Description of Hadrian’s Wall

As first planned, the Wall consisted of a wall of stone or turf fronted by a wide and deep ditch. The original plan was for a guarded gate (milecastle) every mile, with two observation towers (turrets) in between. Before work was completed, 14 new forts were added, together with an earthwork known as the Vallum to the south.

Hadrians Wall west of Housesteads Fort, looking east

Hadrian’s Wall west of Housesteads Fort, looking east

What Survives

The surviving remains of Hadrian’s Wall consist not just of the Wall itself, but a variety of associated elements:

  • forts and civil settlements
  • milecastles and turrets
  • towers
  • bridges
  • temples
  • the ditch with an upcast mound to the north
  • the forts, milefortlets and towers of the Cumbrian coast
  • the Vallum earthwork with its causeways and crossings
  • the road known as the Military Way along the Wall and the Stanegate to the south
  • earlier and contemporary forts along the Stanegate.

All these sit within a wide contemporary Roman military landscape containing at least five forts to the north and many as far south as the legionary bases at York and Chester, and indeed beyond.

Where to See It

Follow the links for details of English Heritage sites. Sites are listed from west to east. 

     

The Wall Itself 

The Wall itself survives mainly in the central sector from Black Carts turret (T29a) to Banks East turret (T52a), including the stretches maintained by English Heritage at:

Further east there are stretches of Wall at Heddon and Planetrees.

View across one of the granaries at Housesteads Roman Fort

View looking east across one of the granaries at Housesteads Roman Fort

Forts

  • Maryport (earthworks only)
  • Birdoswald
  • Carvoran
  • Great Chesters
  • Vindolanda
  • Housesteads
  • Carrawburgh (earthworks only)
  • Chesters
  • Newcastle
  • Wallsend
  • South Shields
Harrows Scar Milecastle

Harrows Scar Milecastle

Milecastles

Part or all of nine milecastles, and one milefortlet on the Cumbrian coast, are visible (others survive as earthworks). They are numbered from east to west.

    

Turrets

Sixteen turrets are visible (also numbered from east to west):

    

Towers

The bridge abutment at Chesters, part of a large road bridge built in about AD 160 to carry the Military Way over the river North Tyne

The bridge abutment at Chesters, part of a large road bridge built in about AD 160 to carry the Military Way over the river North Tyne

Bridges

    

Ditch

The ditch is intermittently visible from Wallhouses (MC18) to Garthside (T54a).

    

Vallum

    

Roads

The Military Way and the Stanegate are visible at some places in the central sector.

    

Civil Settlements

One of the military compounds at Corbridge

One of the military compounds at Corbridge, in the centre of the town

Temples

    

Military Base

   

READ MORE ABOUT HADRIAN’S WALL

DOWNLOAD A PLAN OF HADRIAN’S WALL

   

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