Dere StreetSunday 13th August 2000, Northumberland
WE TAKE THE HIGH ROAD home. Travelling from Yorkshire to Edinburgh, we prefer the Border country along the A68 to the A1, although the A1 has some attractive coastal sections.
A herd of Cheviot sheep ford a small river in pastures in the gorge south of Jedburgh, while a shepherd does his rounds on a little all-terrain vehicle, no bigger than a fairground dodgem car, his two border collies hitching a lift at the back of his seat.
Part of the A1 follows a Roman Road, Dere Street, across the hills north of Corbridge. As you negotiate the roller-coaster switchbacks you get glimpses of the dead straight road stretching for miles in front of you and miles behind.
In contrast to the straight roads and blocky fortresses of the Romans, the round house reconstructed at the Brigantium Archaeological centre, in Redesdale, is round, centred on the hearth. Although it is now almost two thousand years old, Dere Street still has something of the shock of the new, as our ancestors must have seen it, whereas the new reconstruction of the Brigantian round house already looks as if it has always been there.
My sketch is of a reconstruction of a Bronze Age roundhouse, from the Archaeological Park in Lille.
A few miles north of Scotch Corner we join the M1. On several occasions single Wood Pigeons fly across the carriageways, with an flight path in the shape of an inverted 'V', flying up over the central reservation then gliding down to the opposite side. The flourish in these flights suggests to me that they are intended as some kind of a display, rather than just a way of crossing the road.
Our journey south through Yorkshire, via the A1/M1 link takes us across all the 'SUNWAC' rivers; the Swale, Ure, Nidd, Wharfe, Aire and Calder.
Related LinkBrigantium is an archaeological reconstruction centre situated in Redesdale, Northumberland, adjacent to the Roman fort of Bremenium (High Rochester). It tells the story of the Roman occupation of the north from the native point of view.