What is Hadrian’s wall and why was it built?
Hadrian’s Wall represented a frontier’s edge for the Roman Empire.
Moreover, this frontier or buffer if you will. Provided protection from barbarian tribes and enemies. Furthermore, the wall became a base for military units. However, the Wall was also a lasting monument to Emperor Hadrian. An emperor whose value of peace and stability far outweighed any desire for military expansion or personal glory.
Ordnance Survey map of Hadrian’s Wall, published in 1964.
Hadrian ruled Rome from AD 117 until AD 138. His family was Spanish. However, he lived his life in Rome. But, spent his reign travelling across his Empire.
But was the wall the “end of the line” for the empire’s rule? No.
Moreover, the idea of Hadrian’s Wall being the “end of the world” is a Scottish National myth. Some of the highest concentrations of Roman marching camps are in northern Scotland.
Agricola thought all of Scotland was conquered half a century before Hadrian after his victory at Mons Graupius.
A second wall would be built further north between the Firths of Forth and Clyne, the Antonine Wall. Though it was never made into stone. You can still walk the outline of it. It was around 43 miles while Hadrians is around 78.
In the early third century Septimius Severus thought he too had annexed Caledonia after his Scottish victories.
Each time internal pressures caused the Romans to look back to the center rather than out to the fringes. This, coupled with the difficult highland terrain and lack of resources, meant Caledonia was never annexed.
When Rome came to the point of collapse in the west, it was tribes from beyond the Rhine and Danube that caused it. While Britannia was being overrun by the angles and Saxons and Caledonia by the migrating Scots from Hibernia (Ireland).