Tag Archives: Emperor Hadrian

A Brief History of Some Walls: Hadrian Wall


This week in the series  A Brief History of Some Walls in History  we journey to a wall which is very popular with visitors in England, contributing  much to the economy of  the Northern Districts:The Hadrian Wall.

The wall travelling 73 miles [80 Roman miles] through Carlisle, Newcastle, Northumbria and Cumbria, is the most elaborate Northern most defence frontier of the Roman Empire in the UK. In 1987, The Hadrian Wall received World Heritage status from UNESCO because of its relevance as a reminder of Roman military practise in Britain. According to John J. Wilkes, historians at first doubted  the emperor who constructed the wall, thus it was known as the Roman Wall or the Picts Wall [the Picts attacked around the time the Romans rule ended]. At the beginning of the quarter of the century, excavations dubbed Emperor Publius Aelius Hadrianus as the builder, he ruled from (117-138 AD). Guy de la Bédoyère notes that the wall became more an Aelius Wall in 2003, when a metal detector user found a bronze small enamelled vessel, in the West Midlands. The cup, though not the first Roman souvenir of the area provides evidence for a Hadrian wall because of its inscriptions.

The Hadrian Wall constructed from AD 120 to 130 AD was ten feet, made of stone in the west but composed of turf in the east. Some authors believe the use of white paint on both sides of the grey stone wall, was the Roman way of the wall standing out to show the power and dominance of the imperial empire. Workers built a ditch along the Northern face of the wall and forts occupied the length of the wall. Every Roman mile,  the men built castles along the wall known as milecastles. The Vallum [later called by that name] was a ditch and mound system which served as an earthen frontier to the south of the wall. Different weather patterns and constant repairs to finished and unfinished parts of the wall, kept the army very busy on the frontier. According to Guy de la Bédoyère, the materials for the wall were free but the  Emperor paid his soldiers.

Read the rest of this entry