About Mike Bishop

An archaeologist who walks, drives, cycles, flies, photographs, draws, writes about, and (once, in horizontal snow...) digs Hadrian's Wall, armed only with a trusty yet gleaming Creative Commons licence.

Linking to inscriptions in Clauss-Slaby

If you want to make a direct link to just one inscription in the magnificent Clauss-Slaby database, here’s a way to do it. I should point out I found this out ages ago (I know not where, sadly, so anonymous credit is due), lost it, then rediscovered it!

Tombstone of Classicianus

The information on the inscription is conveyed to the database in the format of

= corpus
B = year/volume
C = number

like this (note that the %20 is essential in each case to pass a ‘space’ character – you can’t have spaces in URLs).


Thus the diploma listing units discharged in Britain in AD 122, CIL XVI, 69 is


Alternatively,  let’s try the inscription to Iulius Classicianus from London, AE 1936, 3


All you need to do is form your URL in a text editor, copy it, and paste it into the address bar of your browser. You can even use a URL shortener on the resulting page for posting in Twitter.

Easy when you know how 😉


Hadrian’s Wall by R. H. Forster

Published in 1903 in his collection Idylls of the North, R. H. Forster‘s poem Hadrian’s Wall is typical of its time and probably exactly the sort of thing Edward Thomas disliked amongst Edwardian poetry (although, so far as I know, he never reviewed it). Nevertheless, it is what it is and at least has the virtue of having been written by somebody who had actually excavated on the Wall. Having performed it at the Late Shows 2016 several times (no small feat), I’ve grown rather fond of it and make no apology if it is not to your taste.


Hadrian’s Wall

Robert Henry Forster

Wave upon wave of tawny autumn moor, –
A sea of rolling upland, flecked and seamed
With here a crag, and here a monstrous stone,
Here a gaunt patch of heather, half in bloom
And half new-faded to a sickly white.
Yonder a blue lake edged with waving reeds,
Where wildfowl love to nestle, and the wind
Makes wistful music; by the western shore
A fringe of pine trees, – stems of ruddy brown,
Straight as a smoke-wreath on a windless morn,
Like pillars of a woodland shrine, upholding
A deep and solemn verdure. Over all
Lower the grey-pillared foreheads of the cliffs,
Hill ranked by hill, a marshalled battle-line
Of brother giants frozen into stone
Even in the onset; and upon their heads,
Wreathing those foreheads with a mural crown,
The wasted relics of an empire dead
Still brave the storm and sunshine, as they braved
The warrior-tempests of the ancient North.

A silent ruin on a silent waste,
Now rising to the tallness of a man,
Now lost beneath a natural mound of turf,
Like one whom time has laid in sepulture.
A silent ruin, silent to the sense,
But to the finer hearing of the heart
Still vocal: echoes of a life forgot,
Strange notes of far-off music here resound
Above the wind that whistles in the crags.
Some dying whisper of the alien tongue,
Which once spake sternness to a subject world,
Shall linger here, where erst it rang aloud,
Backed by the brazen trumpet notes of power.

Oh that some Muse would wander o’er the hills,
And voice the fainting echo! ’Tis a spot
Almost as quiet as those hidden dells
Amid the woodland heights of Helicon,
Where the Nine Sisters, when the world was young,
Sang to the music of Apollo’s lyre.
A lone bleak wilderness beside the charm
Of those enchanted uplands, like the brow
Of an old shepherd, weather-tanned and grey,
Beside the rosy softness of a girl:
Yet here is more than outward eye can see;
Here lurks the pathos of a buried past,
The glory of endeavour and success,
The bitterness of failure; joy has led
Triumphant revel o’er this sward of green,
And grief has swelled yon murmuring brook with tears,
And love has whispered yonder by the trees;
Here pleasure held her riot in the town,
A handsbreadth space from hunger: everywhere
Has life seethed manifold, everywhere has death
Claimed new a single victim, now a score,
Now the full hundred, and at last the whole.

Come, let us climb to yonder pointed hill,
Which, jutting out toward the naked North,
Captains its basalt fellows. East and west,
Northward and southward, all is pastoral peace,
Or sleepy marsh and moorland: the few sheep,
That nose among the rushes for a meal,
And yon grey heron, winging o’er the waste
To keep his fishing-vigil by the mere, –
These are the only visible things that live.
The few lone farms that speck the southward view,
Sparse as the ships upon a winter sea,
Seem almost relics of a younger past,
Less shattered, scarce less desolate and still.

But come, O Muse of Memory, and tread
With quickening feet this solitary waste;
Stretch out thine hand, and turn the wheel of time
Backward, yet backward to the misty dawn,
The infant years of Britain: bid the charm
Of solemn music breathe upon the moor;
And lo! as sweetness of Amphion’s lyre
Drew stones to rear the battled walls of Thebes,
Here shall a mightier fabric rearise,
Stretched o’er these summits like a monstrous snake
With scales of stone and, dorsal crest of spears.
See, how the moorland seethes again with life!
Hark, how the stillness iof the autumn air
Vibrates with all the myriad sounds of man!
The trumpet blows a warning from the tower;
The measured tramp and clang of weaponed men
Floats upward from the fortress, and the wheels
Creak harshly through the grey dusts of the road.
And yonder, where the little city basks
Behind the cosy shelter of the Wall,
A hum of many voices intermixed
Swells up, and seems to hover like the smoke,–
A murmur of the market and the street,
A snatch of song from one whose work is done,
The clamorous anger of a tavern brawl,
The shrill impeachments of disputing wives,
The noisy comments of a boyish game,
The plaint of children’s lightly wakened grief.

So lived and rung this shred of rugged moor
For some three hundred summers. Who can stand
On this hill-head, and see no more than hills,
Bare moorlands, marshy hollows, fit for sheep
And not for human minds to browse upon?
Nay, let us listen with the soul, and catch
Each moment some lost music of romance,
Some strain of wordless poetry to thrill
Hearts capable of feeling. Here the wind
Shall whistle out a stirring tale of war,
Of clamorous nights when blaze of beacon fires
Brought the grim Tungrians in the nick of time,
As painted thousands from the barbarous North
Came seething upward with a murderous roar
Against this gateway or yon lonely gap,
Or scaled the pillared basalt, thick as flies,
And slew the watch that slumbered in the tower.

Nor shall a strain of softer note be dumb;
For love-tales murmured in a score of tongues
Shall wake our fancy, claim our sympathy,
Or, it may happen, wet our eyes with tears.
Three hundred years, and twenty thousand men
Of twenty diverse races; – stolid folk
From the cold confines of the northern sea
Made neighbours here to some whose hotter blood
Could boil with passion of the amorous south.
Ten thousand common episodes of love,
But surely something greater, something strange,
Some love more fiery than the wonted flame,
Has left the embers of a tortured heart
To move our pity. Many a thrilling tale
Is whispered faintly by the waving grass,
Or muttered by the lapping of the mere:
And some have happy ending, like the calm
Of a pure sunset after hours of storm;
And some end softly with a gentle moan,
And some in blood and throes of tragic pain.

Here in this sunny hollow of the hills
Mayhap some crass Batavian long ago
Has dallied with a maiden of the south,
Toyed with her ebon tresses, sunned his soul
In the deep blaze of dark and passionate eyes;
And after, wearied by her fulsome worship,
Passed with a laugh and proffer of his purse,
And left her with strained eyes and parted lips,
Hands clenched, voice frozen, and a heart on fire, –
Passion of love transformed to passion of hate,–
And but one thought, one hope, one prayer, – revenge.
And soon another meeting in the dusk;
A torrent of reproaches, checked and changed
To soft persuasive blessing as of love,
Still strong though unrequited, and a prayer,
Timidly breathed, for one memorial kiss,
A clutch, a stab, – and so the story ends.

Even thus about a hundred lonely spots
Might Fancy weave the garland of her thoughts
To deck the graves of those who loved and died
A thousand years ago. These massive stones,
Which once upheld the iron-studded gate,
Mayhap could whisper of a summer night,
When some Delilah of the northern moors
Witched the lone sentry to her arms and death.
And here, where once a villa wooed the sun,
A British youth, made hostage for his clan,
Perchance has voiced the passion of his soul,
And pleaded for a Roman maiden’s love;
Or it may be that fury of assault
And lurid menace of devouring fire
Have here shot terror through a woman’s heart; –
A tribune’s daughter, haply, – till at last,
When death has all but gripped her by the throat,
A trumpet-note of rescue, and a man,
Who long has loved her with a bashful love,
And often prayed for such a chance as this,
Leaps with strong arms to hear her through the press,
And wins the homage of a grateful heart,
Which ripens to the harvestage of love.

Nor only love shall whisper out the tale
Of joy or sorrow. Here as everywhere,
Through every region of the Roman world,
Hangs the dusk cloud of slavery. The word
Is poignant in itself: what depths of woe,
What pangs of yearning, and what tales of shame
Are summed in those few letters! Aye, and here
The moan is surely more pathetic still,
Which rises from the captives who of late
Were free barbarians of the northern wilds,
And now are slaves almost in sight of home.

See yon slight figure of a growing boy,
Who longs to weep, but will not weep for pride,
And burns to curse, but dare not curse for fear.
’Tis but a month since in the flush of youth,
A chieftain’s son, he ruled his fellow boys,
And raced in sport across the summer hills,
Shouting with joy to feel the leaping blood
Of young existence and the dawn of strength,
Or plunged and splashed the river into foam,
Clomb forth and waged mock battles on the bank,
Till wind and sunshine dried his naked limbs
And kissed the water from his waving hair.

Or see this weary maiden, who must spin,
That he who slew her lover may he clad
Against the northern winter. Were e curse
In every tear she drops upon the wool,
Not Nessus’ robe were deadlier. But alas!
There is no venom mingled with her tears;
They only scald the fountains whence they rise,
And only mar the smoothness of the cheek
O’er which they chase each other as they fell.
And he, mayhap, her master and her shame,
This very while, luxuriously couched
Beside the seasoned dishes and the wine,
Revels and riots with his drunken friends,
And boasts of things he ought to tell with tears

A mist of weeping hangs about the moor;
A scent of blood steals upward from the grass,
And everywhere a savour as of death
Pervades these relics of a dying age.
Here at the climax of imperial power
This Wall was built; and here within the space
Of one man’s life that power began to die.
Like some death – stricken giant here it lay,
And writhed, and sobbed, and passed from fit to fit,
Now smitten unto semblance of the end,
Now rising with a paroxysm of life,
But never to the pitch of life that was.
Here came a night of pillage and of flame,
Of blood and ruin and barbaric hate,
When the red fury of the rebel north
Burst without warning like a summer storm
Upon the fortress and its slothful guards:
And here a day of vengeance and repair,
A building up of shattered tower and wall,
A cleansing of the rubbish-cumbered street,
But never to completion. Year by year
Worse follows better: year by year the work,
Of old so strong, so thorough, so immense,
Is patched and clouted with a feebler hand;
And all the arts and energies of life
(The stones bear record); wane to something worse,
Something less vigorous, something less exact.
The lamp is dying: ever and again
There leaps a flicker of its wonted flame,
But every flash is lower than the last,
And as it sinks it leaves more smoke behind.

So the smoke thickens and obscures the end, –
The latest and most lurid scene of all;
And dimly through the vapour and the mark
Appear vague shapes of agony and shame,
And shrieks of inarticulate distress
Ring out half stifled through the choking air.
Then darkness and the quietude of death
Succeed, and close the tragedy of Rome.


Driving Hadrian’s Wall: the Minor Car Parks XV (Denton Burn)

Denton Burn

Location: 54.982858, -1.686838 Facilities: LIBRARY, SHOPS

There is a small car park attached to Denton Burn library, accessible from the westbound carriageway of the A186 (West Road).


As ever, be aware that there are car thieves operating, as there are at all of the car parks along the Wall. Stout footwear is almost certainly unnecessary.

Denton Burn minor car park planZone 1 (100m)

Immediately next to the car park is a short length of curtain wall (1). Continuing eastwards towards the roundabout reveals the smallest of all the consolidated lengths of curtain wall (2) belonging to Hadrian’s Wall (on the forecourt of the petrol station).

Zone 2 (500m)

Heading west and using the pedestrian crossing to negotiate Broadwood Road ultimately leads to the length of curtain wall and turret (3) at Denton Hall.


Driving Hadrian’s Wall: the Minor Car Parks XIV (West Denton)

West Denton

Location: 54.984249, -1.697023 Facilities: none

As at Heddon-on-the-Wall, there is no actual formal car park of any size at West Denton. There is, however, a large sprawling estate where street parking is available for the couple of things you can see here.


As ever, be aware that there are car thieves operating, as there are at all of the car parks along the Wall. Stout footwear is almost certainly unnecessary.

West Denton parkingZone 1 (100m)

Much depends where you park as to how the monuments are zoned, so we’ll just assume you are within easy reach of your two main targets. Between the westbound carriageway of the A69, on the western side of the huge junction with the A1 western bypass, and the the road called The Ramparts (see what they did there?) there is a short length of curtain wall (1) visible on the verge. To the south of this, within the housing estate, running parallel with Wallington Drive, there is a large, open green area which is in fact a section of the Vallum (2); smoothed out by time (and agriculture), it is nevertheless instantly recognisable.

Driving Hadrian’s Wall: the Minor Car Parks XII (Rudchester)

Rudchester layby (NCC)

Location: 55.002342, -1.825248 Facilities: none

This small (unsurfaced) layby is situated on the south side of the B6318 Military Road immediately next to Rudchester fort and has room for about three cars.


As ever, be aware that there are car thieves operating, as there are at all of the car parks along the Wall. Stout footwear is advisable.

Rudchester minor car park mapZone 1 (100m)

Strictly speaking, you do not need to walk anywhere to see the humps and bumps of Rudchester fort – you are parked on it and can just look over the fence. Walking south down the side road (carefully as it is used as a rat-run) gives access to the Trail stile leading to the fort site itself. There is an information board next to the south-west corner of the fort.

Driving Hadrian’s Wall: the Minor Car Parks XI (East Wall Houses)

East Wall Houses layby (NCC)

Location: 55.010507, -1.933511 Facilities: none

This small (unsurfaced) layby is situated on the eastern side of the junction of the B6318 Military Road and a minor road leading to East Matfen. This one is mainly for fans of the ditch.


As ever, be aware that there are car thieves operating, as there are at all of the car parks along the Wall. Stout footwear is advisable.

East Wall Houses minor car park mapZone 1 (100m)

To the south, beyond the Military Road, the line of the Vallum can be made out, surviving as an upstanding (if slighted) earthwork. To the east, the Trail follows the substantial remains of the ditch (1), as indeed it does to the west (2).

Zone 2 (500m)

More ditch can be followed to the west (3), as well as to the east, with the opportunity to walk in it immediately to the west of the Robin Hood Inn (4).

Driving Hadrian’s Wall: the Minor Car Parks X (Carr Hill)

Carr Hill layby (NCC)

Location: 55.012836, -1.983096 Facilities: none

This large (unsurfaced) layby (with room for more than 10 cars) is situated opposite Carr Hill Farm and is often used by cars, lorries, and coaches.


As ever, be aware that there are car thieves operating, as there are at all of the car parks along the Wall. Stout footwear is advisable.

Carr Hill minor car park mapZone 1 (100m)

The line of the Wall ditch can just be made out over the hedge from the layby (1).

Zone 2 (500m)

The upstanding earthworks of the Vallum between Carr Hill and Down Hill (2) are clearly visible.

Zone 3 (1km)

One of the finest sections of the Vallum is immediately next to the Trail on the limestone outcrop of Down Hill (3).

Zone 4 (2km)

The determined can press on to inspect the humps and bumps that are all there is to be seen of Haltonchesters fort (4).