Hadrian's Wall: Creating Division (Archaeological Histories)

February 23, 2021
Hadrian's Wall: Creating Division (Archaeological Histories)

Over its venerable history, Hadrian's Wall has had an undeniableinfluence in shaping the British landscape, both literally andfiguratively. Once thought to be a soft border, recent research hasimplicated it in the collapse of a farming civilisation centuriesin the making, and in fuelling an insurgency characterised byviolent upheaval. Examining the everyday impact of the Wall overthe three centuries it was in operation, Matthew Symonds sheds newlight on its underexplored human story by discussing how theevidence speaks of a hard border scything through a previously openlandscape and bringing dramatic change in its wake. The Romansoldiers posted to Hadrian's Wall were overwhelmingly recruits fromthe empire's occupied territories, and for them the frontier couldbe a place of fear and magic where supernatural protection wasinvoked during spells of guard duty.Since antiquity, the Wall has been exploited by powers craving thelegitimacy that came with being accepted as the heirs of Rome: ithelped forge notions of English and Scottish nationhood, and evenprovided a model of selfless cultural collaboration when theBritish Empire needed reassurance. It has also inspired creativesfor centuries, appearing in a more or less recognisable guise inworks ranging from Rudyard Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hillto George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones. Combining anarchaeological analysis of the monument itself and an examinationof its rich legacy and contemporary relevance, this volume presentsa reliable, modern perspective on the Wall.