The most famous of all the frontiers of the Roman empire, Hadrian’s Wall is a stunning and impressive World Heritage Site. At 73 miles (80 Roman miles) long, it crossed northern Britain from Wallsend on the River Tyne in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in the west. Built on the orders of Emperor Hadrian following his visit to Britain in AD 122, it was the north-west frontier of the Roman Empire for 300 years. The inscription on the Ilam pan, a 2nd-century souvenir of Hadrian’s Wall found in 2003, suggests that it was called the _vallum Aelii_ , Aelius being Hadrian’s family name. The building of Hadrian’s Wall probably began in AD122, and took at least six years to complete. The original plan was for a wall of stone or turf, with a guarded gate every mile and two observation towers in between, and fronted by a wide, deep ditch. Before work was completed, 14 forts were added, followed by an earthwork known as the Vallum to the south. After the forts had been added, the width of the
Wall was narrowed to 8 Roman feet (2.4 metres) or less and the standard of craftsmanship reduced, both presumably in order to speed work. Hadrian’s Wall was built by the army of Britain, as many inscriptions
demonstrate. The three legions of regular, trained troops in Britain, each consisting of about 5,000 heavily armed infantrymen, provided the main body of men building the Wall, but they were assisted by the auxiliary units – the other main branch of the provincial army – and even the British fleet. The troops based in the forts and milecastles of the Wall were mostly recruited from the north-western provinces of the Roman empire, though some were from further afield.
Permanent conquest of Britain began in AD 43. The Romans ventured all over Scotland, and probably held territory in many areas for about 80 years.
The>The original plan was for a wall of stone or turf, with a guarded gate every mile and two observation towers in between, and fronted by a wide, deep ditch. Before work was completed, 14 forts were added, followed by an earthwork known as the Vallum to the south. The forts, each built for a single military Company and at a basic spacing of 7⅓ miles, were placed astride the Wall wherever possible. This allowed three main gates, each with two entrances, making the equivalent of six milecastle gates, to provide access to the north; the double-portal south gate was supplemented by two small side gates. The position of the forts and the provision of so many gates provide evidence for the extensive use of cavalry as well as footsoldiers. The three main legions consisted of about 5000 foot soldiers and these were assisted by the Roman fleet at either end.
The emperor Antoninus Pius abandoned Hadrian’s Wall and moved the frontier up to the Forth–Clyde (Edinburgh>
A major war took place shortly after AD 180, but> By 306 AD the Emperor Constantius Chlorus was forced to subdue his northern frontier in the face of Pictish attacks on Hadrian’s>. The Picts’ name first appears in 297 AD and comes from the Latin Picti, literally ‘painted people’. They were largely Iron-Age family Clans (tribes). Some became Romanised and their leader, Urbicus led the final defeat of the Roman from Corbridge in 297AD. At the same time the Gaelic-speaking Scoti tribes who had settled from Ireland filled the power vacuum.