A Line Through Time: The Story of Hadrian's Wall


Hadrian’s Wall is one of the premier archaeological monuments of Britain. As such, it continues to attract the very latest in cutting-edge research, with new studies produced every year, leading to ever-changing interpretations of what it meant to the lives of people living in its forts and in its hinterland.

As the monument is explored in ever-increasing detail, new stories and perspectives have emerged that challenge us to re-think our understanding of this physical frontier. This event explores the very latest research on Hadrian’s Wall, examining how and why it was built, the ritual and religious practices that took place along its length, what happened to the wall following the end of Roman Britain, and the management of the Wall’s archaeological remains.


Hadrian’s Wall: creating division (Dr Matt Symonds)

Why was Hadrian’s Wall built and what function did it serve? Nuanced readings of the various installations of the Wall have encouraged more sophisticated understandings of the cultural and physical landscape by Roman authorities at the time of the Wall’s construction. General re-evaluation of the role and function of the Wall in Roman Britain will be subject of this first introductory talk.

Geological sourcing and selection of the ‘wall’s bones’ (Dr Ian Kille)

The stone construction of the Wall required intelligent exploration of the terrain between the North Sea and the Solway Firth, locating geological sources that were suitable for monumental construction. These sources and a detailed investigation of the stones that built the Wall have been a focus of Dr Ian Kille’s research who will relate his latest findings in this talk.

Ash and stone: death, burial, and commemoration at Birdoswald (Tony Wilmott and Prof Ian Haynes

The Roman fort of Birdoswald has been the focus of new excavations conducted by Historic England and Newcastle University, exploring the buildings and communities that lived outside the walls of the fort. Initial results of that work focusing on archaeological traces of ritual practices  will be reported in this talk.

All that’s left of a goddess? Insights into Roman belief from Coventina’s Well (Ayesha Purcell)

A diversity of gods were worshipped and commemorated along the Wall’s length, with the shrine of Coventina revealing a curious assemblage of religious and related artefacts deposited in the holy well of the shrine. These small metal finds, altars, and other objects reveal facets of life beyond the daily rituals of soldiers.

The Wall after Rome (Dr Rob Collins)

The Wall’s survival today is due to the uses (and abuses) of the monument in the centuries after the fall of Roman rule in Britain. While not initially abandoned, the post-Roman life of the Wall is complex. It shaped and divided use of land, as well as provided a source of stone for the fabric of churches, castles, and farmhouses. In short, the wall was literally and metaphorically foundational to the formation of the modern Tyne-Solway isthmus.

Hadrian’s Wall as heritage-at-risk: insights from fieldwork (Dr Jane Harrison)

While the Wall has endured into the present, it is not immune to danger. Various threats have been identified that could significantly reduce or destroy the archaeology and heritage of Hadrian’s Wall. The work of the Hadrian’s Wall Community Archaeology Project (WallCAP) has endeavoured to better understand and where possible, redress these threats.

Programme details

9.45am: Registration

10.00am: Hadrian’s Wall – Creating Division, Dr Matt Symonds  

11.00am: Coffee/tea

11.15am: Geological sourcing and selection of the ‘Wall’s bones’, Dr Ian Kille (Community Geologist, WallCAP)

12.00pm: Ash and Stone – death, burial, and commemoration at Birdoswald, Tony Wilmott/Prof Ian Haynes

12.45pm: Lunch

2.00pm: All that’s left of a goddess? Insights into Roman belief from Coventina’s Well, Ayesha Purcell 

2.45pm: The Wall after Rome, Dr Rob Collins (Project Manager, WallCAP)

3.30pm: Coffee/tea

4.00pm: Hadrian’s Wall as Heritage-At-Risk: Insights from Fieldwork, Dr Jane Harrison (Community Archaeologist, WallCAP)

5.00pm: Course disperses


Description Costs
Tuition - in-person attendance £80.00
Tuition - virtual attendance £80.00
Baguette £5.50
Hot Lunch (3 courses) £15.50


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

If you do not qualify for the concessionary fee but are experiencing financial hardship, you may still be eligible for financial assistance.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Jane Harrison


Departmental Lecturer in Archaeology, OUDCE/ Research Member of the Common Room, Kellogg College

Dr Matthew Symonds


Editor, Current World Archaeology

Dr Ian Kille


Community Geologist, WallCAP

Miss Ayesha Purcell


Project Archaeologist, York Archaeological Trust

Dr Robert Collins

Course Director and Speaker

Senior Lecturer in Archaeology, Newcastle University 

Prof Ian Haynes


Professor of Archaeology, Newcastle University


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.


Accommodation is not included in the price, but if you wish to stay with us the night before the course, then please contact our Residential Centre.

Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email res-ctr@conted.ox.ac.uk for details of availability and discounted prices.

IT requirements

You can opt to attend this hybrid teaching event either online (via a livestream) or in person at Rewley House, Oxford. You will be given the option of how you wish to attend during the enrolment process. You can only pick one option. If your preferred attendance format is fully booked, you can email us to be put on the waiting list.

For those joining us online

The University of Oxford uses Microsoft Teams for our learning environment. If you’re attending online, you’ll be able to see and hear the speakers, and to submit questions via the Teams interface. Joining instructions will be sent out prior to the start date. We recommend that you join the session at least 10-15 minutes prior to the start time – just as you might arrive a bit early at our lecture theatre for an in-person event.

If you have not used the Microsoft Teams app before, once you click the joining link you will be invited to download it (this is free). Once you have downloaded the app, please test before the start of your course. If you are using a laptop or desktop computer, you will also be offered the option of connecting using a web browser. If you connect via a web browser, Chrome is recommended.

Please note that this course will not be recorded.