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.