Discover Hadrian's Wall, the 73 mile Roman in Northern England
Discover Hadrian's Wall, the ancient frontier of Roman Britain, the barrier that allowed two cultures to develop separately and unite 1,700 years later to become the United Kingdom.
It must have seemed an impossible challenge to the Roman government and Emperor to conquer Britain. To invade yes, but then to secure the borders and let it thrive is another matter. Engineering on a monumental scale was the answer, roads, forts and walls.
Touring the length of the Roman Wall will give you a sense of amazement at the ability of the invaders, all without mechanical equipment. The area is particularly pretty, with varying greens and lots of little villages and pub stops.
Hadrian's Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
A brief history of Hadrian's Wall
The "Wall" - Very Game of Thrones
Under the orders of Emperor Claudius, a Roman army of 40,000 professional soldiers invaded Britain. Some historians' will tell you the invasion force included elephants; imagine elephants wading across the River Thames. Britain was a tribal island, the defeat of the British, would require victory over every tribe. One by one, each faction fell to the legions.
Britain was always a strange and exotic place in the Roman imagination. To them, it was a cold misty land on the edge of the known world, and the people were great warriors, and they painted their faces blue. The invaders bit the bullet and arrived. It took years of brutal conflict to bring the whole of modern-day England and tiny parts of Wales and the borders of modern Scotland under control. It was a huge investment in lives and money. Emperor Claudius had proved his worth.
Protecting the prize
Securing the borders was the next task. The orders now come from Emperor Hadrian. Plans were drawn up for a wall to secure the northern boundary of the empire. The wall was to connect the west and east coast of Britannia. To do this, they had to survey the coast to establish the narrowest part of the country and most strategic points at which to start building.
The Romans built a 73-mile long wall at 15 ft high; it is the entire width of northern Britain - England did not exist at this point. The Romans built small forts or mile-castles at mile intervals along the whole length with larger fortifications at five-mile intervals. Construction took two years, and the route covers extremely rugged and difficult terrain, making it an engineering marvel.
Some of the ruined old forts have the remains of shops or pubs; I expect it was thirsty work manning the wall - other forts housed garrisons of up to 500 soldiers.
Touring and accommodation
Our driver-guides will select a well preserved rugged section of the wall for you to explore. Housesteads Fort is the best kept, and the guide will give you an impression of what life was like on the wall. Vindolanda is a site of several forts and also has a museum. It will depend on your level interest as to what we or your driver-guides suggests, in any event, your day tour is flexible.
You can visit Hadrian's wall from York in a day, in which case we would recommend staying at the Grand York. We also have a database of simpler luxury pub accommodation, which is a real, local experience. It is possible to leave York in the morning tour the Northumberland Coast, Hadrian's Wall and make it to Edinburgh by around 5 pm. Please, browse our selection of suggested Tours of England.
Another place of interest near to Hadrian's Wall is the historic City of Durham. The university city is famed for its Norman Cathedral with the shrine to St Cuthbert. It is possible to leave York, drive to Durham for morning tea and enjoy a guided tour of the Cathedral, have lunch and continue to Hadrian's Wall for a short tour before heading north to Edinburgh.
If this is your first time to England, we would recommend a custom version of our Town and Country Tour; it covers the famous places and allows you to utilise your private driver-guide by getting-off-the-beaten-path. Our Classic tour of Ireland is a good place to start for the first trip to Ireland, and we suggest the Classic tour of Scotland for your first trip to the bonny Highlands.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Explore the ancient Rome's northern frontier
- 73 Miles Long
- Visit the Forts and Museums
- Flexible Touring on the Day
- Drive the Northumberland National Park
The Wall is within the Northumberland National Park
Hike the Wall
Stroll a Section of the Wall
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