Hadrian's Wall



Hadrianís wall stretches over 70 miles, from Wallsend on the River Tyne to the Solway Firth on the Cumbrian coast, following the natural escarpment of Whin Sill. It was built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, over a 6 year period following his visit to Britain in 122 CE, to impose order on local tribes.


Built of limestone and sandstone, where available, or clay rubble and turf, and despite pillaging of stone over the centuries much of it remains, thanks to the foresight of John Clayton who in 1834 started purchasing, excavating and restoring the sites, which eventually came under the National Trust and was declared a World Heritage Site. Large amounts of stone were removed by General Wadeís army in the 18th century, when they were building a causeway north during their campaign against the Scots.


The border was strengthened by the building of mile castles, which held a few troops, and signal stations which could contact the larger forts, housing up to a thousand auxiliary troops, in times of trouble. Up to 10,000 troops were used to guard the wall. A ditch and bank system also supported the forts running alongside the service road which followed the southern side of the wall to aid fast troop movement.


The idea had been first used by Domitian, who had built a wooden fence as a border in Germany, which Hadrian also strengthened and built supporting forts.


The wall did not prevent the movement of people through the gates provided, but was used to control movement and levy taxation on traders.


The wall was abandoned during the reign of Antonius Pius, who built the turf Antonine wall 100 miles to the north, but when the northern tribes were not subdued, Marcus Aurelius reversed the decision and withdrew back to Hadrianís wall.


Despite several attacks on the wall, which weakened it, the wall was in use right through to the Roman withdrawal in 410 CE, and was garrisoned for some time after by British troops.



Early 3rd Century Mithraeum, Carrawburgh




Headless Statue


The Wall at Housesteads





Britain Tour