William Hutton Walks the Wall: Day Nine



Drawing towards the evening, and this village, I asked an old woman, “if she knew where I could lodge?”

“Yes, I will take you to a house where the people are clean, honest, and civil.”

Upon asking for a bed?

“No; Do *you* think I will turn out my constant customers for you!”

I applied to a second, and received a second “No.”

I was directed to a third; saw only the landlady, a fine figure, well dressed, had been a beauty, and yet shewed as much of that valuable commodity as could be expected from forty-five.

“Madam, can you favour me with a bed?”

She surveyed me with a small degree of surprize –– “No!”

I took a seat.

“I will pay whatever you desire.”

“I could spare one; but it will not suit me.”

“I have tried to procure one, but am unable. Pray, Madam, indulge me, it is drawing towards nine. –– Do not suffer me to lie in the street.”

“You are a stranger to me!”

“So I am to every one else. If I must not sleep till I am known, I must walk one hundred and fifty miles for a bed.”

“What! are you on foot?”

“Yes; but, if I am, I have not the appearance of a common tramper; neither would a horse be of use, except he could mount precipices, and climb over stone walls. Pray, Madam, favour me.”

“I am a single woman; and, to take in a stranger, may give rise to reflection.”

“Did you ever hear of a woman losing her character by a man of seventy-eight!” (I thought I perceived, pass through her mind, a small ray of pity.)

“I do not keep a public-house.”

“I ask pardon, Madam; I applied, because I saw a sign over the door.”

“It has been a public-house; and the sign was forgot to be taken down.” — I retreated.

We met a short time after, when a slight civility passed between us.

A week elapsed, when, dining at a public table in Carlisle, I mentioned this singular adventure. The whole company, in a moment, recognized the person I alluded to, and told me, “She had long been connected with the Duke of ––; had issue by him of some standing, who were training for genteel life, whom he allowed her to visit once a year. That whenever he came into those parts, he chose to see her, and that she bore an amiable character.” I therefore think she acted perfectly right in refusing admittance.

I afterwards procured a bed, fell a prey to the dancing gentry of the night, and the next morning, turned and shook my shirt, being unwilling to carry off any thing but my own.

The place where this Station was, is easily found; but no marks remain, not even that roughness in the ground which distinguishes every other.

Agricola and Hadrian totally disappear; and all that can be seen of Severus is his ditch, which is nearly obliterated, about two hundred yards long, part of which is a bye lane, and part by the hedge, in the inclosure, fourteen yards wide, and four feet deep: both point to the Station, and down the precipice, fifty feet high, to the river.

I observed a stone in the street, converted into a horse-block, three steps high, with the figure of a man, in a recess, eighteen inches in height, in a Roman dress, and in great preservation. I wonder the boys had not pelted him out of the world. I inquired its history of some elderly people; but all I could learn was, “It stood there before my time.” I believe it to be a Roman Chief.

The Wall then proceeds from this elevated Station down the precipice, where it crosses the river Eden, to Carlisle; and makes a remarkable bend to the right, evidently to cross at the narrowest part, and to include the city, which was a place of consequence in the time of the Britons. There are but two places of magnitude in the whole line of the Wall, Newcastle, and Carlisle, and it makes a turn to grasp in both.

Stanwix is but about four hundred yards East of this city; and that space consists of meadow and water; perhaps, in a flood, all water.

The Wall points very near the North foot of the Castle-hill, keeping the Eden on the right, all the way to the sea.

While in the desolate, the rocky, the mountainous regions, I enjoyed the pleasing curiosities of the Wall, the banks; the Stations, &c.; but, now I am travelling in the beautiful and cultivated parts, I am travelling without my friends. I search, but cannot find them.

Camden, and Warburton, “thought the river formerly ran near the Castle, at Carlisle, and had changed its course since the time of the Romans;” but give no reason. From a survey of the ground, I think it has not.

At Kirkanders, I saw a precipice, along which the Wall had run, and where it did not need a trench. One hundred yards within the Wall, I saw, running through a corn-field, the faint remains of Agricola, and Hadrian’s works. Some little may also be seen near Wormanby, and at Beaumont.