Hadrian's Wall, the frontier of Scotland

Roman Britain

Hadrian's Wall has come to represent the frontier between England and Scotland. Strangely enough, today it is well south of the political border between the countries. 90% of  the English county of Northumberland is north of the wall. However many of the border changes took place during the Middle Ages, and to most people Scotland still starts at the wall

hadrians wall Scotland England border

hadrians wall border country

Who built Hardens Wall

The Roman Emperor Hadrian came to Britain in AD 122. It is believed that he gave the order for the building of the wall as a frontier, demarcating the Roman south from the barbarian north.

There were already a line of forts following  a Roman road, Stanegate. Hadrian's walls followed this line, and was a wall., ditch and a series of forts, milecastles and turrets along its 74 mile length from the North Sea to the Irish Sea

Over the next six years legionaries, not slaves, built the wall.

Why Hardens Wall was built

Just to mark the northern frontier of Rome, seems to be the answer. A few years later the Romans tried to establish a frontier further north in the Scottish Lowlands with the Antonine Wall. However that expansion did not last long (AD 140 to AD163) and they were soon back at Hardens Wall.  Hardens Wall appears to have served its purpose as there is no record of any major battles along the wall

How was it built

The Romans started construction on the eastern end, and the wall was a stone wall 15 feet high, with a deep ditch to the north. and a further ditch to the south

A sophisticated system of strongholds and sentries ensured the whole wall was defensively secure. There were a number of large forts, which were main supply bases and crossing points. Between forts there was a milecastle every Roman mile, garrisoned by 8 soldiers, and between each milecastle, two turrets for sentries

West of Bowness a chain of forts and towers ran down the Cumbrian coast to protect the flank of the wall

The decline of the wall

By around 400 AD, the Roman Empire was in decline. Frontier defences were neglected and money stopped arriving from Rome. Eventually the Roman Army was withdrawn from Britain, and the wall abandoned. Eventually local people started using it as a stone quarry, and stone was carted off to make houses. However much still remains, particularly in the wilder central sections, where there was little population to remove stone

Hardens Wall is, of course now protected. Today, the best-preserved sections of wall are in a 20-mile section between Hexham and Haltwhistle in Northumberland. There you can see the run of the wall, forts, camps, turrets plus museums with relics of the Roman past

What can you find along the wall today

If you go to Hardens Wall today there is plenty to see, click the link for more detail of things to see on the ground today

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