Located at the far-flung and wild edge of the Roman Empire, Hadrian’s Wall was constructed by Emperor Hadrian in the 120s AD. Vast in size and stretching from the east to the west coast of the northern part of Britannia, it is the largest monument left by the Roman empire – all the more striking because it lies so far from Rome. Today, it is one of the most visited heritage sites in the country.
Yet the story of the Wall is far more than the development of a line of fortifications and the defence of a troublesome imperial frontier. Generation after generation of soldiers served there, with their families as well as traders and other foreign and local civilians in and around the army bases. The glimpses of this vibrant, multinational community in Adrian Goldsworthy’s masterly book bring the bare stones to life. Goldsworthy also considers why and how the wall was built, and discusses the fascinating history, afterlife and archaeology of this unique ancient monument.