Photographs

1. Chesters Fort

2. The remains of the vicus at Vindolanda

3. How the Wall might have looked – the reconstruction at Vindolanda

4. Barcombe Hill behind Vindolanda

5. Housesteads Fort

6. The south-west corner of Housesteads Fort, rebuilt in part by John Clayton’s masons

7. Buildings beyond Housesteads Fort

8. The only section of the Wall where walking is permitted, west of Housesteads Fort

9. Sycamore Gap

10. Part of the central section looking towards Crag Lough and Hotbank Farm

11. Stones for the arch at milecastle 37

12. The Whin Sill and the central section

13. Wall foundations with a dyke built from Roman stone in the central section

14. A detail of the Wall

15. The steep gradient on the Whin Sill

16. Detail of the Wall near Housesteads

17. The quarry at Walltown, which took a bite out of the Wall

18. The rubble core of the Wall at Walltown

19. The early turret at Walltown Crags

20. Milecastle, near Birdoswald

21. An impressive run of Wall east of Birdoswald

22. Birdoswald Fort. The timber posts mark the location of the post-Roman hall

23. Turret at Birdoswald

24. Poltross Burn milecastle, near Birdoswald. The railway runs very close (on the left-hand side).

Massive defences were a common feature throughout the Roman Empire. Linear barriers such as Hadrian’s Wall, however, were not typical, although remains in Roman Syria, at Rasafa and Halabiya for example, give a good impression of how the Wall might have appeared in its heyday. The following pictures illustrate a number of features which would have formed part of Hadrian’s Wall but which are better preserved elsewhere, including the inevitable back-up systems such as roads and garrison towns that were integral to the maintenance of frontier defences.

25. Dura Europos was a garrison city, originally settled by veterans of Alexander the Great’s army, and shares many characteristics with the Northumberland garrisons: barracks, a praetorium, a Mithraeum and – like Vindolanda – preserved documents

26. Gonio, on the Black Sea coast in Georgia, boasts probably the most intact legionary fort in the entire Empire, where it is still possible to walk the entire circuit of the parapet

27. A better impression of how Hadrian’s Wall might have appeared in its heyday is given by the massive frontier defences along the Euphrates frontier in Syria, such as Halabiya, part of a hugely elaborate – and expensive – system of military works built mainly in the later empire to defend against the Persians

28. At Halabiya on the Euphrates, the superbly built stone praetorium is still preserved to a height of three storeys

29. A combination of desert conditions and superb masonry has also meant that the deserts of Syria and Jordan are still littered with well-preserved Roman frontier forts, such as that at Hallabat in Jordan

30. Relatively modest frontier baths such as those at Chesters or South Shields would hardly have resembled the huge elaborate multi-sports complexes found in the cities, but more the smaller ones such as the Hunting Baths at Leptis Magna in Libya, wonderfully preserved right up to roof level by sand dunes

31. In the drier conditions of the East grain was more usually stored in underground silos. The most impressive underground storage facilities were the immense cisterns such as Rasafa, resembling the nave of an underground cathedral

32. The defence of the frontiers depended as much upon the rapid deployment of troops as the fortifications themselves, hence good quality military roads were essential – built, maintained and used almost solely by the army. A magnificent stretch of Roman road sweeps across the hills for miles behind Tarsus in Turkey

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