Salve ad Hadrianus MurusWelcome to Hadrian’s Wall

Bust of Emperor Hadrian
Bust of Emperor Hadrian
Coin depicting Hadrian found at Vindolanda
Coin depicting Hadrian
found in the River Tyne
at Newcastle
Welcome to the new, completely re-written and updated, Hadrian’s Wall website. Many areas have been updated and modified to reflect new thinking and theories. Additions will be ongoing and comments or enquiries on the site are welcome using the link at the foot of the page. Thank you for visiting.

Hadrian’s Wall is undoubtedly one of Rome’s most outstanding militarial and architectural monuments ever built. Commissioned by the Emperor Hadrian, and begun in 122 AD, it took approximately six years to complete, used the soldiers from all three legions based in Britain at that time and was built in two gauges, narrow and broad. This was a stunning achievement. It took thousands of well drilled and disciplined soldiers to start and complete the Wall in its entirety. By today’s standards it would almost certainly take longer and would cost millions in terms of labour and materials (not to mention pay disputes and the likes!) even though the latter would be locally sourced as it would have been then. Safety in the modern era would be a priority too and to use the same quantity of men would mean the logistics would be stretched beyond anything we could begin to imagine. Add in all the other modern day regulations and the project would simply never get off the ground. However, just short of two thousand years ago it was completely different...

Unlike today, where a decision is made democratically in Europe by elected officials in each country if a major building project is to be proposed and built, Rome had but one master after rule ended with the Republic, the Emperor. It was basically down to the ruling Emperor of the day what major projects were granted and how grand or small they would be. Often the buildings would match the ego of the ruler but with Hadrian’s Wall it was slightly different. There was a given purpose to its conception, design and ultimate build. Three legions had to be taken from their forts around the country and relocated for the period of the build and could only be undertaken if there was relative quiet in Britannia.

So, what was Hadrian’s Wall and why was it built? Who were the soldiers that spent several years constructing and constantly repairing it? What was the Wall used for? Was it simply a barrier to keep out the barbarians to the north? What did the Wall look like to those so-called barbarians and did they ever attack it? How many forts lined its length and how many turrets and milecastles made up its entire course from Segedunum in the east to Maia in the west? Who manned the Wall throughout its lifetime? What other defensive barriers aided the army along the Wall in its aim to protect this small part of the Empire? As well as the forts along the Wall were there any others nearby that helped defend this critical barrier?

Although we do have some spectacular sites along the Wall there are areas where virtually nothing remains, though, through this site, as it expands, I hope to guide you through those remains and attempt to answer as many questions as possible you may have. The main aim of the site is to give everyone an insight into what the purpose of the Wall was, why it was built and what remains today. Who knows, it may even inspire some of you to visit this fabulous monument and leave with some wonderful memories.

For all the efficiency of recording just about everything they could the Romans didn’t seem to think too much of a defensive wall and thus far only one written testament to its construction exists...

(Hadrianus) murumque per octoginta milia passuum primus duxit, qui barbaros Romanosque divideret.
(Hadrian) was the first to build a wall, eighty miles long, to seperate the Romans from the barbarians.
(Scriptores Historiae Augustae, Vita Hadriani, 11 2)