The Purpose of Hadrian's Wall Essay

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The Purpose of Hadrian's Wall

In 1600, William Camden, an Elizabethan antiquarian, was the first person to seriously attempt an explanation as to the purpose of what we now refer to as Hadrian's Wall. In the 18th century, further antiquarians, concerned with the steady demolition of the wall for building materials continued further studies. Despite the interest in the wall, it was nearly a century after William Camden's first attempts to explain the wall that serious academic research was mixed with archaeological excavations on a large scale. It was with thanks t these original excavations that we now have a fairly deep understanding of the wall itself. However, its purpose is still undecided
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The Emperor Hadrian himself visited Briton and decided that though the conquest of the Picts would be no trouble for the Roman war machine, the mountainous terrain would prove impossible for complete subjugation of them. This would prove to be a "formidable and unprofitable task". Therefore, the Emperor Hadrian ordered the construction of a massive monument to himself in the form of the wall, a division between the barbarians in the north and provincials in the south. Some have suggested that it may have been influenced by the Great Wall of China (due to its appearance and function), but there is absolutely no evidence for this.

The wall was definitely built by Roman legionaries, indicated by archaeological evidence found at sites (most obvious being the stamp of the legions on buildings) but was manned exclusively by auxiliaries and possibly numeri (irregular units). Sixteen forts were located along the wall and could easily accommodate whole auxiliary units, around 500 to 1000 men (In Stanwix, the largest fort along the wall, there are speculations that a military cavalry unit was stationed here (Ala Petriana), the only one in Britain). Between the forts ran mile castles and turrets, but as to the question of

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