The RemainsIlle restare

Wall at Walltown
Wall at Walltown

Today, Hadrian’s Wall intrigues a lot of people worldwide and attracts thousands of visitors each year. There are, of course, lots of areas where Hadrian’s Wall is not on view and remains under the surface of fields and even modern roads. But what there is to see in several areas of natural outstanding beauty are some magnificent stretches of the Wall and some very well preserved stretches at that. Even in places where there are no visible stone remains you can still make out where they lie under the surface or see where they once were although you probably need a trained eye to spot these areas. Along the way there are several milecastles and turrets to see but without doubt the crowd pullers are the forts and their surroundings. The most spectacular forts are the likes of Segedunum, Housesteads, Birdoswald and Chesters. However, there are other sites, equally as good, to see that are not attached to the Wall but which had a vital role to play in its history like: Corbridge, Vindolanda and Arbeia. The former two formed part of the Stanegate and Arbeia, on the east coast of England, was a huge supply base and is definitely worth a visit.

Some forts are still without major excavation and have very little to see but these are just as important to the history of the Wall as any other. In the future, when other generations excavate them, who knows what secrets they will reveal. One reason for the missing stone of the Wall in certain areas is thus: As part of a government order stone from Vindobala (Rudchester) and Onnum (Halton Chesters) and the Wall between was virtually all destroyed in the mid 1700’s during the Jacobite rebellion of 1745. The route, known as the Military Road was built following the rebellion when the condition of the road between Newcastle and Carlisle was so poor that it prevented General George Wade moving his troops west to stop Bonnie Prince Charlie’s march from Scotland. After the uprising was suppressed a new road was built and has been known since then as the Military Road or, less commonly, Wade’s Road.

Of the visible remains today you can see some of the best stretches around the central part of the Wall near Housesteads and along the west to Walltown. This is not to decry any other stretch by any means and I do not include forts here deliberately. Some parts survive to several feet in height and if you can manage the climb at Wall there is a particularly special stretch there with some wonderful views. In the eastern half there are still visible the actual workings where the soldiers would cut the rock in preparation to shape and fit the Wall. Some of this stone still has the tool marks plainly visible today. Along the same area you can plainly see the Vallum too. Far be it for me to single out any particular area all I can say is visit as much as you can in the time you have and maybe take a little time away from the forts just to see some magnificent Wall structures and, of course, ditches and the Vallum... plus some spectacular scenery. The rewards you can get from such areas are enormous and if you don’t particularly like being around crowds all the time then a visit to these other parts of the Wall will bring such enjoyment. Taking a flask will allow you to sit and enjoy the scenery with a cuppa... bliss!