Hadrian’s Wall continues to intrigue seasoned archaeologists and historians alike, with new discoveries and archaeological finds a regular occurrence. Now, a new manual from Haynes sheds light on Britain’s largest, most spectacular historic monument.
This impressive Roman World Heritage Site was both a land wall that ran 73 miles from east to west, and a sea wall stretching at least 26 miles down the Cumbrian coast. The Hadrian’s Wall Operations Manual traces the concept, construction and purpose of the wall, as well as how it was built, who worked on it and the lives lived on and around it.
Telling the story of Hadrian’s Wall with the help of outstanding aerial photographs that give an up to date bird’s-eye view of the course of the wall, the manual devotes two whole chapters to surveying the wall mile-by-mile, plotting every visible and hidden detail.
Using a range of illustrations – photographs, maps and artwork – the manual also explores the lives of the Romans who populated the area and explores where they came from, what they wore, what they ate and how they experienced daily life on Rome’s northernmost frontier.
The launch of this latest manual from Haynes comes hot on the heels of the renovation of both the Birdoswald Roman Fort and the Corbridge Roman Town, which reopened this April.
The book also includes details of the extraordinary finds at Vindolanda, where a new purpose-built gallery features some remarkable archaeological finds of sandals, weapons, writing tablets, uniform remnants, eating implements and personal effects.
Author Simon Forty said: “Given that the wall was built nearly 1900 years ago, its substantial remains are testament to a major feat of engineering comparable to anything else in the Roman world. This manual sets out to provide an accessible account of why it was built and how it was used.
“For example, many might not be aware that its forts’ footprints are as large as many medieval castles, and with its mile towers, barracks and vici – the settlements that grew up around the forts – the archaeology of the extended site allows an astonishingly rich insight into Roman frontier life. It took three legions – 15,000 men – six years or so to complete and it was used for 300 years by the Romans before many of its buildings were repurposed by the local inhabitants. That repurposing included using the wall as a source of dressed stone: today less than 10 percent of it is in situ, but much of the rest can be seen in local buildings!”
Simon concludes: “Now’s a particularly exciting time to visit Hadrian’s Wall – especially following the discovery of a number of outstanding archaeological finds at Vindolanda – but for wonderful walking, wild countryside and spectacular views, it’s always worth a visit.”
Illustrated with specially commissioned aerial photography, enhanced with close-up details, and augmented with cutaway artworks of interiors and reconstructions, Haynes’ latest manual is a comprehensive historical guide to Hadrian’s Wall.