Hadrian's Wall

a wall of defense for the Roman province of Britain, constructed by Hadrian between Solway Firth and the mouth of the Tyne.

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Continuous Roman defensive barrier.

Begun by Hadrian in AD 122, the wall guarded the northwestern frontier of the province of Britain from barbarian (particularly Celtic) invaders. It extended 73 mi (118 km) from coast to coast, from Wallsend (Segedunum) to Bowness. It had towers, gates, and forts at regular intervals; a ditch fronted it and an earthwork (the vallum) ran behind it. It was briefly abandoned in favour of the Antonine Wall, but it returned to use until с 410. Portions remain visible today.

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▪ Roman wall, England, United Kingdom
continuous Roman (ancient Rome) defensive barrier that guarded the northwestern frontier of the province of Britain (United Kingdom) from barbarian invaders. The wall extended from coast to coast across the width of northern Britain; it ran for 73 miles (118 km) from Wallsend (Segedunum) (Wallsend) on the River Tyne (Tyne, River) in the east to Bowness on the Solway Firth in the west. The original plan was to construct a stone wall 10 Roman feet wide (a Roman foot is slightly larger than a standard foot) and at least 12 feet high for the eastern sector and a turf rampart 20 Roman feet wide at the base for the western sector; both were fronted by a ditch, except where the crags rendered this superfluous. At every 1/3 Roman mile there was a tower, and at every mile a fortlet (milefortlet, or milecastle) containing a gate through the wall, presumably surmounted by a tower, and one or two barrack-blocks. Before this scheme was completed, forts were built on the wall line at roughly 7-mile intervals and an earthwork, known as the vallum, dug behind the wall and the forts. Probably at this stage the stone wall was narrowed from 10 Roman feet wide to about 8 feet. The fortlets, towers, and forts continued for at least 26 miles (42 km) beyond Bowness southward down the Cumbrian coast.

 Emperor Hadrian (Hadrian) (ruled AD 117–138) went to Britain in 122 and, in the words of his biographer, “was the first to build a wall, 80 miles long, to separate the Romans from the barbarians.” The initial construction of the wall took approximately six years, and expansions were later made. Upon Hadrian's death, his successor Antoninus Pius (138–161) decided to extend the Roman dominion northward by building a new wall in Scotland. The resulting Antonine Wall stretched for 37 miles (59 km) along the narrow isthmus between the estuaries of the Rivers Forth and Clyde. Within two decades, however, the Antonine Wall was abandoned in favour of Hadrian's Wall, which continued in use nearly until the end of Roman rule in Britain (410).

 Hadrian's Wall was built mainly by soldiers of the three legions of Britain, but it was manned by the second-line auxiliary troops. Its purpose was to control movement across the frontier and to counter low-intensity threats. There was no intention of fighting from the wall top; the units based on the wall were trained and equipped to encounter the enemy in the open.

      In 1990–91 excavations of a milefortlet just north of Maryport, Cumbria, provided information on a Roman garrison's lifestyle. The fortlet, which was occupied for a short time during Hadrian's reign, rendered artifacts such as fragments of game boards and a large number of hearths and ovens. The fortlet has been partially reconstructed and made accessible to the public.

      In 1987 Hadrian's Wall was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Over the centuries many sections of the wall have suffered damage caused by roads traversing it and by the plunder of its stones to build nearby houses and other structures. However, the remaining foundations and forts attract tourists from throughout the world. Compare Great Wall of China.

David J. Breeze Ed.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hadrian's Wall — n. stone wall across N England, from Solway Firth to the Tyne: built (A.D. 122 128) by Hadrian to protect Roman Britain from N tribes: 73.5 mi (118.3 km) …   English World dictionary

  • Hadrian's Wall — This article is about the fortification in Northern England. For the Broad Wall of Jerusalem, see Broad Wall (Jerusalem). Coordinates: 55°01′27″N 2°17′33″W / 55.02417°N 2 …   Wikipedia

  • Hadrian's Wall — noun an ancient Roman wall built by Hadrian in the 2nd century; marked the northern boundary of the Roman Empire in Britain • Instance Hypernyms: ↑wall • Part Holonyms: ↑England * * * Hadrian’s Wall [Hadrians Wall] a wall in northern England… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Hadrian’s Wall — Sp Hadriãno siena Ap Hadrian’s Wall L ist. paminklas D. Britanijoje (Anglijoje) …   Pasaulio vietovardžiai. Internetinė duomenų bazė

  • Hadrian’s Wall — a wall in northern England built between 122 and 127 AD by the Roman emperor Hadrian, from Wallsend on the River Tyne to Bowness on the Solway Firth. It was the northern border of the Roman Empire, from which the Romans could keep back the Picts …   Universalium

  • Hadrian's Wall — Ha|dri|an s Wall a stone wall which the Roman ↑emperor Hadrian ordered to be built across the north of England in 122 AD from the east coast to the west, in order to defend Roman Britain from attack by northern tribes such as the Picts …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Hadrian's Wall — Ha′drian s Wall′ n. anh why a wall of defense for the Roman province of Britain, built by Hadrian between Solway Firth and the mouth of the Tyne …   From formal English to slang

  • Hadrian's Wall — /ˈheɪdriənz/ (say haydreeuhnz) noun a wall of defence for the Roman province of Britain, constructed by Hadrian between the Solway Firth arm of the Irish Sea and the mouth of the Tyne, north eastern England …   Australian English dictionary

  • Hadrian's Wall — noun A fortification of stone and timber built by the Roman Empire across the width of what is now northern England …   Wiktionary

  • Hadrian's Wall Path — Infobox Hiking trail Name=Hadrian s Wall Path Photo=Hadrians wall craigs.jpg|thumb|200px|] Caption=Crag Lough, near Steel Rigg on the Path Location=England: Tyne and Wear, Northumberland, Cumbria Designation=National Trail Length=Convert|84|mi|0… …   Wikipedia

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