How to Say Hello: Being Connected Along the Frontiers of the Roman Empire

How to Say Hello: Being Connected Along the Frontiers of the Roman Empire

John Scott – Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site Management Plan Coordinator

First, a Big Thank You

I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone, and I never thought I’d say this, a thank you for not visiting Hadrian’s Wall at this critical time for us all.

I’m saying thank you because I know through all the messages how much not being able to come to this area that you love and that has such a connection to so many people, that you’ve visited year after year, means and how much of a sacrifice that has been. However, we all should continue to follow the advice set down by our respective Health authorities as the stronger we are now the sooner we can welcome you back, supporting the businesses, large and small, right across the World Heritage Site that are finding these times very challenging but are doing what’s necessary to keep us all safe.

Hello, is it Rome you're looking for?  

Before the world took its current turn I was talking to Patricia Weeks, who’s the Coordinator for the Antonine Wall, in fact I’m hoping to get her to write something for here so you can all meet her and see the work they do at Historic Scotland. I have to say, it’s incredibly useful to have such close links with our World Heritage Partners. Given we all work within different organisational systems and governmental structures, the opportunities and challenges are surprisingly, sometimes reassuringly similar. This close working relationship is especially important for the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site (FRE), as the actual World Heritage Site recognised by UNESCO is far bigger than just Hadrian’s Wall. We are but one of the three currently inscribed sections (the German Limes and the Antonine Wall being the others).  Therefore, the need to work together and bring management practice closer, or as close as the different systems in each country allow, is essential. 

We will no doubt look at the FRE in closer detail at some time soon, it’s a fascinating story of an idea turning into an international ambition, but It might be useful to start with the numbers and statistics of this idea. The entire frontiers of the 2nd Century roman empire add up to approximately 6000km, it’s a long way, a very big site but there’s huge enthusiasm to make the concept of the frontier work. Groups of people in countries along its length are working hard and attending numerous long meeting to make it work, its powerful stuff, after all what other site can unite so many individuals and communities?

Oh I promised numbers, How far have we got? Well taking official figures, the Antonine Wall is 60km long, we are 118km and the German section is 550km so that adds up to 728km. a bit of distance to go yet to reach the 6000km! We are roughly 16% of the currently inscribe site. 

So back to the meeting with Patricia. We briefly spoke about language (we both want to improve our German for a start) and I wondered what it would be like to not only walk Hadrian’s Wall National Trail Path, but what about the whole of the frontier from the Antonine Wall to the shores of Morocco. 2000 years ago you could have done this and moved from one province to another getting by with the empires universal lingo of Latin. But what about today?

Maybe a useful handy guide was required to say at least saying ‘Hi’ in case any of you had plans to do this trip when the restrictions are removed and we return to normal, but for now we can daydream. So let’s start in Scotland;

• Scotland - hello will probably do but you could try a Gallic Halo’

• England – Hello? Though there are many others, ‘Aye Up’ where I come from

• The Netherlands – Hallo

• Germany – Guten Tag

• Austria – Gruss Got, this will also get you by in Bavaria

• Slovakia – Ahoj

• Hungry – Szervusz or even Szia if you want to casual

• Bosnia – Herzegovina – Dubar Dan

• Croatia & Serbia – you can use Zdravo

• Romania – Alo

• Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Eygpt & Lybia – all share Marhaba

• Tunisia – Aaslemma

• Algeria – Salam but also French is widely used so perhaps a little Bonjour here and there

• Morocco – Ssalamu Lekum or simply Alu

Now I’m sure I’ve not got all those spot on, I checked multiple sources on the web but nothing beats personal knowledge. If anyone can help ‘finesse’ this list please let me know and I’m glad there’s no sound on this blog as I’m sure that my pronunciation and accent is far from correct.

One thing it does show though is the number of people and nations involved in this project, people living, working and enjoying this amazing shared heritage given to us by the Roman Empire all those millennia ago. Whether you consider your heritage to have been inside or outside this 6000km line circling the Mediterranean, you cannot deny it’s had a massive impact on nations, identity and the people it touches, and in the guise of a World Heritage will continue to now be a force to unite people of different cultures around a shared point in Heritage. So perhaps rather than look across the wall we should really look along it and see who we are sharing it with, now If that’s not what the 1972 World Heritage Convention said its vision was, I’m not sure what is! 

"Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed".

1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage

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