Boundaries, right here! – and the end of a line.
On commemorating the Roman Festival of Boundaries, we found that we live at the end of an ancient boundary-extension, without knowing it! We have marked the occasion before – Psychogeogeography marks the occasion https://terminaliafestival.org/ , as well as Women who Walk: women-who-walk.org/terminalia-sync-walk-23-02-20/, and more. However, we have never marked the day here, where we live now – and this place turns out to be the hidden southerly outpost Hadrian’s Wall! – the end of the ‘wall’ behind it the Wall.
What we (that is, Simon Bradley and me) knew already is that there is a milefortlet near us, which is part of Hadrian’s Wall’s lesser-known outer defenses, erected to capture those who come or escape via the sea-route. These remains are of ‘Milefortlet 21’. Now if it’s the 21st milefortlet, it means there must have been at least 20 more fortlets between Hadrian’s Wall and here – and, furthermore, that this milefortlet is 21 miles away from the actual Wall. What we didn’t know is that there are, in fact 25 milefortlets, and the end of the line is exactly where we are, in the little town of Maryport, called Alauna in Roman times! I reel in amazement: here, right here, in a little, and little-known, unassuming and often unheard-of village ‘out in the sticks’ – here is exactly the outer outpost of the whole of the Roman Empire! A little village on a big big line! Like a Roman Meridian greeting.
So we are 25 miles away from the Wall, but connected to it by a line of milefortlets, which are said to have been connected to each other by a fence. Imagine a 25 mile-long fence! Immigratiion was tough back then even!
The Roman god of boundaries unbound
Even this best kept Milefortlet 21 (in the line of fortlets per mile to the wall) looks like less than a ruin, with only tiny walls and outlines left on the ground.
To see the fortlet, the best meeting point near-by is the little car park outside Crosscanonby Carr Nature Reserve, (the first in the Solway Plain AONB: Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). – which itself was once a car park – from Car to Carr!
From there the coastal path, next to the coastal road, would take us to the milefortlet. But on the way, literally across the forlet, at the edge of the beach, are two medieval saltpans – which we included in our walk. They are two circles, ringed by a low stone wall,
around one of them. As you step out of the circle you are already on the beach, and there we collected 21 pebbles, for the 21st Milefortlet! When we got there, sunset-time approached, and after looking around the fortlet, which was familiar to us from previous visits. We then walked out of the forlet, to the wild grass next to it, and then walked back 6 steps in a southeasterly direction. This was to emulate the 6th milestone outside the Roman city of Laurentum, where the Romans placed their offerings to the god Terminus. This too is what we learned this time: the offering towards Laurentum at the 6th milestone – and it was Laurentum because that used to be the border of the Roman Empire. Was this offering made to guard the border, or to overcome it? Was it for or against immigraiton? I hope it was for immigration and against the border. It’s in this vein that we celebratee Terminalia – as a critical act.
Moreover i found out was that there is also a tree called ‘Terminus’. A whole family!
And to top this up, i found some news of that day regarding the surpassing of boundaries, which was the opening of a new raiway station! That’s Worcester Parkway, Briain’s youngest railway station (which was strangely hardly mentioned), opened on the 23rd Feb 2020, our Termin-inter-alia Day!