|Stretching 120 kms. (Seventy-three miles), or eighty
Roman miles, coast to coast across the narrowest part of Northern England - from Wallsend
on the River Tyne in the East to Bowness-on-Solway in the west - Hadrian's Wall was
largely completed by AD 130.
Named after the
emperor, who ordered its construction in 122, it was originally three metres (nine feet)
wide and up to six metres (twenty feet) high, including a parapet to the north. At every
Roman mile along its length, the builders - mostly legionaries -constructed a small guard
post, or milecastle. A turret, sited every third of a Roman mile between each milecastle,
served as a signal or lookout post.
Shortly after Hadrian's death in 138 his successor, the
Emperor Antonius Pius, ordered the construction of a new wall almost 160 kms. (100 miles)
further north. Known as the Antonine Wall, it was abandoned in about 162, leaving
Hadrian's Wall - with its formidable series of defensive ditches and mounds - the
north-western frontier of the Roman Empire until the final withdrawal of the legions from
Britain in 410.