What Is Hadrian’s Wall? Where and Why Was It Built?
What Is Hadrian’s Wall? Where and Why Was It Built? Hadrian’s Wall is a barrier which was built on the northern frontier of Roman Britain to keep out the Pictish tribes, who were constantly raiding across the border. The wall was begun at the orders of the Emperor Hadrian in AD 122.
It stretched from the banks of the River Tyne near the North Sea to the Solway Firth on the Irish Sea, a distance of about 117.5 km (73 miles). It incorporated an elaborate system of forts and proved an effective defense. The wall was, however, finally abandoned about AD 383. A significant portion of the wall still stands and can be followed on foot along the adjoining Hadrian’s Wall Path.
The largest Roman archaeological feature in Britain, northern England. Regarded as a British cultural icon, Hadrian’s Wall is one of Britain’s major ancient tourist attractions. It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. In comparison, the Antonine Wall, thought by some to be based on Hadrian’s wall (the Gillam hypothesis), was not declared a World Heritage site until 2008.
It had a stone base and a stone wall. There were milecastles with two turrets in between. There was a fort about every five Roman miles. From north to south, the wall comprised a ditch, wall, military way and vallum, another ditch with adjoining mounds. It is thought the milecastles were staffed with static garrisons, whereas the forts had fighting garrisons of infantry and cavalry. In addition to the wall’s defensive military role, its gates may have been customs posts.
You can see what remains of the ancient settlements and forts walking the Hadrian’s Wall Path. Along the way you’ll discover fascinating border towns and villages, such as the picturesque market town of Brampton.
It is a common misconception that Hadrian’s Wall marks the boundary between England and Scotland. In fact Hadrian’s Wall lies entirely within England and has never formed the Anglo-Scottish border. While it is less than 0.6 mi (1.0 km) south of the border with Scotland in the west at Bowness-on-Solway, in the east at Wallsend it is as much as 68 miles (109 km) away.