Episode 6 – Far From Home: The People of Hadrian’s Wall
Set on a spectacular ridgeline in the Cumbrian hills, Birdoswald Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall was once a meeting place for communities from across the Roman Empire. Men, women and children travelled from as far afield as Spain and Syria in order to serve at the empire’s north-western frontier. At Birdoswald, inscriptions and symbols reveal that the Dacians, from modern-day Romania, built a community here over many hundreds of years.
Join Josie Long as she explores the diverse and complex cultures of Birdoswald in our final episode of Speaking with Shadows – the podcast that listens to the people that history forgot.
In this final episode of the series Josie meets Andrew Roberts and Frances McIntosh to learn more about the people who lived at Birdoswald and what the site can tell us about how their identities changed over time. Burial urns discovered in a nearby field and now on display in the museum offer an intriguing insight into the lives and deaths of women and children living on the Wall. The Romanian poet Denisa Comănescu reads from her poem ‘A Birdoswald Sequence’ while local residents Malcolm Redman and Angela Stephenson tell us about their lives on the Wall today.
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The People of Birdoswald
Once sworn enemies of the Roman Empire, the Dacians became trusted protectors of its north-western frontier. They lived at Birdoswald longer than any other military unit, and left the deepest legacy. The names and symbols they left behind show that their identities were rich, complex and ever-changing. Not only were they loyal to the institutions of the empire, but they adopted local rituals and gods, while cherishing links to far-flung parts of the Roman world.
Explore their story and learn more about the diverse cultures on Hadrian’s Wall.Read more
- Hingley, Richard, Hadrian’s Wall: A Life (Oxford, 2012)
- Hodgson, Nick, Hadrian’s Wall: Archaeology and History at the Limit of Rome’s Empire (London, 2017)
- Southern, Patricia, Hadrian’s Wall: Everyday Life on a Roman Frontier (Stroud, 2016)
- Wilmott, T, Birdoswald Roman Fort: 1800 Years on Hadrian’s Wall (Stroud, 2001)
Presenter: Josie Long
Producer: Katharine Kerr for Fresh Air
- Dr Andrew Roberts – Properties Historian, English Heritage
- Dr Frances McIntosh – Collections Curator for Hadrian’s Wall and North East, English Heritage
- Malcolm Redman – Owner of Bush Nook Guesthouse
- Denisa Comănescu – Poet
- Angela Stephenson – Historic Properties Steward, English Heritage
Visit Birdoswald Roman Fort in Cumbria to see the longest remaining stretch of Hadrian’ Wall, and explore the ruins of the Roman fort, turrets and milecastle.
Uncovering the Secrets of Hadrian’s Wall
The remains of Birdoswald Roman Fort have revealed more about Hadrian’s Wall than any other site along the Wall. Discover what some of the key finds tell us about the Romans and those who came after.
Death and burial rites at Birdoswald
A rare excavation of burial urns found at Birdoswald has allowed researchers to examine the remains of those who lived and died at the fort. Discover what the new research reveals.
Listen to more Speaking with Shadows
Explore more episodes of Speaking with Shadows, the podcast that listens to the people that history forgot.
History of Birdoswald
Explore Birdoswald through time and learn about the community who travelled across the empire and made the fort their home.
Shop: Walk the Wall
Explore Birdoswald’s historic landscape using our pocket-sized, waterproof guide. The two circular walks include maps, directions and points of interest.