The frontier of the Roman Empire
Hadrian’s Wall is a magnificent achievement, a fixed frontier of the Roman Empire from coast to coast, occupied by soldiers and civilians. Begun in AD 122, it took six years to complete a barrier 73 miles long, across the land from the Solway Firth to Wallsend on the River Tyne.
It twists and snakes along dramatic crags and escarpments. There were more than 80 milecastles or forts, two observation towers and 17 larger forts. To the south, a ditch six metres wide was dug.
Once the Romans left Britain 300 years later, much of the wall fell into decay and was recycled into local buildings and houses, and threatened by the increasing demand for roadstone from the quarries at Walltown and Cawfields.
The 1913 Ancient Monuments legislation brought much of the Wall into the care of the nation, and in 1987, it became a World Heritage Site, joining truly world-class heritage like the Pyramids of Egypt and the Taj Mahal. No other heritage site in Europe gives as much public access to so many archaeological remains.