Hadrian’s Wall also known as Roman Wall – Part 1

Hadrianův val táhnoucí se krajem

When you say “wall”, many people will certainly imagine The Great Wall of China. Some people might also think of an album by a phenomenal rock band. If we stay with the topic a bit longer, we could also think of the Berlin Wall or Hadrian’s Wall, for sure.  

There are many people who have not studied the history of Antiquity and, therefore, know very little about Hadrian himself or his wall. Perhaps just that he existed and that the wall is on the border of Scotland and England.

In the following text, we will try to write a bit more about Hadrian’s Wall and also mention one more “wall” (further on only as “earthwork”) that has been unknown to me until recently.

Historical facts

Let us begin with a few historical facts, years, names, and technical dates. Hadrian (117 AD – 138 AD) took the throne after Trajan who had adopted him a few days before his death and passed on the power. If you paid attention at school you might remember that during Trajan’s rule the Roman Empire attained its maximum territorial extent. 

The empire was stable in its interior, but the newly acquired areas were in unrest. That was true also for the border of England and Scotland.

It was necessary to stabilize the situation and to stop the constant attacks from Caledonia (English name for what is today Scotland) and to delineate the border between it and Rome which had been unclear so far, in order to peacefully colonize this island. Hadrian personally visited Brittany (Roman name for the island) in 122 AD. He gave the order to start the construction of a defensive wall in the narrowest place of what is today England, from the estuary of the Tyne River (today’s location of Newcastle) to the bay Solway Firth (today the village Bowness on Solway).

Although it is the narrowest place of England, the distance between these two points is 117 kilometres (79 Roman miles). Hadrian had to be fully aware of his decision. A gargantuan project such as this one needs enormous human effort, unimaginable requirements on transport and movement of material, provisions, and enormous financial costs.

The construction itself

The construction of the defensive wall started a year later, in 123 AD. Almost twelve thousand men participated on it. They were not slaves but members of special Roman legions that were trained not only for fighting but also for construction in general.

Source: Lomy a těžba