Newcastle – Segedunum

October 16, 2008 at 8:52 pm | Posted in General, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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A brief 20 minute metro tip from Newcastle’s city center is Wallsend. Funnily enough this is where Hadrian’s Wall ended and at this terminus there is the ruined Roman Fort Segedunum, which has been progressively excavated. Of course when I say ruined I actually mean a rough outline of where the buildings used to be with the odd surviving mortar and stone dotted around the site.

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Entry is £3.90 but you could probably enter unnoticed via the excavation pits but why would you do that when the price is so cheap? The information centre looks like an airport terminal with its viewing platform overlooking the site.

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The museum while child focussed has enough material to keep an adult’s attention. If not you can always play the games!

The site is located near a shipyard and the area’s modern industrial past explains why so little of its Roman heritage remains.

Across the road is another smaller excavation site that features part of Hadrian’s Wall.

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No that big wall isn’t it. The barely visible strip on the right are the wall’s remains. Uninspiring. The staff helpfully apologise and explain that the former coal mine destroyed the wall. The reconstruction on the left does help a little. If you want to see the real wall from Newcastle you’ll need to take a day trip.

The other part of the site is a reconstruction of the Roman Fort’s Bath House. It’s opened on the hour for 20 minutes so you’ll need to plan your visit accordingly. I assumed that if it was only open for a short period it must be at least partially operational but this wasn’t the case – except for a little bit of water. Still it was good to get an idea of the bath’s layout and operation. Still I think a trip to Bath might be a better option.

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Segedunum, which sounds a bit mantric the more times and faster you say it, is fine and interesting for those with a limited knowledge of the Romans but it does help to provide some contrast to the rest of the city.

Edinburgh – The Palace of Holyrood House and the Queens Gallery

September 22, 2008 at 8:59 pm | Posted in General, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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The home of the Queen in Edinburgh – The Palace of Holyrood House – does not disappoint. While the area accessible to tourists is more vintage it is still an interesting peak inside the monarchy and Scotland.

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Entry price (£9.80) includes an audio guide – essential given the lack of information boards. The palace is fascinating and takes about 90 minutes including the gardens and ruined abbey.

in the palace you basically go on a loop of the second floor starting in the dining room and ending in Queen Mary’s bedroom (shown to tourists for generations). The Queen’s bedroom is notable for the death of one of her suitors/advisors – Rizzio. The guide even points to the blood stain on the floor!

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Outside the palace you’ll be able to visit the ruined abbey. After the roof collapsed it was left abandoned. Somewhat odd given that the palace is and city is still inhabited. Nonetheless the result is a cool and picturesque and ambient landmark.

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Beyond the Abbey are the gardens but it only take a few minutes to walk around the publicly accessible areas.

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You’ll also have the opportunity to visit the Queens Gallery (an extra £5- including audio guide). The gallery has changing exhibits, during my visit it was showing some Italian Renaissance drawings. It was fine – not great – but I blame my lack of artistic knowledge.

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Overall, the palace should be on your list of places to visit in Edinburgh and is quite the contrast to Buckingham Palace.

More photos on Flickr.

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