Friday, March 18, 2016

History of Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall_1

Hadrian’s Wall – Focus of Several Years of Archaeological Research

Hadrian’s Wall which is northern England is very popular to tourist and walkers and has been focus of several years of archaeological research. Some lesser known facts regarding how the Roman wall worked has been revealed by Patricia Southern. The Hadrian's wall which tends to run through northern England in many ways signified Roman Emperor Hadrian’s new ideology. Hadrian, who reigned from 117 to 138 AD, had abandoned continual conquest and expansion, favouring enclosing the Roman Empire within clearly marked frontiers.

The frontier, in some province comprised of a road or a river which had been guarded by forts and towers, while in others, including Africa, Britain and Germany, the frontier lines comprised of running barriers. More elaborate than the others was the British frontier and in its final version it seemed to be strongly held by auxiliary soldiers in 17 forts beside the line of the wall with outposts to the north together with forts in the vicinity also.

The frontier system seemed to be complex beginning from the north and working south, where there were outposts beyond the wall – three Hadrianic forts towards the west and later forts in the east beside what is presently the A68.

Original Wall Built of Turf

It is a major road running from Darlington to Edinburgh. The original version of the wall was built of turf, in the west from the river Irthing to the Firth. There could have been a possibility that the tribes in this area were hostile and the frontier had to be erected hurriedly. While on the other hand, there could havebeen a shortage of suitable stone as the locally available red sandstone seemed to be too friable or easily crumbled.

The western section of the wall had been replaced with better stone towards the second century. As recommended by the names of some of the third century units known as exploratores or scouts, the soldiers in the outposts could have undertaken regular patrols to perceive the natives.

 There was a wall further south that was protected by a ditch towards its northern side, which was designed to prevent close approach and was reinforced in some places by three rows of pits. These possibly contained stacked thorn branches that made penetration difficult and these features could have been recognised in the flatter areas though not along the wall.
Hadrian's Wall_2

Function of the Wall – Prevent Getting Near/Massing Together

Thereafter was the wall, which was initially around ten Roman feet thick and later reduced to eight feet which gave rise to a frontier of different dimensions. It is not known how high it has been but there could or could not have been a wall-walk along the top. No one knows if the Roman had patrolled along the wall or had confined their lookout posts to the forts, fortlets known as `milecastles’ and turrets positioned every third of a mile between them.

A wall-walk being there or not, there seems to be a lot of dead ground where observation would be obstructed. But this possibly did not matter since it is doubtful that the wall would be defended like a castle under siege. Rather the most possible function of the wall was to prevent anyone from getting near or massing together in the distance.

 Though it had been recommended, that manning the wall top would help to delay hostile natives, when the troops had assembled. The fact that we do not seem to know much regarding the wall is part of its fascination and on top of its historical interest, the wall tends to run through some of the most amazing scenery in northern England.

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