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Hadrian's Wall: Keep Out!

Updated on June 3, 2010

The edge of the Roman Empire

Protecting Brittania

The Roman Empire spread throughout the Mediterranean, Northern Africa, Gaul, and eventually Brittania. They would have gone further north but those wily Scots (Celts and Saxons) were too much for the Romans. Emperor Hadrian decided to build a wall in Northumberland to keep the Scots out. Not to mention how building a wall was another example of Rome's power even in the faraway island Brittania. Begun in A.D. 122 the wall was constructed in increments from Newcastle upon Tyne to Carlisle. Archeologists say it was 80 Roman miles ( 73.5 miles or 117 km). The wall was built entirely in Brittania and still is below the current recognized border between England and Scotland by 15km. After constructing the wall Hadrian decided to construct forts and place some auxiliary soldiers, close to 500-1000, for additional support. Visitors can see two ancient foundations of the forts Banna, now known as Birdoswald, and Vercovicium (Housesteads).


Look upon the valley below

As most of you know who are reading this the countryside of England is breathtaking. Looking on the fields of poppies and tall grass you feel like characters from your favorite fairy tale will soon come out of the woods. But the view from Hadrian's Wall to the valley below is undescribeable. You walk slowly up the hill as the wind blows so hard you might tumble back down the hill. For those fellow Pride and Prejudice lovers of the 1995 version think of the moment when Elizabeth is visiting Derbyshire with her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner and she is atop the cliff looking down on the valley below. The view from Hadrian's wall is very close to that moment when you feel apart of nature while still in awe of the beauty before you and the history you're standing upon. It is a moment like no other. Nothing else enters your mind and it becomes one of those moments when you simply live appreciating everything around you.

Pheasants and sheep frolic around the wall and the valley, quietly minding their own business. One of the even better parts about the wall is that it's not flooded with tourists. Everything is quiet save the howl of the wind. You can almost picture the Roman guards standing watch while the Scots, Celts, or other raiding bands came flooding up from the valley below.

Ancient relic of past glory

Think what you will about the Roman Empire but standing amongst history is always an exciting moment. It may sound naive and cliche but standing by an ancient relic reminds me that the ancient world was not a simple place. People in the B.C. and early A.D. eras had many troubles. For us living in modern day and still looking upon something that has lasted this long makes their achievements even more spectacular. 


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