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Chesters Fort at Hadrian's Wall
In 122AD, the Roman Emperor Hadrian ordered a wall built across the northern reaches of the Roman territory in what was then known as Britannia. The wall of stone and turf was 73 miles long, 8 feet wide in most places and 15 feet high and it stretched across the breadth of Britain. It took six years to complete. It’s a line between what is now Newcastle and Carlisle.
 
The purpose of Hadrian's Wall was to keep out the Caledonians who were hostile and barbaric in their eyes. To the Picts of Caledonians as the Romans knew them, the wall would have been an awesome sight, cutting off their freedom of travel.
 
There were small fortresses and garrisons at every mile marker and each held up to 40 or more Roman soldiers. These were look-out points. The Romans communicated along this wall and it is believed they signaled with shiny objects reflecting the light of the sun. There were many larger forts built into the wall as well, holding up to a 1000 men. They would be gated north and south to allow passage.
 
It is still uncertain who physically built the wall. It is often thought it was built by enslaved people, but now believed to have been built by the Roman legions to keep them busy. There wasn't much to do in the northern parts of Britain then and it was all hill, rock and heath.
 
The Roman legions who made their way north included many men with building skills. There were masons, carpenters and the designers themselves.
 
Although Hadrian's Wall is the most famous, it wasn't the only wall of this nature to be built across Britain. There were others. One was the Antoine Wall built across a narrower stretch in Scotland between the Clyde and the Forth. Parts of the wall still remain. It was expected to take the place of Hadrian's Wall as it was much further to the north, but they soon found they could not conquer the Caledonians.
 
Along the River Tyne is a house called Chesters. In the early part of the 19th century a man named Robert Clayton had an estate there and the grounds were directly over one of the forts in the wall.  He wanted clean-swept lawns, so he had what remained of the fort, filled in and smoothed out with soil. But years later, his son, John Clayton, opened up the ruins again and created a museum on the spot. There have been numerous Roman artifacts found in the excavation, including a Medallion with the head of Medusa, stone statues, tools and implements of iron, and even a Roman Shoe. The artifacts are too numerous to mention.  John Clayton continued to excavate other areas along the wall, including Carrawborough Mithraic Temple and Housesteads. As an amateur archaeologist, he made some remarkable finds.
 
The wall built by the Emperor Hadrian  and the men who came from all over the Roman Empire exists today only in skeletal remains but you still have the sense of it and you can imagine how it once was. It was a remarkable achievement.


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Chesters Fort at Hadrian's Wall