Hadrian’s Wall

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Hadrian’s Wall was built in the years AD 122-30 by order of the Emperor Hadrian. It is a Roman frontier with 80 miles long and ran from Wallsend-in Tyne to Bowness on the Solway Firth, of what is now Northumberland in northern England.

It was built to prevent military raids on Roman Britain by the ancient inhabitants of Scotland (Pictish tribes), to improve economic stability and provide peaceful conditions in Britain.

In addition to its use as a military fortification, probably the gates through the wall would also have served as customs posts to allow trade taxation and a significant portion of the walls still exists.

UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1987, often known simply as the Roman Wall. It is considered the most popular tourist attraction in Northern England and the English Heritage, an important government organization describes it as “the most important monument built by the Romans in Britain”.

The width and height of Hadrian’s Wall dependent of the construction materials, available nearby, they measured between 2.4-6m wide and 3.5-6m high, and some parts of the central section of the wall still survive.

History

Hadrian’s Wall was built in AD 122 following a visit of Roman Emperor Hadrian, who was experiencing military difficulties in Roman Britain. In this way the construction of this impressive wall was probably also a symbol of Roman power, both in occupied Britain and in Rome.

Hadrian's Wall, NorthumberlandFrontiers in the early empire were largely based on natural features or fortified zones with a heavy military presence.

Hadrian expanded this idea, redesigning the German border by ordering a continuous timber palisade supported by forts behind it.

Although such defences would not have held back any concerted invasion effort, they did physically mark the edge of Roman territory and went some way to providing a degree of control over who crossed the border and where.

Hadrian reduced Roman military presence in the territory and concentrated on building a more solid linear fortification. Probably the construction finished within six years, extending from east to proceeded westwards, with soldiers from all three of the occupying Roman legions participating in the work.

The initial plan called for a ditch and wall with eighty small gated milecastle fortlets, one placed every Roman mile, holding a few dozen troops each, and pairs of evenly spaced intermediate turrets used for observation and signalling. Local limestone was used in the construction.

There are 81 milecastle forts along Hadrian’s Wall, which were also built from timber and earth rather than stone, supplemented by 160 manned turrets and 16 forts larger than the milecastles. Construction was divided into lengths of 8 km.

After Hadrian’s death in 138, Antoninus Pius the new emperor abandoned the wall and began building a new wall in Scotland proper, called the Antonine Wall.

He was unable to conquer the northern tribes, so when Marcus Aurelius became emperor he reoccupied Hadrian’s Wall as the main defensive barrier in 164, so the wall remained occupied by Roman troops until their withdrawal from Britain.

Some parts of the wall still survived in the eight century for spolia from it to find its way into the construction of Jarrow Priory. But in time the wall was abandoned and fell into ruin and around twentieth the stone was reused in other local buildings.