Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Walking Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall, Northern England
Hadrian's Wall
© Copyright David Dixon
Back in AD 122, when much of Britain was part of the Roman Empire, Emperor Hadrian ordered his soldiers to build a wall to keep the people of Scotland out. The wall stretched from the Tyne on the east coast to the Solway Firth in the west and was 80 Roman miles (about 73 modern miles) long, 8-10 feet wide, and 15 feet high. Small forts called milecastles were also built every Roman mile along the wall's length, with towers every 1/3 mile. Sixteen larger forts holding from 500 to 1000 troops were built into the wall, with large gates on the north face. To the south of the wall the Romans dug a wide ditch, (vallum), with six foot high earth banks. The entire construction took around six years to complete.

Birdoswalk Fort, Hadrian's Wall, Northern England
Birdoswald Fort, Hadrian's Wall
© Copyright David Dixon
Hadrian's Wall today
Thanks to extensive preservation and restoration work, a significant portion of the wall still exists and in 1987 it was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. English Heritage, a government organisation in charge of managing the historic environment of England, describes it as 'the most important monument built by the Romans in Britain'. It is now a very popular tourist attraction and can be followed for much of its length on foot (along Hadrian's Wall Path) or by cycle (on National Cycle Route 72).

Hadrian’s Wall Path
So called because it follows Hadrian's Wall for most of its length, this long distance path  (135 km / 84 miles) runs from Wallsend on the east coast of England to Bowness-on-Solway on the west coast. The walking is relatively easy, that is to say more or less flat, although muddy in places. The highest point on the path is only 345 metres (1130 feet) high. Though most of the Wall runs through remote countryside featuring rolling fields and rugged moorland, there are sections which pass through the cities and suburbs of Newcastle and Carlisle. The section between Chollerford and Walton is the highest and wildest part of the path; it is also where the Wall is most visible, and includes several important Roman forts.

The path is well signposted and there are many interesting places to visit along the way.

For more information about Hadrian's Wall, click here.

The photographs used in this post are licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

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