian's Wall from the Solway Firth to Wallsend on Tyneside, but also other places of historical, landscape or architectural merit to the north and south of the actual Wall itself. Chapter One Background and History Chapter Two The Solway Coast Chapter Three Carlisle to Birdoswald Chapter Four Birdoswald to Cawfields Chapter Five Cawfields to Housesteads Chapter Six Housesteads to Chesters Chapter Seven Living History Chapter Eight Chesters to Heddon-on-the-Wall Chapter Nine Heddon to Wallsend Chapter Ten Archeology and Conservation
267mm x 250mm hardback
Imagine an evening of impressive calm. The restless waters of the Solway beyond the breakwater seem almost at peace. The shoreline is just a dark silhouette broken only by the occasional roof and telegraph pole. The clouds in the sky are dark and heavy, but there is a pale emptiness beyond, and, to the left, on the horizon, is the last golden glow of the departing sun. The clouds and their watery reflections are purple and the otherwise silvery waters stretch towards the Scottish shore.
The image speaks of the end of empire.
The Romans built the wall and the stone forts that extended down the coast.
The stones have gone to build the stolid mass of Drumburgh Castle. It seems a farmhouse with ideas above its station. A grand stone staircase leads up to a studded door on the first floor. A small bed of yellow tulips illuminates a picture of walkers on the last leg of Hadrian’s Wall as they troop past the house.
They will have already walked along the curving embankment that carried the railway to Port Carlisle, and have looked across the marsh with the black cows grazing towards the waters of the Solway.
The isolated monument to Edward I on the marshy shore of the Solway looking across to Scotland is a small cross raised to the heaviest of skies with only the glow of a pale sun to relieve the gloom.
The church at Burgh has taken the stones from the deserted fort at Aballava and built a house of prayer. But the message is ambiguous. The tower is as solid, strong and impregnable as any fortress and needed to be in the days when it was built and the villagers fled to a place of safety. In Derry Brabbs’s picture the light softens the stones of the quiet church and lies on the curved tops of the jumbled gravestones.
Further east, the red sandstone of Carlisle Castle is caught against a watery blue sky. For once, divorced from its dual carriageway, the castle appears as the superb medieval building it really is.
The monks of Lanercost used the stones of the vanished empire to build their peaceful church in its quiet valley.
Further east. The Wall remains. At Birdoswald three sheep walk alongside the remains of the Wall where Roman centurions might once have paced as they stood at the very extremity of their civilized world. The light from another heavy sky catches the white of their fleeces and illuminates the edges of the stones.
In Benwell across in Newcastle, a small temple to Antenociticus stands almost in the garden of a modern, brick-built semi.
Derry Brabbs has made a name for himself as one of our finest landscape photographers. He worked with Alfred Wainwright in his later years, when his camera replaced A.W’s sharp eyes and tireless pen.
This book presents a very personal view of Hadrian’s Wall. Derry has written the text as well, but it is the photographs that really tell the story. They capture the Wall beneath the endlessly changing light and its cloudy skies.
Hadrian’s Wall as it rides across England from coast to coast, broken and pilfered, is one of the world’s most evocative monuments.
These pictures communicate something of its special presence.
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