22 things to know about Hadrian’s Wall and the Hadrian’s Wall Path
The Hadrian’s Wall Path stretches coast to coast in England and is a popular route for walkers. Here are some great facts and info about the walking path.
1 Hadrian’s Wall was built across northern England in Roman times. It was commissioned in AD122 by Emperor Hadrian to protect the Roman Empire from “barbarians” to the north.
2 The Wall served in Roman times as a military fortification and also a trade point with customs posts to allow for the collection of import taxes.
3 Today, Hadrian’s Wall is acclaimed as one of Britain’s most iconic landmarks and the largest surviving Roman monument in Europe.
4 Hadrian’s Wall received an official designation as an UNESCO World Heritage Site some 31 years ago. This means it is acknowledged as a site of “outstanding value to humanity” and will be protected and preserved for future generations.
5 In 2012, the official 84-mile Hadrian’s Wall Path was opened and 16 years later around 11,000 people walk the route annually. The path crosses England from Wallsend, near Newcastle, through Northumberland to the historic city of Carlisle and finally to the Solway Coast. In 2018, why not plan to enjoy a Hadrian’s Wall walking holiday?
6 As well as being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Path holds the status of an official national trail, which allows it to be properly managed and protected.
7 Hadrian’s Wall is not just a wall. For while the wall is made of stone or turf, a ditch was also created at the front, as well as various other obstacles. The wall also features turrets, tiny forts known as milecastles and larger garrison forts. These were all linked by a military road.
8 It took six years and 15,000 men to build the wall. Centurial stones, which can be seen at different stages of the wall, detail the names of the centurions who, with their men, built Hadrian’s Wall.
9 The Wall that is in existence today is estimated to be only 10% of the original. Over the centuries, stone has been removed, buried or destroyed although what remains is still very impressive.
10 Many people assume that Hadrian’s Wall was once the border between England and Scotland but this is not so. The two kingdoms didn’t exist when Hadrian’s Wall was built.
11 Hadrian’s Wall is just a part of what was once a much larger Roman frontier. In the 2nd century AD, the frontier of the Roman Empire stretched for more than 5,000km across Europe, the Middle East and the north of Africa.
12 Most of Hadrian’s Wall is held in private ownership by hundreds of different families and farms, although several sections are owned by organisations such as English Heritage and the National Trust.
13 Sir Walter Scott and George R R Martin were both inspired to write about Hadrian’s Wall. Scott wrote the poem, To a Lady – with flowers from a Roman Wall in 1813, while Martin, of Game of Thrones fame wrote about The Wall, which keeps wildlings out of the Seven Kingdoms after a visit to Hadrian’s Wall in 1981.
14 Most people who walk the Hadrian’s Wall Path do so from east to west, although it is perfectly possible to journey in the opposite direction.
15 It’s recommended that people allow six to 10 days to walk the Hadrian’s Wall Path. The longer you allow the more sights and attractions you can visit.
16 Segedunum is one of many highlight attractions on the Hadrian’s Wall Path. It takes the for of the most eastern fort on Hadrian’s Wall and is often referred to as the gateway to the Wall. The visitor attraction offers a large interactive museum and a 35 metre tall viewing tower.
17 Segedunum is the place to get your Hadrian’s Wall badge and certificate, so long as you promise to finish the walk.
18 Corbridge Roman Town is a former garrison town and is well worth a short detour to visit. You will discover the remains of two large granaries, a fountain house, markets and workshops and also have the chance to visit a great museum.
19 Chesters Roman Fort is found just after leaving the village of Chesters. The site offers one of the best-preserved Roman Cavalry Forts in the UK. A highlight of the attraction is the Roman baths.
20 Housesteads Roman Fort is arguably the most significant fort along the length of the Wall thanks to the amazingly well preserved wall ruins. There’s another excellent museum to visit and it is home to a model of how the Fort would have once looked. The Fort is in the care of English Heritage.
21 Another fort, Vindolanda, also boasts some fascinating ruins and a host of artefacts from the fort and wall that can be seen in the museum. Gems include cutlery, weapons, pottery and writing tablets (like Roman postcards).
22 Birdoswald Roman Fort is discovered towards the end of the east-to-west walk along Hadrian’s Wall and deserves a visit. You can see three of the four main gateways that were unearthed and preserved, along with the fort’s outside walls.