Today or I guess yesterday we began our travels to Scotland. Our flight from SLC to JFK was easy enough- although poor Rachel had to sit on the same aisle with me twice, meaning she was forced to give me the thumbs up as I compulsively checked on all of them on both our earlier and later flights! Did I mention that I don’t like to fly?
We were greeted at the airport in Edinburgh with the ample need to eat anything other than airplane food- Zoe led the charge for “something, anything” to eat. We then stopped for a quick photo with the “EDINBURGH” sign, and made our way out to meet our coach driver for the day. Peter the driver gave us a tremendous gift in agreeing to take our entire group out to Hadrian’s Wall, knowing that we had missed our opportunity to experience the wall yesterday. The hike took us on high ramparts with incredible views of both Scotland and Northumbria. While the toll was great on all of our tired bodies, we enjoyed the time better understanding the symbolic nature of Hadrian’s Wall after hearing the history from Ms. South.
Hadrian’s Wall was built in the 2nd century and served as the northernmost fortified stretch of defenses of the early English Roman Empire. While Antonius Pius would build a wall further north later, Hadrian’s Wall is incredibly well preserved and gives us great insight into the longstanding enmity shared between the Scots and English from the classical age. Every (1) mile the Roman soldiers who constructed the wall built a fort, and as we walked eastward across the wall, we passed two of these incredibly preserved structures. Parker and I shared a great moment discussing Roman cement and the immense ability to maintain its shape over the centuries. While walking up and down the battlements, I shared other conversations with Lexi, Miranda and Ella on the benefits of dogs, was serenaded by Dreeg’s phenomenal cover of a “Fire Emblem” song, and was happy to receive the kindness of locals who help me and our group when we were lost in the maze of the walls!
After our visit at the wall, Peter took us to our hostel in downtown Newcastle. Portions of Hadrian’s Wall are still visible in Newcastle today, but the city itself shines with all the life and electricity of a modern city. After getting checked-into the hotel, we went and grabbed a bite at the Fat Hippo– a local favorite burger bar. Of course Alex was excited, but Ms. South and I were excited to have substantive conversations with all of our students regarding their experience at the wall. What does this wall mean to Scotland? What does this wall mean to England? Why would a classical identifier of the separation be important to the separation between the Scottish and English nations. When we sat down to discuss, many of our students shared important insights but Kaira mentioned the views as something that will remain etched in her memory which sparked further conversations on the nature of the “English Heritage” organization versus its counterpart “HIstoric Scotland.” While neither of these share the title of U.K.- we agreed that much of this distress is still alive and well. As a group we talked about graffiti, the nature of man, the origins of organized religion, the Presbyterian Church, Martin Luther and the trick to getting your lights on in your European hotel room (inserting your key into a slot on the wall ;)) Needless to say, a typical Waterford evening was spent before settling in for an early evening in our hotel. We’re up early tomorrow morning for a quick breakfast and then a trip to Durham Cathedral.