Monday, 13 October 2014

Roman Wall Pilgrimage 1849

The first account of the Wall to appear in print was in William Camden's Brittania published in 1600 and 1607 : see Research on Hadrian's Wall, Eric Birley, Kendal ,1961, Chapter One.
Brittania was a history of the British Isles from earliest times. Camden used a local informant, one Bainbrigg. The original text was published in Latin but editions in English appeared in 1695 and 1722.

Meanwhile a Scot, Sir John Clerk of Penicuik had arranged a visit to Northumberland to study the management of collieries. He published his reactions to the wall in 1726. He was the first to enunciate the attitude of the Scottish Enlightenment to the Wall and the remains. 

On Clerk see "The Genius of the Place" ed. Willis and Hunt, London, 1975; Landscape Garden In Scotland, Tait , Edinburgh, 1980, p18 ; Stuart Piggot Ruins in the Landscape; Essays in Antiquarianism, Edinburgh, 1976, p.142.

The eighteenth century fascination with the civilising effect of exposure to the remains of classical antiquity was the impulse behind the publication of the "Vallum Romanum" by John Warburton in 1753. This was the first guidebook to the Wall:
"By this means, both pleasure and instruction will accrue to such of our young nobility and gentry who shall travel to see them: An emulation will be raised among our youths of fine genius: Roman learning will become their favourite study, and old Rome in time be rivalled by Britain." Quoted Birtley op cit. p18, who claims the guide plagiarised and copied the available literature.

From then onwards publications on the Wall increased. Birley lists:
1769, Natural History and Antiquities of Northumberland, John Wallis;
1776, Excursion to the Lakes (2nd ed),William Hutchison;
1789 and 1806 Richard Gough, new edition of Britania ;
1789 Brand, History of Newcastle.

The first systematised study of the entire remains appeared in Hodgson's contribution to a volume of "The Beauties of England and Wales" published in 1812, an account which began the collection of information published eventually as "The History of Northumberland" in 1840.

William Hutton (30 September 1723 – 20 September 1815)

“Perhaps, I am the first man that ever travelled the whole length of this Wall, and probably the last that will ever attempt it ... Who then will say, he has, like me, travelled it twice!

“Old people are much inclined to accuse youth of their follies; but on this head silence will become me, lest I should be asked, ‘What can exceed the folly of that man, who, at seventy-eight, walked six hundred miles to see a Shattered Wall’”

The Pilgrimages on the Wall in 1849 and 1885; the meeting of the Archaeological Institute, August 1852.

Wallington Hall, Northumberland: William Bell Scott, Eight Pictures illustrative of the History of the English Border, No.1. Building the Roman Wall.

Similar conclusions are drawn by Paul Usherwood on the significance of this material : see his Hadrian’s Wall and the New Romans ( in Northumbrian Panorama. Studies in the History and Culture of North East England,  ed T.E. Faulkener, Octavian Press, London, 1996 pp. 151-162)

Embleton, Dennis, 1810-1900, attributed

Notes taken on the pilgrimage along the Roman wall : manuscript, 1849 July.Account of an antiquarian tour along Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland with twenty enthusiasts, many members of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle; with drawings.

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