Today, we went to the Barbican centre, that wonderful 50s construction of concrete and highwalks which warps time and space in a confusing and at times distressing manner. Because in the area of the Barbican, there are various pieces of the London city wall still visible. (For varying values of visible, as will be demonstrated.)
Barbican is part of the modern* City of London development, so it's surrounded by high-rise buildings, mostly office-blocks. And in amongst these are little wall-fragments. Really odd. There is also a "wall walk" route. As something of an experiment, we attempted to follow part of it. The first thing we found was a plaque declaring that the spot we were standing on was the location of Aldgate, which was a gate into Roman London, and that this was number 21 on our map. We dutifully looked up 21 on our map. The map believed 21 to be the Cripplegate Fort. It was mostly downhill from there on in.
We tried to follow the route. This involved, at various times, crossing busy roads with no pedestrian crossings, climbing through what really looked like people's private gardens, trying not to fall in an ornamental water feature in Barbican, and, finally, a bit of an encounter with a car park.
Some of it was locked up.
"There is some more of the wall beyond this gate, but as you see, we here in London like to keep our cultural heritage locked up in case it gets out and attacks someone. If you want to see it, tough. You can't. Not even if you try to use a credit card pushed through here to slip the lock, because it's double-locked. Not that I tried."
(Might be easier to climb over it? offers Stig, he of dancing-in-campfire fame. Probably, says Gustav, but I haven't got the bloody energy.)
Some of it was locked up and in a car park. This, I think, seriously made my day, in a "WTF" sort of way.
Number 18 on the trail was noted down as Fort Gatehouse. We reached the apparent location, and were faced with aforementioned car park. By the entrance, there was a plaque, of the same kind as the first one we saw. "Right," Gustav Milne tells us. "You're in the top five percent most intelligent people in this country, supposedly. Let's see if you lot can tell me where the bloody thing is."
Inside the car park, as it turns out. But not just inside the car park. Inside the car park, behind a door marked only as "private", which was also locked, in a room with no lights.
By this time, I was getting the feeling we'd somehow stumbled into Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
So yeah, if you managed to get in, and could actually see anything once you were in there, there was a nice information board, telling you all about the gatehouse. There were also signs saying Please keep off the wall, which were duely ignored, because "there's no CCTV and I doubt you lot can break it when a load of Saxons failed." And that was about it. There was a small 50s reconstruction model of the gatehouse. It had mushrooms growing on it.
...and that was my day. How was yours? XD
*when I say modern, remember that I'm an archaeologist.