The size and complexity of Hadrian’s Wall WHS means that there are a large number of organisations and individuals with an interest in it. Some bodies have statutory responsibility, official or promotional and economic links with the Wall. Those with an interest can be private individuals, organisations, or communities, operating at national, regional or local levels. With the inscription of Hadrian’s Wall as part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire WHS, there is an additional international interest in the Site’s management as each of its elements is part of one transnational WHS.
This section sets out how these various interests are involved in the management of the WHS, their remits, and how the management of the WHS relates to them. The principal statutory measures that play a part in the protection and management of the WHS can be found
The Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site Partnership Board (HWPB) represents these interests and oversees the management of their coordination. Further explanation of the roles and responsibilities of the HWPB and other bodies involved in the management of the WHS are provided in the management section of the website.
UNESCO was established in 1945 as a branch of the United Nations with an overall objective ‘to build peace in the minds of men’. Its 1972 Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (known as the World Heritage Convention) established the concept of World Heritage Sites. The World Heritage Committee is the decision-making body with regard to new inscriptions, and changes to inscriptions (such as boundary changes). It also monitors the condition of each WHS through its system of periodic reporting, and if a property is threatened or damaged UNESCO will consider what course of action should be taken. Actions that the Committee can take include: offering advice; seeking further information, if necessary by sending an expert mission; placing a property on the in-danger list if its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) is threatened; or removing it altogether from the World Heritage List if the OUV is irretrievably damaged.
The nomination of the German Limes in 2004 contained a Summary Nomination Statement for the Frontiers of the Roman Empire WHS, which was generally endorsed by ICOMOS in its evaluation of the nomination. (Whilst the Committee recommended that this extension of the property should seen as the second phase of a possible wider, phased, serial trans-national nomination to encompass all of the remains of the Roman frontiers that have the potential to demonstrate OUV,, it did not formally approve or endorse the Summary Nomination Statement, although it has subsequently been used by relevant states parties as the basis for their actions.) The Statement says:
‘The responsibility for the management of individual parts of the WHS must rest with the individual State Party and be carried out by each in accordance with their legislative and management systems. Equally, it is essential that individual parts within the WHS are managed within an overall framework of cooperation to achieve common standards of identification, recording, research, protection, conservation, management, presentation and understanding of the Roman frontier.’
Any changes to the boundaries of the Hadrian’s Wall component of the WHS need the agreement of the other State Parties before being submitted for approval by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.
The United Kingdom and German authorities have formed a governing body for the FRE WHS – the Intergovernmental Committee (IGC) – as recommended in the UNESCO Operational Guidelines (2013). This is made up of a government representative and an historic environment advisor representing each State Party. The IGC has agreed a Joint Declaration and Terms of Reference for the transnational WHS.
The Bratislava Group, named after the city in which it first met in 2003, is made up of experts in the history and archaeology of the Roman frontiers and of those currently involved in their management. It has members from the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary and Croatia – countries that are either responsible for parts of the FRE WHS already inscribed, or which have established their intention to nominate their sections of the frontier by including them on their respective Tentative Lists. Based on the Summary Nomination Statement of the FRE WHS, the IGC Terms of Reference define the role of the Group as:
‘The Bratislava Group aims to share knowledge and experience of Roman frontiers and their identification, protection, conservation, management and presentation, leading to the distillation of a common viewpoint, and through technical and professional advice provides the scientific framework for the whole WHS. The Bratislava Group should form the core of an international scientific advisory group on the Frontiers of the Roman Empire WHS. Its role should be to support States Parties in the creation of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire WHS by:
• advising States Parties on the significance of the Roman Frontiers and on the development of best-practice guides for its management and improving its understanding
• developing support structures such as an overall research strategy, an international Roman Frontiers database and websites.’
The FRE WHS Management Group was formed in 2009 and is composed of the Co-ordinators of Hadrian’s Wall, the German Limes, and the Antonine Wall, together with others responsible for the day-to-day management of each section of the FRE WHS. The Management Group provides the primary mechanism for sharing best practice in relation to WHS FRE.
Its objectives are to:
- Provide the primary mechanism of sharing best practice on different aspects of the effective management of the FRE WHS;
- Provide advice to the IGC on relevant policy and management practice in relation to the FRE WHS;
- Develop appropriate shared management practices to ensure fulfilment of UNESCO policy as it applies to the FRE WHS;
- Establish and develop FRE WHS as an exemplar of a transnational WHS;
- Inform the development of policy and practice in relation to transnational WHSs;
- Identify and develop responses to opportunities for joint initiatives between different sections of FRE WHS;
- Inform, advise and support prospective sections of the FRE seeking inscription, as resources allow;
- Identify and secure resources to support the operation of the Group and initiatives to enhance the effectiveness of the management of the FRE WHS.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee receives expert advice (on strategic issues and on applications for assistance) from three international non-governmental Advisory Bodies.
For Hadrian’s Wall, the most relevant of the three is The International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), a non-governmental organisation which evaluates the nominations of cultural sites and reports on the state of conservation of cultural properties on the World Heritage List.
ICOMOS UK may provide advice on World Heritage Sites and the application of the World Heritage Convention in the United Kingdom, and can comment on planning applications affecting UK WHSs.
National Government Interests
The World Heritage Convention was ratified by the UK in 1984, and the government is responsible for the nomination of Sites and for the protection of Sites inscribed in the List. A number of national Government Departments have particular relevance to the management of World Heritage Sites in England; these include:
- Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport (DCMS)
- Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)
- Department for Education (DfE)
- Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DBIS)
- Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
DCMS is responsible for World Heritage Sites, and for the wider historic environment. In the context of World Heritage it is therefore the ‘State Party’. It is also the sponsoring Department for Historic England (see below).
The DCLG is responsible for determining national planning policy and for the preparation of associated Planning Policy Guidance and related legislation.
The Department for Education provides the national policy framework for much of the educational activity associated with the WHS.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is responsible for the promotion of business growth and regional economic development.
Defra has a considerable influence on the WHS and its Buffer Zone through regulation of the agricultural sector and management of schemes for the public support of farming – including agri-environmental schemes, of which the Environmental Stewardship scheme has been of particular importance to Hadrian’s Wall. Defra is also the sponsoring Government Department for The Forestry Commission, which has general controls over woodland and forestry grants and licences, and for Natural England (see below).
The Ministry of Defence has interests in the WHS and its Buffer Zone because of its ownership and use of the military base at Albermarle Barracks at Harlow Hill, the communications masts at Anthorn, and the ranges at Spadeadam, to the north of Gilsland. These have the potential to generate considerable amounts of military traffic and, in the case of Spadeadam, low-flying military aircraft on exercise; these activities can have an impact on the WHS.
The Highways Agency is an Executive Agency of the Department for Transport and has responsibility for the trunk roads in the WHS and Buffer Zone: the M6, A1, and A69. It therefore owns parts of the Site as well as contributing to the management of transport and access.
Other National Organisations
The United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO is the focal point in the UK for UNESCO-related policies and activities. The Commission is an independent civil society organisation which supports UNESCO’s work in the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, and communication. In particular, it works in close collaboration with the Department for International Development (DFID) and the United Kingdom Permanent Delegation to UNESCO in Paris.
Historic England is the government’s principal advisor on the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, as part of its role as statutory advisor on the historic environment. This includes the protection and conservation of Hadrian’s Wall. Sponsored by DCMS, the responsibilities and functions of Historic England mainly derive from the 1979 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act, as amended by The Heritage Act of 1983.
As such, Historic England:
- advises DCMS on the protection of sites by scheduling
- is consulted on a statutory basis by Local Planning Authorities on planning issues affecting scheduled monuments and their settings,
- is the government’s official advisor on the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, and thus has a key role in the statutory protection of the WHS
- offers advice and assistance to the owners of scheduled monuments.
- has several parts of the WHS in its guardianship. It is responsible for their conservation and for their presentation to the public
- has responsibility for important collections of artefacts from the Wall and exhibits these in site museums at Corbridge, Chesters, and Housesteads
- runs programmes of education and outreach.
(Until 2015, Historic England and English Heritage were part of a single organisation – English Heritage.)
Natural England’s remit is to ensure that the natural environment is conserved, enhanced and managed for the benefit of present and future generations. It administers the Environmental Stewardship schemes which have provided funding to farmers and other land managers to help them deliver effective environmental management on their land. The primary objectives are to: conserve wildlife; maintain and enhance landscape quality and character; protect the historic environment; promote public access and understanding of the countryside; and to protect natural resources.
Natural England is responsible for the family of National Trails, including the Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail. It provides funding for the maintenance and promotion of the Trail and is a member of the Hadrian’s Wall National Trail Partnership.
Natural England is also responsible for monitoring, advising and enforcing legislation on Protected Sites in England. These include Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs); Special Areas of Conservation (SACs); Special Protection Areas (SPAs); and RAMSAR sites. It also directly manages a number of National Nature Reserves (NNRs). Hadrian’s Wall WHS overlaps entirely or partially with a number of conservation and landscape designations (17 SSSIs, 3 NNRs, 5 SACs, 1 AONB, 1 NP, 1 SPA)
The oversight of regional museums, libraries and cultural property is the responsibility of the Arts Council England.
Hadrian’s Wall WHS currently falls within 7 different Local Authority areas, some of which have overlapping jurisdictions and powers. In the North East, parts of the Site lie in the four unitary authorities: Northumberland County Council, Newcastle City Council, and the Councils for North Tyneside and South Tyneside. Northumberland Council employs the WHS Co-ordinator. In the North West, the WHS runs through Cumberland Council area (formerly, Carlisle, Allerdale, and Copeland District Council areas, until 2023). Northumberland County Council chairs the Hadrian’s Wall National Trail Partnership.
The powers of Local Authorities that have most impact on the WHS relate to planning and economic development. Most of the Local Authorities are involved in developing and promoting sustainable tourism in the WHS. The County Councils and single-tier authorities also have responsibility for emergency planning. As the Highway Authorities they are responsible for Public Rights of Way, including the National Trail along the Wall, providing resources for its maintenance and being members of the Hadrian’s Wall National Trail Partnership.
Parish Councils provide a further level of local government outside Tyne and Wear. The WHS falls in the areas of 42 parish councils, with more parishes in the Buffer Zone. Like the single Town Council – Maryport – the powers of Parish Councils are limited but they do represent the interests of the local community (especially in spatial planning) and can become very involved in matters affecting the WHS.
As well as conserving and enhancing the landscape, wildlife, and cultural heritage, the National Park Authorities – here, those for Northumberland and the Lake District (at Ravenglass) – must also promote opportunities for the public to understand and enjoy their special qualities. The Parks are the Local Planning Authorities for their areas, responsible for preparing their Local Development Frameworks and for determining planning applications. The Northumberland National Park is the lead Partner in the Hadrian’s Wall National Trail Partnership, and it employs the National Trail Officer and the staff responsible for maintenance.
A team employed by Cumberland Council manage the protection and conservation of the cultural and natural heritage and of the landscape of the Solway Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) at the western end of Hadrian’s Wall.
Cultural and Academic Interests
Curiosity about Hadrian’s Wall began within a few centuries of the end of its active occupation and continued through the Middle Ages. It was boosted by the dissemination of the classical texts through the introduction of the printing press in the 15th century , and began to develop more specifically from the beginning of the 17th century.
Two local archaeological societies of long standing, the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne and the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, have been deeply involved in Wall studies since their foundation. They continue to promote these through their meetings and their journals, Archaeologia Aeliana, and The Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society. These have an international reputation and contain a significant proportion of the literature about the Wall. Since 1886, following the first pilgrimage organised by John Collingwood Bruce in 1849, the two societies have jointly held a decennial Hadrian’s Wall Pilgrimage, to study archaeological developments in the understanding of the Roman frontier.
Prominent among the institutions involved in study of the Wall have been the Archaeology Departments of universities – particularly those at Durham, Newcastle upon Tyne, and Manchester – through teaching, research and excavation. Durham University, jointly with Durham County Council, managed the development of the Research Framework for Hadrian’s Wall.
Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums (TWAM) is active in research at Wallsend and South Shields. On behalf of Newcastle University It is also responsible for managing the Great North Museum which incorporates the extensive Roman collections of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle. TWAM also encourages community research and participation through Wall Quest and the Heritage Champions programme.
The Vindolanda Trust has excavated extensively for over 40 years at Vindolanda, and the results of this work have contributed much to the understanding of the site and of the frontier as a whole. The Trust also owns and operates the Roman Army Museum, at Carvoran, which makes a significant contribution to public understanding of the Wall and its context.
The British Museum holds the majority of the Vindolanda writing tablets, and has contributed to their preservation and research. It has an active programme of lending artefacts from its collection to museums across the WHS.
The geophysical surveys undertaken by Timescape Surveys at seven of the forts in the WHS form an important example of individual involvement in WHS research.
Since 1992, The Arbeia Society has organised an annual conference on aspects of Hadrian’s Wall and Roman Britain. It forms a focus for disseminating recent research on the Wall and fostering interest in it. The Society also publishes its own journal, with papers focusing on archaeological research into the Roman period in the region, the results of research stimulated by re-enactment, and excavation reports.
Research on Hadrian’s Wall has led research on other frontiers of the Roman Empire. Academic interest in it extends beyond the UK, and new research on the Wall forms a significant part of the triennial International Congress of Roman Frontier Studies, which draws together scholars with interests in Roman frontiers.
Several museums contain important collections of artefacts that are essential components in our understanding of the WHS; they also stimulate curiosity across much wider audiences. The largest collections are at the Great North Museum, in Newcastle (run byTWAM), and at Tullie, in Carlisle (Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery Trust). Important site-museums exist at South Shields and Wallsend (TWAM), Corbridge, Chesters, and Housesteads (English Heritage), Vindolanda (Vindolanda Trust), and Maryport (Senhouse Museum Trust). As well as housing and displaying the finds from the Wall, museums hold many of the archives of excavations and surveys that are an important resource for the study of the WHS.
The Great North Museum, Cambridge University, and The Historic England Archive hold extensive collections of aerial photography of the Wall.
A sizeable proportion of the research undertaken into the archaeology of the frontier has been carried out by individuals – both those with full-time interests in heritage and those for whom it is a hobby. This continues undiminished. A number of community archaeology groups and local archaeological societies – for instance, Wallquest, on Tyneside, and the Maryport and District Archaeological Society – are active within the WHS. They have an important role to play in research and in encouraging participation, enjoyment, and the long-term sustainability of the Site.
Roman live re-enactment groups, including the Ermine Street Guard, Deja Crew, and Quinta (part of the Arbeia Society), conduct research into the arms and armour of the Roman army as well as its organisation and military practices, and into civilian life along the frontier in Roman times. These groups also attract large numbers of visitors to their events and so play a significant part in creating public interest in Hadrian’s Wall and in providing an entertaining learning experience.
Professional and amateur archaeological interests gather together annually for the Hadrian’s Wall Archaeological Forum which promotes wider understanding of research into the WHS.
The Hadrian’s Art Trust brings arts events – performance, poetry, and song – to the communities along the Wall.
Economic and Recreational Interests
The Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) for the North East and Cumbria link Local Authority and business interests within their areas and are responsible for strategic direction and determination of regeneration initiatives, economic development (urban and rural), the visitor economy, and skills, including the WHS. As an icon of the north, images of the Wall are regularly used in promotional material to emphasise the potential of the area and the quality of life.
Tourism to the WHS has long been important in the economy of the north of England, and has increased as older industries in the region have declined. It is now a major feature of regional and local economic strategies.
The promotion of Hadrian’s Wall as a destination, using the Hadrian’s Wall Country brand, is undertaken by the Hadrian’s Wall Marketing Group, a group comprising of membership from DMOs and attractions and which has close links to the HW Partnership Board. Tourism development and promotion of the wider areas beyond the WHS corridor is the responsibility of Northumberland Tourism, the Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, Cumbria Tourism, and the local authorities in North Tyneside and South Tyneside.
A large number of accommodation providers – hotels, B&Bs, bunk-barns, campsites, and self-catering units – all have an interest in the visitor economy. They are represented by associations such as They are represented by associations such as the Heart of Hadrian’s Wall Tourism Association. Visitors are also served by tearooms and by local shops and pubs, and walkers along the National Trail make extensive use of local bus services, taxi firms, and luggage carriers.
Many local food producers have successfully used the Hadrian’s wall Country brand in marketing their products.
Agriculture makes a very significant contribution to the sustainable management of the WHS, and responsible farming practice is a key factor in maintaining the Site in good condition. In the central sector of the Wall, the farming is primarily upland grazing, while in parts of Cumbria dairy farming predominates. In the remainder of Cumbria and in east Northumberland the agricultural land is mainly under arable. The change of tenure of farms in the WHS is rare, the great majority having been farmed by the same family for several generations. Farming interests are represented through the Country Landowners and Businesses Association and the National Farmers Union, which are national membership groups, organised on a regional basis.
The WHS falls into the land-holding of scores of farms, including a significant number of large estates and tenanted holdings as well as owner-occupied properties. The number of farms is even greater if the Buffer Zone is included.
Many land managers are conscientious in their efforts to maintain those features that characterise the landscape setting of the WHS. They are often assisted by focused agri-environment schemes. Farm diversification, often linked to tourism activity in the WHS, has contributed significantly to sustainability, helping to address the issue of low and fluctuating farm incomes. A stable agricultural regime helps to maintain the beauty of the landscape setting of the WHS, which is a strong factor in attracting visitors to the Wall, even though the presence of visitors can also create potential difficulties with livestock.
Forestry and quarrying
A proportion of the Buffer Zone and the wider corridor is covered by forestry, which has an important role in generating jobs and which contributes to the rural economy. The earthworks of the frontier sometimes survive well in woodland but the harvesting of the timber must be undertaken with particular care. Quarrying is also significant in the Buffer Zone and the wider corridor, but there is no active quarrying in the WHS itself.
The WHS and its Buffer Zone are part of a settled and well utilised landscape. The population in the ten miles on either side of Hadrian’s Wall numbers just under a million – approximately 430,000 households. The extent to which this population is affected by the WHS is varied. The relevance of the Site to many living in the urban areas is generally less than to many of the population in the countryside where its economic impact is more significant.
Some issues, such as transport and access, are common to visitors, local residents, and managers of the Site. These cannot be dealt with without the consideration of all of these interests, and there can be widely differing views on particular issues in local communities.
Some of those most directly affected by what happens to the WHS live close to it or farm the land, and may, on rare occasions, be subject to restrictions as to what they can do if their proposals would mean that the significance of the WHS would be affected. Tourism, especially to the most heavily visited parts of the Site, can sometimes have a negative impact (for instance, the volume of traffic generated especially along B6318), but tourism also presents development opportunities that can support existing and new businesses, with direct and indirect benefits to the local economy.
The opening of the National Trail has revolutionised access, and local services have benefitted accordingly. The recruitment of a body of local volunteers for the National Trail provides an additional link between communities and the WHS.
A number of site and museum managers include community engagement projects among their activities. Education also provides links between local communities and the WHS.
Ownership Pattern and Management Roles
The pattern of ownership and management in the WHS is complex and fragmented.
The majority of the WHS is in private ownership, as is most of the Buffer Zone. In Northumberland and in eastern Cumbria, it is the tenants of medium to large estates that farm most of the land, whereas to the west of Brampton there are a greater number of owner-occupied farms. In the urban areas, there is a very wide range of ownership.
A number of bodies own and manage approximately 10% of the WHS specifically for conservation and access.
The Vindolanda Trust owns around 42 ha in the central sector of the WHS, including the whole of the site at Vindolanda and its museum. The area of the displayed stone fort there is in English Heritage Guardianship, but is managed under a local management agreement by the Trust. The Vindolanda Trust also owns the site of the fort and much of that of the associated civilian settlement at Carvoran, together with the Roman Army Museum.
Camp Farm at Maryport, including the earthworks of the fort and the site of the civilian settlement) was acquired by Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Ltd in 2009. At the closure of its successor (The Hadrian’s Wall Trust) in 2014, the Cultura Trust became the new owners.
The museum housed in the Battery adjacent to the fort at Maryport is run by the Senhouse Museum Trust.
The National Trust’s estate in the central sector covers around 1,100 hectares of land, including the fort at Housesteads and five miles (8 km) of the Wall. It has in its care two of the six milecastles that have displayed remains, the fortlet and camps at Haltwhistle Common, considerable lengths of the Vallum, and Milecastle 38 at Hotbank, which survives as a particularly prominent earthwork.
English Heritage has in its guardianship:
- some five miles (8km) of the Wall, including four visible milecastles
- 16 of the 18 visible turrets
- two temples
- the Vallum crossing at Benwell
- the bathhouse at Ravenglass
- the abutments of the bridges at Willowford and Chesters
- five forts
- part of the centre of Roman Corbridge, although the greater part of the site of the town is privately owned with no access
- four museums on Hadrian’s Wall at Birdoswald, Housesteads, Corbridge and Chesters and their collections.
Many English Heritage Guardianship properties remain in the freehold of other owners, including the National Trust (eg Housesteads; Milecastle 42) and the Vindolanda Trust (Vindolanda), so that there is a degree of overlap between holdings.
Six Local Authorities manage parts of the WHS for the purposes of conservation and display. The main areas owned in this way are listed below.
- A length of the Wall at Longbyre (Northumberland County Council).
- The forts at Wallsend (North Tyneside Council) and South Shields (South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council), both managed together with their museums on behalf of their owners by Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums.
- Newcastle City Council owns one short length of consolidated Wall at West Denton and part of the site of the fort at Newcastle.
- Cumberland Council owns the excavated and displayed milefortlet at Swarthy Hill on the Cumbrian coast.
- Cumberland Council owns a length of Hadrian’s Wall and the Vallum east of Carlisle, as well as the presumed site of the bridge that carried Hadrian’s Wall across the River Eden.
- Northumberland National Park Authority manages the public car parks in the National Park boundary, as well as the Once Brewed National Park Centre and the recreation sites at Walltown and Cawfields.
- The highway authorities, including the county councils for Cumbria and Northumberland, Newcastle City Council, and North and South Tyneside, have a specific role in the development of a transport strategy for the WHS. Large lengths of Hadrian’s Wall lie under or beside modern roads in Northumberland, Cumbria and Newcastle, so the Highway Authorities have additional responsibilities as owners of parts of the WHS.
- Lake District National Park Authority owns and manages the fort at Ravenglass.
In sum, public bodies own or manage for conservation purposes:
- six out of the 16 forts on the line of the Wall, together with South Shields and Maryport
- three of the forts on the Stanegate, with parts of two others
- all six visible milecastles and one milefortlet
- all the visible and excavated turrets except Turret 44b at Mucklebank
- lengths of the Wall and Vallum
- a significant group of temporary camps.
Hadrian’s Wall Networking Day , formerly ‘The Hadrian’s Wall Conference‘
The annual Hadrian’s Wall Conference has provided an opportunity for those with an interest in the WHS to exchange updates on different aspects of the management of the Wall, and to debate current issues affecting the WHS. In future, more emphasis may be placed on using this event as a networking opportunity, for consulting and involving communities on projects, priorities and options.