One of the greatest monuments to the power
- and limitations - of the Roman Empire,
Hadrian's Wall ran for 73 miles across open country.
By the time Hadrian became Emperor in 117 AD the Roman Empire had ceased to expand. Hadrian was concerned to consolidate his boundaries. He visited Britain in 122 AD, and ordered a wall to be built between the Solway Firth in the West and the River Tyne in the east "to separate Romans from Barbarians".
The majority of the wall was built of stone. At first 10 Roman Feet wide, and later 8, it began in the east and reached the river Irthing near present day Carlisle, from there it continues west to the Solway Firth but is built of 18" x 12" x 6" regulation turf blocks (460mm x 300mm x 150mm).
Milecastles were placed at regular intervals. Each pair of Milecastles had two Turrets between them. A Milecastle could garrison between 8 and 32 men. Turrets could also shelter some soldiers though they may have served primarily as look-out vantage points. As Hadrian's project evolved, more legionaries were moved up to the wall and large Forts were built which straddled it (see Chesters on the next page). These Forts had gates to allow traffic to pass north and south through the wall.
During six years of building the wall reached its final basic form: From the south; an earth mound, then a ditch and further mound, then an open area on which a road was built to allow easy access to all parts of the wall all along its length, then the main wall itself, and just to the north of that, a deep ditch.