Hadrian’s Wall Asia Zhang
Born on January 24, 76 CE,
Publius Aelius Hadrianus
, later named Caesar
Traianus Hadrianus Augustus, was destined to become emperor. He was the son of an expraetor, a cousin of the future Roman emperor, Trajan. When his father died, Trajan and Attianus became his legal guardians and took him under his wing. He became quaestor in 101 CE and eventually was elected consul in 108 CE. With the help of his former guardian Attianus, Hadrian succeeded Trajan as emperor after his death. As emperor, Hadrian spent more time traveling throughout the empire than any other emperor and worked hard to unify and consolidate the empire. He was “a brilliant administrator who concerned himself with all aspects of government and the administration of justice”(Mark).
He rebuilt the Pantheon, constructed the Temple of
Venus and Roma, and established cities. But of all his amazing feats, Hadrian’s Wall is the most notorious one.
Thanks to the empireexpanding Trajan, the Romans had now conquered territories from Southern England to North Africa. The empire had become so large that it had become increasingly hard to maintain and protect it. The south of england had been conquered by the Romans but a restless tribe called the Picts still occupied the
North. Hadrian had installed new policies to maintain the empire rather than extend them. He had a new strategy of consolidation; to restore the problematic regions of the empire. It is believed that the plans for the construction of the wall were in place prior to
Hadrian’s visit to Britain in 122 CE and maybe even construction had already begun before the date assigned for the initial work on the wall, possibly as early as 118 CE.
The wall would separate the Romans from the “Barbarians” and would not only prevent movement of the “Barbarians” but also control it.
The wall, spanning 73 miles in length (80 Roman miles), 1620 feet in height, and
9.7 feet in width, marked the northern extent of the Roman Empire. Built across one of the narrowest parts of England, the wall ran from Wallsend in the east to Bowness on the SolwayFirth. The wall was built by the Roman soldiers who were skilled in building roads and buildings. The Roman army also had its own engineers who designed the wall. The wall was began in the east with stone but finished in the west with turf, allowing it to be built more quickly. Sixteen large forts were built into the wall at regular intervals [inside which] lived between 500 and 1000 soldiers. 80 milecastles were built along the wall – a castle for every Roman mile. Roman soldiers used these milecastles as a gateway to patrol the northern wall. It also controlled people who passed through it and could house up to 60 troops . Small towers, called turrets, that extended over the wall were built at regular intervals between milecastles. These structures would aid in the surveillance of the entire length of the border. A
, a ditch constructed of earthworks, ran parallel to the north side of the wall. It measured 20 feet wide and 10 feet deep and ensured that it could only be crossed under Roman supervision. As a result of the growing population of soldiers along the wall, settlements were built around the forts and trading centers were established. This great wall was a breathtaking reflection of Rome and all its power.
After Hadrian’s death, the new Emperor Antoninus Pius abandoned Hadrian’s wall as an outpost and built a new wall positioned further to the north, called the
Antonine Wall. Historians believe that “the wall was constructed to serve the same purpose as Hadrian’s wall but is thought to have functioned more pragmatically than the earlier construct.” (Sheehan). Under Emperor Marcus…