There are numerous places of historical interest close to Lanercost and everybody will have their favourites. As a starting point for visitors to the area, we have put together a list of places you may want to visit in the local area. The sites range from the historic Hadrian’s Wall, a world famous UNESCO site, and ruined Roman forts to state of the art museums telling the story of Devils Porridge from World War I and aviation history dating back to World War II.
There really is something for everyone.
Hadrian's Wall and Forts
Hadrian’s Wall is a former defensive fortification of the Roman province of Britannia. Started in 122AD during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, it was built to guard the wild north-west frontier of the Roman Empire. The wall which runs from Wallsend in the East to Bowness-on-Solway in the West, was constructed from stone with large ditches on either side. Forts, milecastles and turrets were built along the length and housed garrisons of Roman soldiers.
A significant proportion of the Wall still stands today. It is the largest Roman archaeological feature in Britain. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, Hadrian’s Wall is one of Britain’s major ancient tourist attractions. The Hadrian’s Wall path follows the 73mile length of the Wall and can be followed on foot from coast-to-coast across the country with spectacular views of the rugged landscape.
There are several fascinating sites where you can explore the Wall’s rich history and discover the remains of the forts and turrets that kept a watch over the wall. Many of these sites, including Birdoswald Roman Fort and Housesteads Roman Fort are looked after by English Heritage. They include fabulous hands-on museums and Roman artefacts.
Vindolanda lies just south of Hadrian’s Wall. First built by the Roman Army before Hadrian’s Wall, Vindolana was an important construction and garrison base for the Wall. In total Vindolana was demolished and re-built nine times.
Today the Vindolanda site houses a modern museum that tells the Roman story. Excavation at the site is on-going with new artefacts being added to the museum annually. With excavations taking place between April and September the public can see archaeology in actions up close.
The site is cared for by the Vindolana Charitable Trust founded in 1970.
Roman Army Museum
Based at the site of Magna Roman Fort the Roman Army Museum is located close to one of the most complete sections of Hadrian’s Wall. The Museum tells the story of life as a roman soldier through galleries, 3D film and a holographic classroom. Amazing artefacts that help us understand what life was like as a Roman solider can be viewed as well as an eagle’s view of the landscape and Hadrian’s Wall through a thousand years of history.
The Roman Army Museum is looked after by the Vindolanda Charitable Trust.
Standing close to Hadrian’s Wall, Lanercost Priory is beautiful and imposing. The priory was founded by Robert de Vaux between 1169 to house Augustinian Cannons. This now tranquil site close beside the River Irthing in Lanercost was frequently attacked during the Anglo-Scottish wars. It remains however the best-preserved Cumbrian monastery and there is certainly plenty to see. The site is looked after by English Heritage.
Carlisle was the main fortress of England’s north-western border with Scotland for more than 500 years. The castle survived regular conflicts between the two countries enduring more sieges than any other place in the British Isles.
The castle has been continuously occupied since 1092, when it was founded by William II. It was the headquarters of the Border Regiment from the 18th century to the 1960s.
The castle has a fascinating and turbulent past. It was used as a prison for border reivers during the 15th and 16th centuries and housed Mary Queen of Scots at the start of her 19 year imprisonment before she was eventually beheaded in 1587.
Carlisle Castle is looked after today by English Heritage.
Solway Aviation Museum
Solway Aviation Museum is based at Carlisle Airport. The museum is home to aircraft, aviation artefacts and displays reflecting Britain’s position as a world leader in aircraft design and innovation at the dawn of the jet age. Aimed at preserving Britain’s aviation heritage, visitors to the museum can take a journey back to World War II and find out about the men and women of the RAF.
The museum is open at weekends from April to October and well as Friday’s on Bank Holidays.
Devils Porridge Museum
The Devil’s Porridge Museum at Eastriggs in Dumfries and Galloway tells the story of the HM Factory Gretna. Devil’s porridge (or cordite an explosive) was mixed at this factory which was the greatest munitions factory on earth in World War I. The factory employed 30,000 workers of which 12,000 were women.
This very popular attraction can get very busy during school holidays so you may wish to book in advance.