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History invades at Hadrian's Wall; Turbulent past relived on a huge scale.

Byline: Neil McKay

ROMAN chariots, equestrian displays and Viking long boats all descended on Corbridge, Northumberland, on Saturday night take an appreciative audience on a journey back in time.

The Living History Pageant featuring a cast of 500 was the culmination of a week of celebrating the turbulent history of Hadrian's Wall.

Earlier, Vikings had invaded Arbeia in South Shields and Segedunum in Wallsend, Border Reivers staged a raid on Birdoswald near Brampton in Cumbria and visitors were transported back to the English Civil War at Carlisle Castle.

A full Roman century (80 soldiers) were stationed on Hadrian's Wall for the first time in over 1600 years.

There was also Roman re-enactments at the English Heritage properties of Chesters Roman Fort, Vindolanda, Senhouse Roman Museum and the Roman

Army Museum. Dramatic re-enactments brought the frontier story to life all along the Wall, with a living cast of hundreds of Romans, Border Reivers, Vikings, and Civil War troopers.

Visitors to the Living History Pageant at Tynedale Rugby Ground in Corbridge bore witness to two battles, a wedding and a funeral in this evening performance of historical re-enactment, drama, music and technical wizardry.

The cast of 500 re-enactors, performers, musicians and choirs provided of the biggest open air performances ever seen along Hadrian's Wall including a Viking funeral with the biggest longboat burning seen in England for over a thousand years.

The events were led by Hadrian's Wall Heritage Ltd.

Last week Hadrian's Wall Heritage Ltd had asked construction company Carillion to produce a rough estimate of the cost of building a new wall from North Tyneside to Bowness-on-Solway.

The quote produced was based on building a new wall 15 feet high and 10 feet wide from the existing ground level.

Carillon said they believed building a new wall would take nearly four million tonnes of material and the total cost would be in the order of pounds 300m to pounds 400m.

A Carillion spokesperson said: "Obtaining planning permission and getting the necessary finance would be challenging."

THOUSANDS of visitors to a Northumberland Roman fort at the weekend could be forgiven for smelling a rat.

People who turned up at Housesteads fort on Hadrian's Wall were confronted with a laboratory set up by Bio Organism Substrate Industries which claimed to have devised a technique for extracting odour molecules from archaeological finds .

The company, promoting its Hydroma range of historical odours, invited people to experience the whiff of history, including the essence of Roman sandals found at Vindolanda fort, a centurion's helmet, ancient Irish stew extracted from molecules in a Celtic pot, and an ancient Greek grandmother.

Visitors were then asked to agree to having a swab taken from which the company could extract the individual's personal smell.

They were invited to sign a disclaimer allowing their smell to be used in the company's commercial odour database.

If they agreed the visitors were later given a phial of coloured, smelling liquid which they were told was the essence of their unique aroma.

Around 1,000 phials were given out to visitors to take away.

A website informed people the company to date had isolated over 3,000 smell compound molecules needed to re-create the whiff of rubber, warm leatherette, fresh bread, newly-ironed sheets, children (washed and unwashed), cricket balls, dogs (wet), dogs (dry), and steaming pavements.

But it was all a spoof by the Bureau of Silly Ideas theatre group - with some visitors catching on more quickly than others.

The group's Brian Thunder, who played the part of company founder Dr Sydney Rann, said: "We have had a fantastic few days and it has been great fun.

"There are some people who believed it, some who went away with a doubt in their mind and many who cottoned on but played along ." SMELLING A RAT


BATTLE CRY One of a cast of 500 involved in the Pageant. GETTING INTO CHARACTER An invasion is as part of the Living History Pagean
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 1, 2009
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