Interesting Facts about Hadrian’s Wall

Located in Northern England and not very far from the Scotland border is Hadrian’s Wall. Also called Roman Wall or Picts Wall, Hadrian’s Wall is one of the major tourist attractions of England. Hadrian’s Wall stretches from Bowness i the West Coast to Wallsend in the East Coast. It was constructed during the rule of and named after a Roman Emperor – Publius Aelius Hadrianus Augustus. Considered to be as one of the five noble and good Roman Emperors, Emperor Hadrian was very impressed by Greek culture and decided to make Athens – the capital of the Roman Empire.

The construction of the 73 miles long Hadrian’s Wall commenced in 122 CE and was completed in 128 CE. It took 6 years to build the wall which was assumed to protect the Roman Britain, although the real reason is yet to be ascertained. However, it is assumed that one of the real purposes of building Hadrian’s Wall was to curb smuggling and put a check on immigration and customs. And for this, several checkpoints were erected along the wall. These checkpoints were initially manned by legionaries, whose main responsibilities were to keep a check on the flow of people and goods leaving and entering the region, and to collect taxes. Later on, these legionaries were replaced by guards appointed from the local population itself.

A total of 80 fortlets or milecastles were erected along the Hadrian’s Wall. These fortlets were placed after every Roman mile. The purpose of building these fortlets was to accommodate as many as a dozen troops each. Additionally, 16 forts were also built along the wall. And these forts could house a capacity of 800 soldiers, and contained a hospital, bakery, prison, and stable. Timber and earth were used for the construction of these fortlets. Each milecastle also differed in their appearance as they were built by different legions. Extending the length of the Wall were turrets that were constructed between milecastles. From the turrets, 4 troops could keep a watch on the external and internal movements.

The Hadrian’s Wall was built in two phases. This Wall was built by legionaries from the 2nd, 6th, and 20th legions. Square stones were used to construct the eastern part of the Wall which is located on the banks of River Irthing. Turf was used to build the western side of the Wall and to hasten the building process. The eastern Wall measured 9.8 feet in width and was 16 to 20 feet high whereas the western Wall was about 11 feet high and measured 20 feet wide. Once the construction of the Wall was over, it was covered in plaster, and then white-washed to reflect the sunbeams that could be visible to others from far away.

Unlike the popular belief, Hadrian’s Wall is not a boundary between England and Scotland. According to historical data, it is also assumed that Hadrian’s Wall was planned much before the arrival of Roman Emperor Hadrian. In 1987, Hadrian’s Wall was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although many people have stolen the stones from the Wall to build other monuments, nevertheless some portions of the Wall still exists in present-day England. And measures have been taken to preserve the condition and grandeur of Hadrian’s Wall for future generations. In 2003, a National Trail Path was formed along the Wall for tourists to walk from the west coast to east coast.

Hadrian’s Wall has been featured in many Hollywood movies such as Centurion, King Arthur, The Eagle, and so on. Even after 2,000 years, the Hadrian’s Wall stands tall as a relic of ancient Roman heritage and culture.  

Haider Ali (have 96 posts in total)

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