We started the day with a Roman fort along Hadrian’s Wall. The wall was built in the 1st and 2nd century as a dividing line between England and Scotland. The Romans successfully subdued the locals in the South, but had no luck with the barbaric Northerners, so walled them off and left them to it.
The fort (called a mile castle, because there was one every mile along the wall) was quite intact, I’m guessing because the area is quite inaccessible, so no one bothered to rob it out or plow it after the Romans departed. You can still see big parts of buildings, it’s amazing.
From here we headed into Durham for lunch, and a look at the cathedral. This 1000-year-old church houses the bones of no less than two saints – St Cuthbert and St Bede. Not surprisingly, Durham was sacked by Henry VIII and is now, like most cathedrals in Britain, owned by the Church of England. It is a huge place, and allows you to climb the 325 steps up to the very tippy-top of the 66 metre high central tower. it’s the tallest tower in the city, and the views are amazing!
We drove on to Whitby from here, through the Yorkshire moors. They looked as moorish as I was hoping for – lots of heather and mist.
Whitby, a seaside fishing town, is a very cool place. It has a mish-mash of buildings all put together over hundreds of year, and none of them with a plumb line by the looks of them. It’s a every old town, first settled in the 7th century.
Stephen and I were keen to come here for different reasons. I was excited to see the place that James Cook learned his trade, and where the Endeavour was built in 1764.
Stephen was keen to see the abbey where, in 664, a meeting (Synod) of the chiefs of the area and the monastic leaders took place. The two main churches – the Roman and Ionan (Celtic) had different methods of calculating Easter, and they met to decide which one to adopt. They went with the Roman. It decision was about more than just Easter though, it meant that the Roman rather than the Celtic church became dominant in Britain after this time. And this domination continued until Henry VIII split with the Catholic church in the 16th century (during what is now called the Reformation) and created the Church of England. The abbey that stands on the hill above Whitby today is of later vintage (10th century) and was sacked during the Reformation. Full circle.
So that’s your history lesson for today! We had a good poke around Whitby this afternoon, and a lovely Thai dinner before retiring to our truly lovely B&B, tucked up at the top of the 3-story building and very cosy.