When my friend Liz from the YSA group found out that I was interested in learning about local history, she jumped right into action and planned two fantastic adventures for us.
Bede’s World is located in an area called Jarrow, well outside of my typical stomping grounds, and would have entirely escaped my notice had it not been for Liz. I am ever so grateful that I didn’t miss this one, as it was super fun. Our friend Janet joined us, and the three of us had a grand old time.
The museum focuses on life during the time of the Venerable Bede, a monk, author, and scholar. He was one of the earliest English historians, and his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History of the People of England) is one of the most significant original sources on Anglo-Saxon history. We can also thank him for the confusion surrounding the date of Easter each year.
Outside, there were some houses representing those lived in by the Anglo-Saxons. I am more grateful than ever for modern technology like lightbulbs and glass windows. They sure seemed like dark and dusty places to live.
But of course, my favorite part was the farm. There were all sorts of animals, including some rare breed pigs that I absolutely fell in love with. We bought animal food so that we could feed the sheep and goats, and it absolutely made my day to see those sheep running across the pasture to greet us. Any day with animals is a great day indeed, so Bede’s World made an instant fan out of me.
Arbeia Roman Fort
The second adventure took us to South Sheilds, where we visited Arbeia Roman Fort. Arbeia was built to defend the main sea route to Hadrian’s Wall. The ruins were rediscovered and excavated in the 1870s, and several reconstructed buildings now show what it would have been like when the Romans were still around.
One disadvantage to time is the havoc it wreaks on things like interior decorating. Paint and pretty little details don’t usually last very long, so we tend to have this image of dreary and boring living spaces. One thing I really liked about the reconstructions at Arbeia were the colorful rooms in the barracks. The foot soldiers did have dreary and boring living spaces, but the officers quarters were full of color and character.
One of the things I miss most about England is how much history there is and how accessible it is for everyday adventures.
They just don’t make ’em like they used to.