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Review – Hadrian’s Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier

Online course from Future Learn.

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/hadrians-wall

#FLHadrian #Romans #History

I’ve been looking at some more online history courses for a while, but as with most things it is finding both the time and the appropriate course.  I was introduced to Future Learn last year but this is the first course I’ve managed to find time to complete.

So why this course? I’ve studied Roman History before but not specifically Roman Britain. Hadrian’s Wall is one of the most famous and most studied frontier Roman settlements, in fact it is a World Heritage site. It stretches 73 miles in the North of England, some arguing to keep out the Picts and other ‘barbarians’ in what is now Scotland. It was so much more than just a wall – complex and well-manned forts, accompanying settlements, whether the natives liked it or not, and perhaps most importantly the introduction of writing into Britain.  The Romans brought much – religion, trade, Roman culture and laws, politics and soldiers and citizens from all over the Empire. Yet it was not all smooth running, there were uprisings, revolts, and ultimately abandonment by Rome.  40 years after the Wall was built a bloody uprising occurred. This and the Jewish Diaspora which occurred in the reign of Hadrian should be remembered. Violence and terror were among the tools the Romans used to rule. There were even revolts, breakaway emperors ruling for over a decade and much intrigue.

This course covers the period of Roman occupation and beyond; archaeology – including a CSI type murder mystery and the trials of preserving remains so old, the sociological and religious aspects; the coming of Christianity and of course a good helping of history, including how the Roman army change in the . Roman influence is all over Europe, even now, and still hold a lot of fascination. From AD 122 to about AD410 the wall was occupied, initially commissioned by the builder, scholar and Emperor Hadrian, who ruled 117 to 138 AD.  Of course Hadrian was not the first Emperor to covet the misty and mysterious Isles of Britain – Claudius invaded in AD 43.

So enough background – what are my thoughts on this course:

Subject matter: Very interesting and well handled. This is an introduction presented by professors and scholars, many from the University of Newcastle, it gives a good overall view of the era, the history and the challenges. Questions prompt the learning to consider the evidence and interaction with other online students is encouraged.

Time spent: It is stated as 4 hours a week – I’d say for the basics that is about right, although with all the other ‘suggested reading’ it would be a lot more. It depends really on how much time one spends on the discussion forums.

Teaching tools: Videos – useful and varied – I especially liked the re-enactment of the Roman banquet, the videos of the students involved discussing clothing, jewellery and the thoughts of the characters. However – the sound quality of a few of the vids wasn’t great. There was a lot of background hum and noise. Aside from this the videos were a key part of the course.

Reading: The information in the reading sections was not overwhelming – it was informative and thought-invoking but not overly difficult (at least for me).

Quizzes: A useful tool to test what had been learned.

The course was free, although the Certificate of Completion had a cost – if one wanted to purchase.

Summary: Interesting, well taught by knowledgeable staff and students, varied in its subjects and overall very enjoyable.  I would recommend for those interested in Roman History, British History, Archaeology and online learning.

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