Hadrian’s Wall was a defensive fortification in northern England. Begun in AD 122, during the rule of emperor Hadrian, it was the first of two fortifications built across Great Britain, the second being the Antonine Wall, lesser known of the two because its physical remains are less evident today.
The wall was the most heavily fortified border in the Empire. In addition to its role as a military fortification, it is thought that many of the gates through the wall would have served as customs posts to allow trade and levy taxation.
A significant portion of the wall still exists, particularly the mid-section, and for much of its length the wall can be followed on foot by Hadrian’s Wall Path or by cycle on National Cycle Route 72. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern England, where it is often known simply as the Roman Wall, or the Wall.
Hadrian’s Wall was 80 Roman miles (73.5 statute miles or 117 kilometres) long, its width and height dependent on the construction materials which were available nearby. East of River Irthing the wall was made from squared stone and measured 3 metres (9.7 ft) wide and five to six metres (16â€“20 ft) high, while west of the river the wall was made from turf and measured 6 metres (20 ft) wide and 3.5 metres (11.5 ft) high. This does not include the wall’s ditches, berms and forts. The central section measured eight Roman feet wide (7.8 ft or 2.4 m) on a 10-foot (3.0 m) base. Some parts of this section of the wall survive to a height of 10 feet (3.0 m).
Hadrian’s Wall extended west from Segedunum at Wallsend on the River Tyne to the shore of the Solway Firth, ending a short but unknown distance West of the village of Bowness-on-Solway.
The wall is entirely in England and south of the border with Scotland by less than one kilometre in the west at Bowness-on-Solway, and 110 kilometres (68 miles) in the east.