Thursday, July 15, 2010

Today is the first of our weekend field trips. We get on our bus and head out. The first stop is a hill fort that predates the arrival of the Romans. There is a raging debate in British archeology these days as to what was the state of pre-Roman British society and technology. The writings we have from the Romans say it was very primitive (barely iron age). However, the last 20 years or so of fieldwork are beginning to paint a picture of a more advanced society than what was previously believed.

Our first stop is one of these hill forts, in Stanwick. Today, it is nothing but a lumpy field. Our guest speaker can be barely heard above the howling wind. We walk out into the field to see one of the walls. Standing on the wall we are all nearly blow off into the accompanying ditch. We beat a hasty retreat to the bus.

The second stop is to a rebuilt wall. Very tall, not very interesting. Back to the bus.

The next stop is a Roman fort in Piercebridge. The modern hamlet of Piercebridge sits entirely inside the walls of the old fort, a very rare example of a fort that is still occupied in some way. We walk out to the foundations of a bridge that used to cross the river. They are huge. Those Romans sure knew how to build bridges. (Unfortunately they weren’t any better at controlling rivers than we are. The river moved and the bridge fell into disuse.)

Our last stop is a ruined medieval castle at Barnard. Seen one you’ve seen them all.
The trip is a disappointment but the sights we will be visiting on the others will be far more interesting.

Back at the house, nearly everyone takes a nap. We are all still pretty tired from the hard work of the first week.
After dinner some of us gather in the main house to watch the World Cup final. Some go out to The Varsity but it seems a good idea to stay out of the pubs tonight. I’m routing for the Dutch and am disappointed when Spain wins 1-0 in extra time. Well, its only soccer!
I go back to the room with the intension of getting some work done on the computer before turning in. I turn it on and nothing happens. Try again, same result. And again. And again. It is completely unresponsive. OMG. If it is dead it will be a complete disaster. I freak out. There is no way to do a power reset on this computer, as the battery is not removable.
I spend the rest of the evening locating the nearest Apple store (in Newcastle, about 45 minutes by train) figuring out how to get there, worrying about what I will lose if it can’t be prepared and stressing about the work time I will miss.
Before I turn in I notice a small light that is on all the time. If the machine were completely dead that light should not be on. I unplug it and leave it for the night.

About the images:
1. In the English countryside. A manor home and grounds.
2. The foundations of a Roman bridge over the rives Tees near the fort at Piercebridge.
3 & 4. View of the ruins of the medieval castle at Barnard.

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