Why Was Hadrian’s Wall Built? | Animated History


The Emperor Trajan presided over the greatest military expansion in Roman history. When he died in AD 117, his successor Hadrian was left with the daunting task of defending the empire. Special attention needed to be paid to the northernmost frontier in Britannia where there was resistance from the barbarian natives. Hadrian came to Britain in AD 122 and decided to solve the barbarian
problem by building a giant wall, a project without precedence in Europe. Initially, most of the wall was to be built in stone but the
western 30-mile section was to be made from turf. In front of both was a deep ditch and at each mile a gate was
protected by a small guard post called a milecastle. Between each pair of milecastles lay two towers.The stone wall was to be
15 Roman feet high and 10 Roman feet wide. The building of Hadrian’s Wall was a complicated process that involed the entire Roman army of Britain – approximately 15,000 men! These men were not just highlytrained soldiers but also skilled craftsmen. It was decided that forts such as Chesters would be placed astride
the wall, each housing as many as 1000 men! The designers had to contend with fierce torrents of fast rivers,
hard rock and mile upon mile of rolling hills. Hadrian’s Wall defined the edge of the empire in Britannia
and gave the Romans control over customs, immigration and smuggling. From the point of view of the barbarians north of the wall, it
must have seemed like an almost superhuman accomplishment and a daunting symbol of Rome’s imperial might.

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Reader Comments

  1. Macsen Wledig

    It was universally acknowledged for centuries (see Nennius, Bede and every antiquarian up to the 20th century) that Hadrian had a Vallum and turf rampart constructed along the Stanegate road. And that the emperor Severus had a wall of stone built in the early 3rd century.
    I have not come across any satisfactory explanation to rename the Wall “Hadrians” yet here we are.

  2. Caleb Pederson

    Why didn’t they build a series of walls?

    Northern Italy- should be the strongest wall using the mountains and rivers with a similar design to Constantinople.

    Northern Spain- similar wall to the British one.

    Africa- only around the fertilized land

    France- I’m not sure their land is just grassland and forests. Not many mountains. They can use the riversides?

    Series of strong forts among the empire ( they did have hundreds but maybe more funding )

  3. Wendell Fugate

    I think that one of the things you either forgot or chose not to mention is that historical records, as well as the actual structure that Roman fear and extremely agonizing dread of the then Picts, now Scots drove them to protect them from these "barbarians" . Roman fear of them is well documented as was the ruthless ferocity of the Scots and was unquestionably unequaled when compared with other foes.

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