My Fourth Day in Newcastle: An Introduction to Hadrian’s Wall (Aprille Tijam, ITP 2019, Philippines)

Written by Aprille Tijam, Senior Manager, Exhibitions and Collections, Ayala Museum (ITP 2019, Philippines)

The weather in Newcastle has been kind to me and my ITP colleagues Ciprian Dobra (Romania), Jasmine Qiao (China), and Jacob Nii Marley (Ghana) assigned to our placement partner at the Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums.  There was little to no rain for the first four days. It was a cloudy in the beginning of my fourth day, but the sky cleared by early afternoon for a good walk at the archaeological site at Segedunum Fort.

A walk on the excavation site of Hadrian’s Wall at Segedunum Fort

I had never heard of Hadrian’s Wall in my entire life. I only saw Hadrian’s Wall in my ITP programme. The fourth day was my introduction day to this famous wall. It started with a visit to the Great North Museum: Hancock with my three ITP colleagues, Claire Messenger, John Williams (British Museum Head of Photographic), and Jackie Bland (Training and Governance Officer, TWAM). Andrew Parkin, Keeper of Archaeology, gave a comprehensive tour of the different galleries in the museum. One of these galleries is dedicated to an exhibition on Hadrian’s Wall where a scale model of the 73-mile-long wall sits across the centre of the exhibition. This is how I got to know for the first-time the details about this historic wall.

“Are you tall enough to be a cavalryman in the Roman Army?” Ciprian Dobra is. Jackie Bland (TWAM) and Jacob Nii Marley measure Ciprian’s height.

Various archaeological artefacts were on display, showcasing the stories behind the making of the wall. Construction began in AD 122, upon the instructions of Roman Emperor Hadrian and was dutifully named after him. It is said that this wall was to separate the Romans and the barbarians. What is most interesting for a foreigner like me is the looped video illustrating the land development of UK over the centuries, showing areas where Hadrian’s Wall cuts across northern England as the frontier of the Roman Empire.

The exhibition gave me an overarching picture of the history of this wall and its importance to British history. It provided me with some foundation to understand and make the connections to the other upcoming archaeological site visits at the Segedunum Fort and Museum in the afternoon, and Birdoswald Roman Fort, Cawfield’s Milecastle, and Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum in the days to come. 

John Williams sharing stories and invaluable tips on photography to ITP
                  participants on the evening of my fourth day in Newcastle.

The day was capped off with a dinner with Claire and John before they headed back to London. Stories and laughter were shared over sumptuous meals and Rumanian wine at the Botanist, an inconspicuous yet cozy restaurant near the Grey Monument in Newcastle. It was a great day spent with welcoming museum professionals and with my cheerful ITP Newcastle team. I am excited to see more of Hadrian’s Wall!