[Tuesday - 05/04/99] Hadrian's Wall is, by far, the most important monument built by the Romans in Britain. It is easily the best known frontier of the entire Roman Empire and stands as mute reminder to one of the world's greatest civilizations. This was especially true as we approached it on our misty morning walk. Being there still invokes a sense of standing on the edge of the world.
The Wall was built by order of the Emperor Hadrian, who came to Britain in 122 AD. Over the next six years, the army built a wall 80 Roman miles long (117 km or 73 modern miles), some 5 meters (15 feet) high, east to west from Wallsend to Bownes. Hadrian's Roman biographer says that the Wall was built "to separate the Romans from the Barbarians."
By the early fifth century AD, the Roman Empire had declined and they were forced to abandon Britain. The Wall became derelict and the stones were re-used in local buildings and field walls. We noticed this even while walking up to the Wall and passing other, nearby constructs. What we see of the Wall in modern times is all the more precious for being the last remains of such an incredible Roman achievement.
One of the most interesting aspects of sites like the Wall is the casual way in which it stands as an integral part of the British countryside. All of the surrounding land is privately owned and farmers still work the land. Passing through private gates and being ogled by grazing sheep herds became the usual fare.
Last modified on Wednesday, November 26, 2008|
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