IT’S easy for visitors to Hadrian’s Wall to lose themselves in the Roman world as they re-trace the footsteps of the centurions and explore the remains of their living quarters.
But a new book urges us to turn half a blind eye to the grand historic backdrop and focus instead on the living landscape.
Hadrian’s Wildlife by John Miles, whose past work includes Hadrian’s Birds, looks like the perfect companion for walkers and visitors to this part of Northumberland.
The book details the wildlife and flowers that can be seen throughout the changing seasons while surveying 2,000 years of history and nature.
In this way John, who as a wildlife consultant and tour leader is a walking embodiment of his book, adds snippets of human interest to the wealth of bird life he features.
There’s information, for instance, about which birds’ remains were found at various digs along the wall. You will also learn about the significance of the owl in Roman history, when it ceased to be a symbol of wisdom (as in Greek myth) and became one of evil.
The book starts in the west and moves east across the world heritage site, taking in the Solway estuary, Campfield Marsh reserve and Kielder.
There are chapters on the Hadrian’s kite project and kittiwake city. It concludes, after a piece about the great naturalist Thomas Bewick and a chapter entitled Down the Tyne, with suggestions for further reading.
Illustrated with drawings and a mix of black and white and colour photographs of flowers, fungi, butterflies and other insects, Hadrian’s Wildlife by John Miles is produced by Whittles Publishing at £16.99. Visit www.whittlespublishing. com to buy a copy.