Travel & Archaeology

Hadrian’s Wall

Unique and significant

Hadrian’s Wall is the finest surviving frontier work from the whole Roman Empire, and the only one to be built as a long stone wall. Its uniqueness and cultural significance are recognised by its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Begun in the year 122 AD on the orders of the Emperor Hadrian, it ran for 80 Roman miles from coast to coast across Northern England and was manned by troops for nearly 300 years.

Both physically and symbolically the wall defined the limits of the ‘civilised’ world ruled by Rome; behind it lay the Romanised province of Britannia, where Britain’s classical heritage was introduced; beyond it Britain’s Celtic heritage lived-on in  Pictland, now called Scotland.

Some of the most interesting aspects of modern research look at the cosmopolitan nature of frontier life, where Romans met Britons, and citizens met barbarians. New discoveries are being made all the time by ongoing archaeological excavations, with sites such as Vindolanda producing fascinating insights into life on the edge of the Roman Empire.

Recent management and investment in ‘Hadrian ‘s Wall Country’ is also ensuring a great visitor experience of both the cultural interest and natural beauty of this classic ancient monument and its landscape. Parts of the wall have been restored, footpaths have been improved and buildings have been reconstructed. At Wallsend fort a viewing tower gives a bird’s eye view of the site, while at the Roman Army Museum there is a stunning 3-D audio-visual. The many turrets, milecastles, forts and towns along the length of the wall provide plenty to see, and there are frequent special events with legionaries and Celts bringing history alive.

For more on Hadrian’s Wall read our Recommended Publications