- Welcome to Hadrian’s WallSalve ad Hadrianus Murus
Hadrian decree: "The Wall shall be rebuilt"
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. Approximately 15 feet high with a possible walkway and crenellations atop, the Wall was some 10 feet thick on the eastern stretches and later reduced to eight feet in width on the westernmost stretch. Some 15,000 well drilled and disciplined soldiers completed the Wall build. By today’s standards it would almost certainly take longer and would cost millions in terms of labour and materials. Modern safety procedures would have to be a priority too and, using the same men, would mean the logistics would be extremely stretched. Add in all other modern regulations and the project would simply never get off the ground. However, just short of two thousand years ago it was completely different...
Map of Hadrian’s Wall - click any red square to go to that fort page.
Wall and major Roman forts and roads are shown. Presumed roads are detailed as dotted lines.
The Stanegate is presumed to have started at Corbridge and run west to at least Vindolanda creating the first Roman defensive line in Britain although its initial purpose was that of a strategic road.
The line of the Wall is shown in red.
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 constructing and constantly repairing it? What was it used for? Was it simply a barrier to keep out the barbarians to the north? Was it a customs point? What did the Wall look like to those so-called barbarians and did they ever attack it? How many forts, milecastles and turrets lined its length from Segedunum in the east to Maia in the west? Who manned the Wall? What other defensive barriers aided the army along the Wall in its aim to protect this small part of the Empire? How did they supply the army?
Although we do have some spectacular sites along the Wall there are areas where virtually nothing remains unfortunately. Large areas remain to be excavated in years to come but this will be done with due consideration to the future of the Wall and local populations living around it. Future generations who may excavate with a far better understanding of the methods used to carry out research and one day, you, the visitor to this site may just make that personal trek to the monument if you have not already done so and, like me, may even be inspired to research its history in greater depth. Many wonderful memories can be made along its stretches and the views are often very spectacular... enjoy.
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...
(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)