Thursday, January 23rd, 2014...9:30 am

The Enduring Classical Tradition III

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Harvard University Houghton Library MS Eng XXXThese 14 leaves of manuscript notes record a week-long trip in July 1849 of a group of British antiquaries along a portion of Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland.  Hadrian’s Wall is a defensive fortification system, begun in 122 AD under the orders of the Emperor Hadrian, to mark the northernmost extent of the Roman empire, and stretches from roughly modern-day Newcastle to Carlisle.  These notes appear to be the work of the Newcastle surgeon Dennis Embleton (1810-1900).  Embleton records the names of his fellow “pilgrims,” mostly members of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle, several accompanied by their wives and children.  Embleton’s notes are interspersed with plans of the Wall as it existed then and with drawings of Roman inscriptions they encountered along the route from Segedunum at Wallsend (in Newcastle) to the Roman fort of Birdoswald, fifty miles further on.

Harvard University Houghton Library MS Eng XXX

 This diary reflects the continuing study of classical archaeology and may prove to be an important record of material that is now been lost or damaged in the almost 150 years since the summer trip.  This recent acquisition was acquired from Bogislav Winner Rare Books of London with the John Wadsworth Valentine, Class of 1929, Fund.

 [This post was contributed by William P. Stoneman, Curator of Early Books and Manuscripts]

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