Sign Up
Newsletter Signup
Free Fodor's Newsletter

Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.

Passport: Your weekly travel wrap-up
Today's Departure: Your daily dose of travel inspiration

The Northeast Sights

Hadrian's Wall

  • Building/Architectural Site
  • Fodor's Choice

Updated 06/04/2014

Fodor's Review

Dedicated to the Roman god Terminus, the massive span of Hadrian's Wall once marked the northern frontier of the Roman Empire. Today, remnants of the wall wander across pastures and hills, stretching 73 miles from Wallsend in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in the west. The wall is a World Heritage Site, and excavating, interpreting, repairing, and generally managing it remains a Northumbrian growth industry. Chesters, Housesteads, Vindolanda, and the Roman Army Museum near

Greenhead give you a good introduction to the life led by Roman soldiers. In summer there are talks, plays, and festivals; local tourist offices have details.

At Emperor Hadrian's command, three legions of soldiers began building the wall in AD 122, and finished it in four years. It was constructed by soldiers and masons after repeated invasions by troublesome Pictish tribes from what is now Scotland. During the Roman era it was the most heavily fortified wall in the world, with walls 15 feet high and 9 feet thick; behind it lay the vallum, a ditch about 20 feet wide and 10 feet deep. Spaced at 5-mile intervals along the wall were massive forts (such as those at Housesteads and Chesters), which could house up to 1,000 soldiers. Every mile was marked by a thick-walled milecastle (a fort that housed about 30 soldiers), and between each milecastle were two turrets, each lodging four men who kept watch. For more than 250 years the Roman army used the wall to control travel and trade and to fortify Roman Britain against the barbarians to the north.

During the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, the English dismantled much of the Roman wall and used the stones to pave what is now the B6318 highway. The most substantial stretches of the remaining wall are between Housesteads and Birdoswald (west of Greenhead). Running through the southern edge of Northumberland National Park and along the sheer escarpment of Whin Sill, this section is also an area of dramatic natural beauty. The ancient ruins, rugged cliffs, dramatic vistas, and spreading pastures make it a great area for hiking.

Read More

Advertisement

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating
  • Service

  • Food

  • D├ęcor

  • Value

Nov 25, 2012

Hadrian's Wall....too good to miss

We have lived close to the Wall for many years and never tire of exploring and walking along its length. The wall ran for 80 or so kilometres plus more if you also count the section running down the west coast of Cumbria. Our favourite section is where the wall follows the Whin Sill and you get the dramatic views across the crags. There are Roman monuments which are better preserved and those which are more educational. But for atmosphere and feeling

it is difficult to beat the wall on a misty day.

Read More

Add Your Own Review

When did you go?

Minimum 200 character count

How many stars would you give?

Experience

Ease

Value

Don't Miss

Advertisement