Hadrian’s Wall, England

Roman Hillfort and Hadrian's Wall path in Northumberland, England

Hadrian’s Wall. Photo by Nick.

Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland, a little history…

Housesteads Castle on the south side of Hadrian's Wall, England

Housesteads Castle on the south side of the wall. Photo by Mediatus

Built by Roman emperor Hadrian to keep the the Scottish hordes out of north England in AD 122(specifically the Picts), this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This massive work was constructed partly of earth and turf but mostly out of local of stone and measured – at the time – approximately 3m (9 feet) wide, 5m high (25 feet) and 117kms (73 miles) long. It was not located precisely on the English/Scottish border, rather slightly to the south where natural formations aided the defence works.

Little and large forts manned by Roman soldiers were also constructed along the wall’s entire length, often every mile as in the photo above, making this border the most heavily fortified stretch of the entire Roman Empire.

Toilets in a fort on Hadrian's Wall, England

Rebuilt ruins of a sophisticated Roman fort – Housesteads Castle – showing their toilet system.

After Hadrian died the new emperor, Antoninus, decided that Rome needed a wall further into the barbarian lands so had a shorter turf wall – the Antonine Wall – constructed about 100 miles (160kms) north; it was 40 miles long and studded with forts, but didn’t help in controlling the wild tribes and was abandoned by the next emperor, Marcus Aurelius, who refortified Hadrian’s Wall.

Over the years since the Romans left Britain(about 400 AD) many of the stones have been taken to build local housing but there is still enough of the Roman Wall – especially the central section – left to impress and guide walkers through the bleak and rolling landscapes of far north England. The Scots are less warlike and more welcoming these days so this is a must see if you’re driving through England to Scotland.

Visiting the Wall

The wall runs 84 miles from Wallsend on the east coast to Solway Firth in the west but can be easily tracked from the A69 road which winds from Newcastle to Carlisle.

The best section of Hadrian’s Wall is probably the 22 miles (35kms) of reasonably well-preserved wall between the forts of Chesters and Birdoswald, with panoramic views, plenty of bleak and blasted scenery and convenient accommodation at both forts for a relaxed two day hike.

Hadrian's Wall Sycamore Gap, England, UK

The Sycamore Gap, also known as the Robin Hood Tree after featuring in a film, ‘Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. This is one of the more recognisable spots along the wall.
Photo by Tomorrow Never Knows