"The World Heritage Site of Hadrian’s Wall is over 1,800 years old. It stretches 150 miles across the country, crossing Cumbria, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear. It includes the 73 mile-long Hadrian’s Wall and the Cumbrian coastal defences.
At its peak the wall would have been around 5 metres tall and in some places 3 metres wide. It was built to define the northern limit of the civilized Roman Empire, keeping the ‘barbarians’ of the north at bay.”
- Frances MacIntosh, English Heritage
Top Ten facts about Hadrian’s Wall
Hadrian's Wall was begun around AD122.
- The Wall stretches for 80 Roman miles, 73 modern miles or 117 km, across the narrowest part of the island.
- The whole defence was 150 modern miles long. It included a string of forts and watchtowers on the Cumbrian coast.
- The Romans made the most of the local geology. They built the Wall along the towering crags of the Great Whin Sill.
- It wasn't built to keep the Scots out but to control the border at the edge of the Empire. Gates allowed traders and travellers to pass through. These were probably like the customs areas at airports and ports today.
- Roman army engineers, labourers, surveyors and masons from across the Roman Empire built the Wall on the orders of Emperor Hadrian.
- Forts were built up the west coast from Ravenglass north to Maryport and Bowness-on-Solway. From there Hadrian's Wall went east past Carlisle, Haltwhistle, Hexham, and Newcastle. A final fort guarded the east coast at South Shields.
- Hadrian’s Wall has never marked the border between England and Scotland. It's 60 miles or 97 km further north in places. The kingdoms of England and Scotland didn’t exist until hundreds of years after the Romans left Britain.
- Soldiers, merchants and their wives, children and slaves lived on Hadrian’s Wall. They came from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. They brought with them some of their local food, languages, knowledge and culture.
- The Romans left Hadrian's Wall in AD402.
Find out more
Explore Roman Carlisle - by Tullie House - using interactive maps and timelines, object re-construction and entertaining games.
Tales of the Frontier - Visitors’ responses to different images of Hadrian’s Wall - by Durham University's Centre for Roman Cultural Studies.
UNESCO Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site. The World Heritage follows the edge of the Roman Empire from Hadrian’s Wall in the far north west, through Europe, round the Mediterranean, Red and Black Seas and across the north of Africa back to the Atlantic coast.
Hadrian’s Wall and its legacy on Tyneside by WallQuest. This community archaeology project focuses on the easternmost 30 miles of Hadrian’s Wall between South Shields and Hexham/Corbridge.