A FESTIVAL of learning was held at The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre.

U3A (University of the Third Age) is a nationwide network of learning groups aimed at encouraging older people to share their skills and interests.

It is a collection of more than 1,000 charities providing the opportunity to learn from each other for fun.

Almost two thousand years of history were celebrated when members from across the UK descended on Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site for Off The Wall festival on May 10.

Hexham Courant: U3A members preparing to cycle to Hadrian's Wall from The SillU3A members preparing to cycle to Hadrian's Wall from The Sill (Image: U3A)

The local U3A, Tynedale U3A, led members on a walk from The Sill to Sycamore Gap, looking at the geology and history on the way.

The event, organised by the U3A's national body the Third Age Trust, included talks about the Roman Wall, tours of Vindolanda and fringe activities.

Members participated in charcoal landscape drawing, cycling, play reading, and learnt about Roman food and the Northumbrian Pipes.

Hexham Courant: Tynedale U3A members led a geology walk to Sycamore GapTynedale U3A members led a geology walk to Sycamore Gap (Image: Tynedale U3A)

There were talks by academics including Dr Rob Collins, Dr Andrew Birley and Dr Tony Wilmott, who have spent their entire careers studying Hadrian’s Wall and the area surrounding it and were delighted to pass on their knowledge to U3A members.  

Ann Keating, from Edinburgh U3A, helped organise Off the Wall. She said: “Hadrian’s Wall resonates with people because, through the ages, it has inspired them to write plays, stories, poetry and make art. These are all things that our members can take part in around the country with U3A.  

"The history and the archaeology at The Sill is fascinating – and we have many interest groups dedicated to the subjects at U3A which is why so many members were keen to take part in Off the Wall. People realise the strength of the Roman Empire, what the Romans did, and the power they had. The Roman influence on our culture was quite dramatic. 

“Last year marked the 1,900th anniversary of the wall being built, and that sparked the idea for Off the Wall and led to a fantastic festival of learning and creativity.

"It was a wonderful event," she added.

Tynedale U3A is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2023, and it was the first U3A to exist in the North-east.

Find out more at www.u3asites.org.uk/Tynedale.