Teach Through Educational Travel: Hadrian’s Wall

There’s a wall that runs for 73+ miles across northern England, from Wallsend-on-Tyne to Bowness. Called Hadrian’s Wall, it was ordered to be built by Roman Emperor Hadrian in order to protect Roman Britain from the ‘northern barbarians,’ the Picts. The wall today is mostly in ruins, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. Along the path (which closely aligns with the border between Scotland and England), you can see remnants of the wall, ruins of buildings, and more. There are interesting historical spots all along the journey, and many people hike the path. There’s even a Robin Hood tree! However, Hadrian’s Wall isn’t the most northern wall built by the Roman Empire – that designation goes to the Antonine Wall, ordered built by the Emperor Antonius.

Teach Through Educational Travel

  • Watch this short video on Hadrian’s Wall, and then scroll through these 12 slides on the building of Hadrian’s Wall. Can you imagine what it was like to be a Roman solider, building (and then guarding) that wall, so far from home?
  • Small guard forts were built every mile (!) along the wall, with two small lookouts in between each fort. There were also several larger forts built along the wall, to house more soldiers (500-1000).Check out these places to visit along Hadrian’s Wall. Split up into 6 small groups and each take one to learn about; then come back to discuss as a whole classroom. Look for personal stories of history, artifacts, and the influence of the wall on these six areas – and one thing that fascinates you!
  • Many people today walk Hadrian’s Wall. Take a look at this official site, and then read one traveler’s account of walking the wall – including his vibrant descriptions of life along the wall today.
  • One of the best ways to travel back in time is to visualize history. You can do this by visiting, reading, and letting your imagination run free. Read these two articles here and here, where one writer imagines history coming alive along Hadrian’s Wall, and then this piece about Life along the Wall. There are many buildings to visit along the wall (as you know from previous research), as well as long stretches of the wall to explore first-hand. Write a short paragraph (or more, if you’re so inclined) about the wall, from the perspective of a Roman soldier stationed along the wall. Read them aloud in class, and discuss the common themes you all picked up on, in your historical re-imaginings.