Loading

Video transcript

In AD 122 the emperor Hadrian visited Britain From London he probably came to the far North of England to one of the remotest points of the Roman Empire Here he built which is now a world heritage site he built this wall, Hadrian's Wall With this wall he left us one of the great monuments of Roman history and the reason for its creation is key to understanding Hadrian's reign Hadrian inherited an Empire that suffered from serious problems of overstretch And one of his first big tasks was to fix the limits of the Empire that Rome could control He fixed it in Germany, in Syria, in North Africa and here in Northumberland on the borders between England and Scotland with it's greatest of all surviving Hadrianic boundaries Hadrian's wall this great stone fort you see here on the edge of the Empire on the Northern edge of the world an Empire that ran from here to Egypt Hadrian's wall wasn't a simple defensive barrier it was a brutally efficient security installation that allowed a very efficient military and economic control of the area here because probably of ongoing tunnel and warfare they have to be much more efficient about it and they built this huge structure Three legions are involved over many years a lot of manpower It's a huge engineering achievement the wall is eighty miles long and it stretches from Bowness-on-Solway to the River Tyne originally only to Newcastle and then extended right the way down to Wallsend on the Tyne Estuary We are on Hotbank Crags and in between a couple of mile castles the little garrisons of maybe twenty, thirty men who originally were intended to look after Hadrian's Wall Walking along this wall, up and down you get some idea of what the Romans were up against in garrisoning something like this thinking of the functions of what that wall might be controlling movements, this is what the mile castles were for If you look at the many wall which go up in the world today we can get a sense of the original intention behind Hadrian's wall and it was a very aggressive symbol and also very efficient practical tool of Roman dominance And this is only one of the borders of the Empire this was built all in stone and therefore seems now very impressive but there was the Limes in Germany and there was as similar sort of border installation in Northern Africa It went all around the Empire and that's very impressive