Historic stretch of Hadrian’s Wall repaired

A stretch of Hadrian’s Wall, the famous fortification in northern England that for centuries marked the northernmost boundary of the Roman Empire, has been repaired.

After 2,000 years, parts of the fortification meant to keep out northern barbarians are in pretty bad shape. People have stolen stones over the past several centuries and you can see parts of the wall in local farmhouses and churches. Weathering and animals have done damage too.

Now Natural England has stepped in and reconstructed a stretch of the wall between Great Chesters and Housesteads Roman forts. Natural England is a government organization that protects and improves England’s natural environment and encourages people to enjoy and get involved in it.

Hiking along the wall is certainly a good way to do that. You can hike the entire length, 84 miles from sea to sea. Many of the forts along the way are open as museums, and you pass through some amazing countryside on the border of England and Scotland. I did this a couple of years ago and it’s a fun hike. Read more about hiking Hadrian’s Wall here.


Robert E. Lee’s sword to go on display at Appomattox

On 9 April 1865, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant met at Appomattox, Virginia, so that Lee could surrender his Army of Northern Virginia.

This momentous event effectively ended the American Civil War. With Lee and his army gone, the Confederate cause lost hope. General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered the Army of Tennessee on April 26, and in Louisiana General Kirby Smith surrendered his Trans-Mississippi Confederate forces on May 26. The last Confederate general to surrender was the Cherokee Brigadier General Stand Watie in the Indian Territory on June 23.

Now a new museum will open at Appomattox dedicated to the war and its conclusion. A centerpiece of the display will be Robert E. Lee’s golden ceremonial sword. Owned by the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, the sword will grace a branch museum it’s building at Appomattox. The museum is also building branches at the important Civil War sites of Fredericksburg and Hampton Roads. The Appomattox museum will open next spring.

The sword was the same worn by Lee during the surrender. Lee famously showed up in full dress uniform with his French-made golden sword at his side. Grant showed up unkempt and wearing a muddy uniform.

The sword has recently been restored with a new layer of gilt that has restored its original luster.

[Image of Robert E. Lee courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

Tod’s shoe company to restore Rome’s Colosseum

The Colosseum in Rome will get some much-needed repairs thanks to the sponsorship of Tod’s, an Italian luxury shoe manufacturer, the BBC reports.

The restoration will cost about 25 million euros ($34 million). The iconic gladiator arena is right next to a busy road in a polluted city, and a subway line runs close by. Many stones have shifted and require bracing, and the whole things needs a good wash.

Don’t expect to see a dramatic change soon, though. Restoration won’t even begin until the end of 2011 and will take two and a half years to complete. The Colosseum will remain open the entire time, although some parts will almost certainly have to be put off-limits on a temporary basis.

Many of Italy’s monuments are in a sad state of disrepair. The problem received international attention last year when several ancient structures collapsed in Pompeii.

[Photo courtesy user AlexSven via Gadling’s flickr pool]