Declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, Hadrian’s Wall is one of Britain’s major ancient tourist attractions, having a wealth of history and, in some places, an impressive sight. The wall spanned 120 kilometres from coast to coast across the neck of northern England, with sections varying from 3 to 6 metres tall and wide.
It is actually a misconception that the wall borders England and Scotland, as the wall lies entirely within England with some parts being more than 100 kilometres away from the border. The A69 and B6318 roads follow the rough course of the wall, and parts of the structure can be seen when driving.
“KEEP OUT … AND STAY OUT”
Upon “divine instruction”, Roman emperor Hadrian began construction of the wall in 122 AD, reportedly in order to keep the northern barbarians out of the empire after the conquest of Britannia half a century earlier. This particular reason for construction was given by Hadrian’s own biographer, although there exist many other reasons as to why it was built, not least of which was that it was simply a visible, political indication for the strength of the Roman empire in Britain. Upon his ascension to power, Hadrian had experienced rebellions across the empire in conquered lands including Egypt, Palestine, and Gaul (Western Europe that included parts of Germany, Luxembourg, and France), and such problems likely had an influence on his decision to build the wall.
“DEFEND IT WITH YOUR LIVES”
Along the 120 kilometre span of the wall lie no less than 16 once-garrisoned forts (approximately one every 7 kilometres), many of which are now just remains. Each garrison could hold a veritable army, housing up to 600 men at a time as well as cavalry stables. It is estimated that during the 2nd century AD, the total number of troops manning the wall numbered close to 10,000.
After Hadrian’s death in 138 AD the new emperor, Antoninus Pius, abandoned the wall in favour of building a new one 160 kilometres to the north, called the Antonine Wall. This left Hadrian’s Wall in a supporting role, and it soon fell into disrepair. After the fall of the Roman Empire in Britain at around 410 AD, Hadrian’s Wall was occupied by Brits who likely had nowhere else to go and took advantage of the structure, inhabiting it late into the 5th century.
A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION
The wall has been referenced many times amongst various means of pop culture. One of the earliest is when it features in Nobel Prize-winning English author Rudyard Kipling’s short stories about a Roman Legionnaire, Parnesius, who fought against the Picts at the wall. More recently George R.R. Martin, famous for his book A Song of Ice and Fire, acknowledged that the wall was his main inspiration for The Wall in his books, although in the later book-inspired TV Series Game of Thrones, the proportions were revealed to be much exaggerated.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
B6320 (Rd), Bellingham, Hexham
Northumberland, England, NE48 2JY
+44 (0)1434 220 175
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
(Off Bellister Bank Rd), Haltwhistle
Northumberland, England, NE49 0JP
+44 (0)1434 320 106
- Address: B6318, Hexham, Northumberland NE47 6NN, UK
- GPS: 55.009761357533364,-2.324331210095238
- Phone: 0044 (0)1914 405 720
- Part of UK: England
- Sat Nav Postcode: NE47 6NN
- Entrance Fees: Free Access (to many parts of the wall)
- Disabled Access: Good (Depends on location)
- Visibility from Road: Excellent
- Image Credits: Stock Solutions