The seventy three mile long stone wall stretching from the west to east coasts of Northern England is one of the most remarkable and huge historical building projects ever.
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Hadrian reigned in the Roman Empire when it was at the height of it’s glory, fame and land mass. The northernmost frontier was in the wild and rebellious lands of Britannia. Roman explorers had already travelled right up to the tip of the island and looked out across the North Sea.
But despite its beauty, these lands offered barely any economic and political value to the Romans whatsoever. It wasn’t any good for farming or cattle, it was cold and building there would be much harder than it should be. Further, the natives, like almost all other Britons, had a fierce disliking to the new Roman invaders. There was no point in keeping any land further north, but without a barrier to hem the people from “beyond the world” in, they’d always attempt to attack or argue with the Roman governors in Britain. It would take too much money to maintain a stable position of safety in the region.
Additionally, while the Emperor’s legions remained there, they’d be out of training and often without any thing to do. It would be a financial waste to keep them there – but if he took them south and away, the natives would rise up and fight again.
Hadrian was known for going against common practice or expectations, and instead of gathering more land, he focused on securing what he had. Therefore, he found a way around this issue.
Millions of tons of stone were used to construct the wall, and it was multiple meters high and thick. The organisation was as follows – along the length of the fortification, there were seventeen grand fortresses, fully equipped with barracks, bathhouses and hospitals. Additionally, there was also a gateway every mile which could house up to sixty soldiers and between each mile tower lay two lookout posts.
Also, the Emperor was particularly interested in architecture, which probably inspired his organised design of the wall. Other walls built during the slow decline of the Roman Empire didn’t match to Hadrian’s Wall.
15,000 men taken from multiple legions were assigned to building it, as architects and stonemasons followed the troops when on the march. This meant that there was always a powerful workforce.
Small villages and towns also sprung up around the wall, to supply it with resources such as food, new weapons and clothes. Within ten years, the project was completed. 128 AD was it’s finishing date. The furthest point of the empire had been sealed off.
Nowadays the wall has been worn down by time and the elements. No longer is it huge, thick and tall, and no longer are there massive fortresses attached to it. However, the base (which is short enough to step over) still remains in its original place, winding for miles over the cliffs and valleys of North England. Outlines of the barracks and towers are also etched into the landscape.
Hadrian’s Wall is an astonishing historical construction, the greatest fortification built in the time of the Roman Empire. Clearly it demonstrates the Romans’ ability to carry out massive developments in their domains to secure acquired land and show off their power to rebel nations.
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