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
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
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.
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
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.