Friday, July 1, 2011

ancient Roman fort, St Nicholas Newcastle, Hadrian's Wall trek!

After a full-English breakfast, we set off for Vindolanda, I reading a chapter from HOSTAGE LANDS, a farmer out working his sheep with an all-terrain vehicle in the moorlands as we passed (no kidding). At the fort, I talked to Robin Birley's son Andrew while he supervised a couple of dozen volunteers digging at what they believe to be a refugee camp built beside the fort. A few months ago they uncovered the skeletal remains of a child (10-11) who they believe was murdered. I will post audio of my conversation with him. Yesterday they found a remarkably intact altar stone with a serpent carving clearly evident on it. They found pottery and a brooch while we were at the fort.

We drove along the wall to Newcastle and took our imaginations back to April, 1551, when John Knox first preached at Newcastle. I read an excerpt from The Mighty Weakness of John Knox, a sample of his preaching against idolatry and his preaching of Christ and the gospel of free grace alone. Paul Walker shared with us how his great-great grandparents were married in this same church in 1818. After visiting the inside, we dispersed for lunch and some exploring, during which Cheryl and I strolled around the 12th century castle, and then went for a delicious curry at a Vietnamese restaurant in a ethnically diverse district near the church.

On our way back to our 18th century Northumbrian farm hotel, Richard dropped us off below Steel Rigg and we had another wonderful trek along a fascinating stretch of the wall. We crossed the moor to Sycamore notch, the steeply up and back down to a wall fort, then back up and down several times--rugged country--and then back to Saughy Rigg Farm for some leisure and another ample and delicious dinner (last night I had the roast duck for main course).

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