EBK Activity Sheets


Hadrian's Wall
Wonder of Ancient Britain

Hadrian's Wall -  Nash Ford Publishing

  • By about AD 105, the Romans pulled out of Pictish Caledonia (Scotland). The border of Britannia was set between Coria (Corbridge) and Luguvalium (Carlisle).
  • In AD 122, the Emperor Hadrian visited Britain and decided to build a big wall of stone with deep ditches along the border at this point. It was called Hadrian's Wall.
    • The western part was wooden at first.
    • It was 117km long, 4.5m tall and between 1.75 & 3m thick.
    • It went both up over craggy mountains and down through flat valleys.
    • It would keep the Picts out of Britannia.
  • In the AD 140s, the Emperor Antoninus Pius sent his armies back into Caledonia. They built a 2nd wooden wall with big earth banks between the River Clyde and Forth. It was called the Antonine Wall; but they only stayed 20 years. Then Hadrian's Wall became the border again.
  • Hadrian's Wall was built by the legions. It was garrisoned by auxiliary units. The numbers of soldiers on the Wall fluctuated (went up and down) over the years.
  • The soldiers lived in forts, milecastles and turrets built along the Wall:
    • There were 16 forts along the Wall, and 5 supply forts just to the south. Each one could house a whole cohort.
    • Every Roman mile (about 1.5km), there was a milecastle. These could house up to 64 soldiers, but usually had less.
    • There were 2 turrets between each pair of milecastles. These were garrisoned by 4 soldiers. They were like 2-storeyed castle towers. Downstairs was for cooking and storage. Upstairs was for sleeping. The roof was the lookout station.
    • Beacons could be lit to warn of attacks from the Picts. The signal could then be sent along the Wall from turret to turret.
  • In the late 4th century, a Roman commander in Britain called Magnus Maximus thought he should be Emperor. So he took a lot of the soldiers from the Wall to Europe to help him.
  • After that, local soldiers tried to protect it, led by tribal warlords. The Wall fell into disrepair though and there were many attacks by the Picts.


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