A valuable insight into the work of the networks associated with the study and promotion of Hadrian’s Wall was presented at this year’s Hadrian’s Wall Networking Day, held at Carlisle Racecourse on 22 February. From the University of Newcastle, Dr Rob Collins reported on the work undertaken by the Hadrian’s Wall Community Archaeology Project, which is designed to address conservation concerns and improve knowledge of the Wall; a current stone sourcing and dispersal project seeks to identify the local quarry sources of the Wall’s stones and their dispersal and repurposing in the construction of later buildings and of the heritage at risk it is hoped to undertake conservation at various sites including those at Port Carlisle and Walltown Crags where the wall is exposed and deteriorating. Promoting a wider knowledge of the Wall and opportunities to visit it was the Tyne Valley Community Rail Partnership, a not-for-profit company involving volunteers, its advertising (including ‘Open in Winter’ and ‘Go ! Gilsland’) being local and further afield. Roger Clegg, a freelance photographer, showed us a selection of the outstanding views he has taken at various seasons of the year and times of day to attract a wider audience to explore the area. Since 2015, English Heritage has invested almost £2m in improving sites and museums along the Wall, its full renewal of its interpretation panels (incorporating reconstruction artwork) being particularly impressive and appreciated whether by a browser or someone seeking the wider story of the Wall. To discover where a length of the Wall ran, a representative of the Ouseburn Trust told us of their research examining old maps, drawings and accounts and now, given the subsequent development of the site, the use of British Geological Survey borehole data to determine where the valley was over which the Wall would have run 1900 years ago. Of another World Heritage site, inscribed as a ‘cultural landscape’, the Lake District, we were reminded that no fewer than two dozen different organisations are involved in the management of an evolving masterpiece which has 16,500 archaeological sites and monuments including 333 scheduled ancient monuments and about 1800 listed buildings. A presentation on volunteering and community projects involving the Antonine Wall reminded us that the Roman Wall forms part of a trans-national organisation. More locally, Andrew Mackay provided an overview of the wide range and size of Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery’s archaeological, natural history and other collections and told us about the master plan (funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund) which has now been drawn up for Tullie House’s major development, with the prospect of a greater percentage of its collections being placed on display. Already the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Partnership Board is planning for 2022, the year Hadrian’s Wall will celebrate its 1900th anniversary; determined that the celebrations will be ‘bottom-up’, the Board is now seeking creative ideas. The websites of the Hadrian’s Wall Community Archaeology Project (https://wallcap.ncl.ac.uk) and Hadrian’s Wall Country (https://hadrianswall.country.co.uk) provide details of volunteering opportunities at various sites.
The speakers at the Networking Day have been invited to make their presentations available on the website of the Hadrian’s Wall Community Archaeology Project.