28. Wyverns With Shields

@Carlisle, Cumbria, England.

During the journey from Leeds to Glasgow, there stood the city of Carlisle on an exit. It has a long history, most of it related to a first-century Roman outpost associated with Hadrian’s Wall, the first and more physically evident of the two fortifications built across Great Britain by the Roman Empire as ordered by Emperor Hadrin to keep the non-Romans, the northern tribes of the island out of the Roman occupied part of the island. The wall with no doubt, was the most heavily fortified border in the whole Empire as Rome had major setbacks in that area including the disappearance of Legio Nona Hispana or the Ninth Spanish Legion, which remains a mystery as there was no evidence found. The last clear information was about them helping to rebuild the legionary fortress at York and their disappearance has provided us with Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth which became a movie ‘The Eagle’ in 2011 and also ‘Centurion’ which tells the story from another perspective. Valerio Massimo Manfredi’s novel L’ultima legione was also made into the movie ‘The Last Legion’, and all these added to my viewpoint towards Carlisle as a city of history and mystery blended in a right pattern to invoke curiousity among the people who visit these places with a heart for knowledge.

Hadrian’s Wall might be the most important monument built by the Romans in Britain during their military occupation of the island. As it was not much of a settling down and more fiery invasions like the Anglo-Saxon conquest followed, there was not much of Roman tradition to be left. Even the Antonine Wall was not much to be seen. Rome’s movement towards being a global empire had already started before the Christian era and the eyes were set on the island during the times of Julius Caesar. From the times of Emperor Claudius, when Britain became a Roman province, the need for this wall was there, with so many tribes giving trouble to the disciplined Roman Legions in the north. This was to become worse when Rome faced barbarian attacks in Europe at many frontiers and had to retreat from the island. They left Britain Hadrian’s Wall, not much of a wall considering the development of technology which followed, but a wonderful remnant of the lagacy of the Roman Empire. It did not mark the end or the beginning of any empire, but it kept the Roman area south from the skirmishes from the north which were becoming too frequent to handle.

This World Heritage Site can be seen from many parts of the land, even as one travels through the area. It looks more like a part of nature, something which is built by the forces of nature, as it seemed to combine with the terrain at such a point as if it was grown from the Earth one day. With a few sheeps around, it makes a wonderful scene of nature, something which might inspire a nature poet from within. There are also what remains of the lookout towers and forts which were attached to the wall. The stories relating to the wall never ended; it was also shown in the movie ‘King Arthur’, when Artorius Castus and his cavalry men defend the wall against the Picts, another move towards the Arthurian legend. That movie stood with lot of historic inaccuracies, but Hadrian Wall remained the same in history, no matter how much it changed in physical structure due to the various factors of nature and man. Even after the withdrawal of the imperial Roman Legions and later after so much modernization, the wall still stands with the story of how magnificient it used to be; the saviour of Romans from the northern tribes as well as the helper of trade and commerce.

The 900 year old Carlisle Castle is also situated near the ruins of Hadrian’s Wall in the city. As it lies in the border city of Carlisle and it was such an important point between England and Scotland, it is supposed to have seen lots of wars and had been part of many important events in history. It has been part of England and Scotland until they became the same nation later. Carlisle Castle was first built during the reign of William II of England, the son of th Duke of Normandy, William the Conqueror who invaded and completely conquered England in 1066 starting the Norman rule and the influence of French on English literature. Mary, Queen of Scots who tried to claim for the throne of Queen Elizabeth I was also imprisoned in this castle before being tried and executed for treason. The castle was besieged by the Parliamentary forces for eight months during the English Civil War and later during the Jacobite revolutions to bring back James VII of Scotland and James II of England, and later his descendants of the House of Stuart, to the throne after he was deposed by the Parliament during the Glorious Revolution. The castle looks quite simple from a distance, but is a magnificient and well-maintained structure.

Carlisle Cathedral or The Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Carlisle is a beautiful church located quite close to the castle of Carlisle. It seemed to match with the castle in terms of colour and age, and also that beauty in simplicity. The church which was built during the reign of King Henry I as an Augustinian Priory, and is one of only four Augustinian churches in England to become a Cathedral. From the Dissolution of the Monasteries and the following ages, the church had a less glorious period until it was restored. It had ruined structures around it and also the fallen leaves, those yellow and a little brown ones seeming to give the feeling of some autumn and an upcoming winter. The Carlisle Cathedral described itself as ‘A place of discovery, celebration and beauty’ in the colourful leaflet they gave us; it also contained details of all the prayers which were to take place during Sundays and weekdays; there was some program going to happen, when we reached there too. The map in the leaflet was only slightly helpful as some renovation work was going on in the church. I did feel that the best view was from the outside with the fallen leaves and the stone paved road on the side.

There is the River Eden which runs through the city, but I could not take any more rivers after my visit to Lake District; enough of the water bodies were covered for the day. Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery was located between the Carlisle Cathedral and the castle. Even as I didn’t visit it at all, I was caught by the Coat of arms of Carlisle City Council which was outside the museum. It had the motto “Be Just and Fear Not”. It inspired me and gave me some courage which I lost in the cold there as the temperature had hit a lower point for me then and wind only got stronger with clouds wandering around. There was some time for me to stare at the emblem and it had two dragons or the legendary creatures of wyverns with golden roses on their wings, and a golden shield with a red cross surrounded by red roses and a golden rose inside it. Everything is placed on a gree mount with some small white cross signs on it and shield had a crown which looked like a fortified city; or more of a mural crown of Tyche, the Greek goddess deity that governed the fortune and prosperity of a city as well as it’s destiny. I was more interested in the dragons and the cross as well as the motto. As I had to wait a lot at that point between the castle and the cathedral with that emblem behind me, I was able to create an image of it not only in the camera, but also in the mind which has lasted even now.

Diving out —>