The south of England had been conquered by the Romans but the North was inhabited by a difficult tribe called the Picts. At this time Hadrian introduced a strategy of consolidation - his objective was to restore order in problematic regions of the Empire. The days of expansion, instigating and financing invasions of new territories in the Roman Empire were past.
What was the purpose of Hadrians Wall?
The purpose of the wall was to 'separate Romans from Barbarians'. Hadrian's Wall was a Roman frontier built not just to prevent movement but also to control movement - especially the movement of the Picts.
Where was Hadrians Wall located?
Hadrians Wall was built across one of the narrowest parts of England, linking two rivers. Hadrians Wall stretched between the East from Wallsend on the river Tyne, near Newcastle and to the West reaching to the Solway Firth at Bowness-on-Solway in Cumbria.
What was the size of Hadrians Wall?
Hadrians Wall was a boundary measuring 73 miles ( 117km ) in length (equivalent to 80 Roman miles). The 42 miles of the Eastern section was the first to be built using stone. The 31 miles Western section was initially built using turf - to hasten the completion of the barrier. At the highest point it was 3.6 metres high - 12 feet and 2.4 metres wide - eight feet.
The Roman Mile
The Roman mile was 5000 feet (1524 meters). The Roman mile originates from the Latin word 'Mille' meaning a thousand. A Roman mile was the distance a Roman legion could march in 1000 paces, which was equivalent to 2000 steps.
The Building of Hadrians Wall
Who built Hadrians Wall? How long did the wall take to build? Hadrians Wall was built by Roman legionaries. These soldiers belonged to the 2nd, 6th and 20th legions. The men of the Roman Legions were skilled in building roads, buildings and roads. Engineers, Stonemasons and Blacksmiths played a vital role in the legions. Hadrians Wall took about 6 years to complete.
Facts about Hadrians Wall
Hadrians Wall was a remarkable example of Roman building and architecture, the following interesting facts describe the enormity of the project:
- Fact 1: Itstretched for 73 miles, was 8 feet wide and 12 feet high
Fact 2: 80 Milecastles were built along the wall - Every Roman mile a milecastle was erected. A milecastle was a huge fortified gateway which Roman soldiers used to go on patrol to the north of Hadrianís Wall. The Milecastles were also used to control people who passed through the Wall. The Milecastles housed Garrisons of up to 60 troops
Fact 3: Turrets - At regular intervals between the milecastles turrets were built. Turrets were small towers extending above the Wall. From the numerous turrets the Roman soldiers could keep watch over the surrounding countryside. The Turrets housed Garrisons of up to 4 troops
Fact 4: Forts - 16 Roman forts were built along the wall - these forts could house up to 800 Roman troops and afforded even greater control across the boundary. The Roman forts consisted of a Commanders headquarters, houses, hospital, workshops, barracks, granaries, stables and a prison. The Roman Forts housed Garrisons of up to 800 troops
Fact 5: The Forts, Milecastles and Turrets enabled Roman soldiers to watch what was happening along the whole length of the border
Fact 6: Ditches - On the north side a deep defensive ditch was dug - ensuring that it could only be crossed through the Roman controlled Milecastles or Forts
Fact 7: Settlements grew up around the forts and trading centres were created
Guarding Hadrians Wall
Hadians wall was manned initially by troops from the 2nd, 6th and 20th legions who incorporated men from every corner of the Roman Empire. As time passed the job of guarding the surrounding countryside then gradually fell to men who were recruited from the local population. Manning Hadrians Wall was eventually viewed as a good job by the local population and the job of manning it was passed from father to son, much as with any other occupations of the era. Hadrians Wall fell into disrepair following the decline of the Roman Empire when the Romans left Britain in 410 AD. Stones taken from the ruins of Hadrians Wall were used to build local buildings and for the construction of great monasteries such as those built at Lindisfarne.