Hadrian's Wall (1987)
Great Britain

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Built on the orders of the Emperor Hadrian c. A.D. 122 at the northernmost limits of the Roman province of Britannia, the 118-km-long wall is a striking example of the organization of a military zone. It is a good illustration of the defensive techniques and geopolitical strategies of ancient Rome. 

This site is part of the transnational property "Frontiers of the Roman Empire". Eventually see the German property Frontiers of the Roman Empire (on this site). 

Grerat Britain 2005. World Cultural Heritage. Hadrian's Wall. Great Britain 1993. World Cultural Heritage. Bronze head of Emperor Hadrian, found in the River Thames.

Hadrianís Wall is an ancient Roman stone and masonry wall, constructed to protect the northern boundary of Roman Britain against hostile tribes. Emperor Hadrian of Rome ordered its construction around ad 122. The wall extended 117 km (73 mi) from Solway Firth to the mouth of the Tyne River and was about 6 m (about 20 ft) high and about 2.4 m (about 8 ft) wide. A military road ran along the south side of the wall, and a series of heavily garrisoned forts and sentry posts were built along its length. The wall also marked the frontier of Roman civil jurisdiction. A few sections of Hadrian's Wall remain standing in present-day Great Britain.  It is rightfully considered one of the greatest monuments to the power -- and limitations -- of the Roman Empire. 

Great Britain 1993. Booklet cover, showing a drawing of Hadrian's Wall.

Please note that there were three books with covers in the 'Roman series' but, because of their content, were included in two different book series. Two of them (Roman Theatre of Verulamium, St. Albans, and Portchester Castle, Hampshire) were for the old style book dispensing machines (formerly F2, H and J machines) and the other (Hadrian) were for the 'new' K machines. The content of the books also differed along with the machine type. All very confusing but the pictures will tell a much clearer story! Since the images on latter two booklets are unimportant in the context of "Hadrian's Wall", I have not included them here, but should you want to see them, please contact me by email. Information by courtesy of Mr. Gerry Fisk (Great Britain). 

At the time of Julius Ceasar's first small invasion of the south coast of Britain in 55 BC, the British Isles, like much of mainland Europe was inhabited by many Celtic tribes loosely united by a similar language and culture but nevertheless each distinct. He returned the next year and encountered the 4000 war chariots of the Catevellauni in a land "protected by forests and marshes, and filled with a great number of men and cattle." He defeated the Catevellauni and then withdrew, though not before establishing treaties and alliances. Thus began the Roman occupation of Britain. 

Nearly 100 years later, in 43 AD, the Emperor Claudius sent Aulus Plautius and about 24,000 soldiers to Britain, this time to establish control under a military presence.

Great Britain 1993. World Cultural Heritage. Emperor Claudius on a gold coin, found at Bredgar.

Although subjugation of southern Britain proceeded fairly smoothly by a combination of military might and clever diplomacy, and by 79 AD what is now England and Wales were firmly under control, the far North remained a problem. 

However, the Emperor Vespasian decided that what is now Scotland should also be incorporated into the Roman Empire. 

  • Great Britain 1993.  Emperor Claudius depicted on a contemporary gold coin, found at Bredgar. Stamp number 1 in a set of four in the series "Roman Britain". 

Under his instructions the governor of Britian, Julius Agricola, subdued the Southern Scottish tribal clans, the Selgovae, Novantae and Votadini by 81 AD. Further to the North lived loose associations of clans known collectively as the Caledonians. Agricola tried to provoke them into battle by marching an army into the Highlands eventually forcing a battle with the Caledonian leader Calgacus in present day Aberdeenshire at a place called Mons Graupius. 30,000 Caledonians were killed, but the Roman victory was a hollow one, for the next day the surviving clansmen melted away into the hills, and were to remain fiercely resistant and independent.

By the time Hadrian became Emperor in 117 AD the Roman Empire had ceased to expand. 

Hadrian was concerned to consolidate his boundaries. He visited Britain in 122 AD, and ordered a wall to be built between the Solway Firth in the West and the River Tyne in the east "to separate Romans from Barbarians". 

  • The map shows the extension of the Roman Empire at the time of Emperor Hadrian. Hadrian's Wall is roughly dividing present day's England from Scotland. 

The Roman Empire

Plenty of remnants and archeological finds from the time Hadrian and Claudius are continuously found throughout Europe, and some European cities can even boast of being named after Hadrian. An example is Edirne, located in the European part of Turkey, and formerly known as Adrianopolis.  

The Castle of St. Angelo in Rome on the banks of the Tiber, was formerly the mausoleum of Emperor Hadrian. 

Other World Heritage Sites in Great Britain (on this site). Inactive links are not described on postage stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, United Kingdom Section, for further information about the individual properties. 

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Revised 19 jul 2007  
Copyright © 1999 Heindorffhus 
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