Hadrian’s Wall Timeline

Early Hadrian’s Wall : AD 122 to 185

Hadrian’s Wall was constructed in 122AD. It was 80 miles long, six metres high, three metres wide and built of stone. Its defences were supplemented by turrets, ditches, milecastles and 16 forts each holding 500 to 1,000 men. Those men were sometimes recruited locally, but came from all parts of the Roman Empire including Spain, Switzerland, Germania, and even North Africa.

Hadrian's Wall Whin Sill
The crags of the Great Whin Sill were utilised as part of Hadrian’s Walls defences © David Simpson

👈 Conquest AD43 | Timeline3rd century 👉

122 – Hadrian visits the North

Hadrian, Emperor of Rome, has visited northern Britain after increasing concern over tribal revolts. He has ordered the construction of a great defensive wall to separate the Romans from the Barbarians.

126 – Hadrian’s Wall complete

Most of Hadrian’s Wall has been constructed. Many of the early forts along the wall face south into Brigantian territory, a recognition of the great threat that still exists from this large northern tribe.

Map of Hadrian's Wall
Map of Hadrian’s Wall © David Simpson and Tangled Worm 2019

128 – Roman supply port at South Shields

Arbeia, a Roman fort, has been built at South Shields. It will serve as a sea port and supply base for Hadrians Wall.

Roman gatehouse at Arbeia
Reconstruction of Roman gatehouse at Arbeia © David Simpson.

142 – Advance North

The Romans advance northward once again to the Forth-Clyde region. The fort at Corbridge is reconstructed and the great fort at Newstead (Trimontium) near the River Tweed is rebuilt.

Eildon Hills from Carter Bar
The Roman fort of Trimontium was named from the three peaks of the Eildon Hills which are pictured here from Carter Bar © David Simpson

142 – Antonine Wall

Emperor Antonius Pius has ordered the construction of a new defensive wall in North Britain (the Antonine Wall) to stretch from the River Forth to the River Clyde. Hadrian’s Wall still remains in use but has become more open.

154 – Antonine Wall abandoned

A major uprising by the Brigantes against the Romans has forced the abandonment of the Antonine Wall. The Brigantian rebellion, crushed by the Romans, is centred on the Brigantes’ new tribal capital of Aldborough near Boroughbridge. The territory of the Brigantes gradually shrinks through the creation of new tribal centres called ‘Civitates’ created by the Romans at Corbridge and Carlisle, as well as the Civitate at Aldborough.

160 – Romans take back Antonine Wall

The Romans have once again advanced north and re-established control of the Antonine Wall. A new Roman fort is being built at Chester-le-Street  where a Roman road runs north to the bridge over the River Tyne at Pons Aelius (Newcastle).

163 – Hadrian’s Wall restored

Commencing around AD 158 Hadrian’s Wall has been extensively restored following recent tribal unrest. Reconstruction of forts along the wall has been extensive.

Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian’s Wall ascends the steep Great Whin Sill near Carvoran © David Simpson

165 – Antonine Wall abandoned again

The Antonine Wall has been abandoned again following tribal unrest and the death of the Emperor Antonius. The recent restoration of Hadrian’s Wall appears wise.

180 – Roman General killed in North revolt

A Roman General (possibly Caerellius Priscus) has been killed after tribes from the north crossed the wall in yet another revolt. A military campaign under the new Roman Governor Ulpius Marcellus ensues against the northern tribes.

180 – Civilian city at York

The civilian settlement at York is growing rapidly to the south west of the River Ouse.

185 – Troops withdrawn from Tweed

Roman troops are withdrawn from the great fort at Newstead (Trimontium) near the Tweed and other forts in the area that will be known in much later times as the Scottish lowlands.

👈 Conquest AD43 | 3rd century 👉

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