Straddling Cumbria and Northumberland, Hadrian's Wall is one of England's most important historic sites.
Built in AD122, on the orders of the Emperor Hadrian, the 73 mile Roman defensive structure extended from Wallsend on the Tyne in the east to Bowness-on-Solway to the west.
The greatest Roman monument created in Britain, it was constructed to keep the barbarian Caledonians of Scotland out of England. Because the wall was not impenetable, forts were built at seven mile intervals and milecastles (small guard posts) were set at intervals of a mile.
Two stone turrets were placed between each set of milecastles for observation and for temporary accomodation by soldiers patrolling the wall. As further protection a ditch was built in front of the wall, except when rocky crags made it unnecessary.
A significant portion of Hadrian's Wall still exists, particularly the mid-section, and the whole route can be followed on foot. The Hadrian's Wall Path is an unbroken 84 mile signposted trail from Wallsend to Bowness-on-Solway.
One of the UK's National Trails, the Hadrian's Wall Path is separated into 43 short walks suitable for all ages. Some of the finest surving parts of Hadrian's Wall can be found in the north of Cumbria near Carlisle.
The Birdoswald Roman Fort, situated at Gilsland, Brampton, was known in Roman times as 'Banna' and was one of 16 forts on Hadrian's Wall. Set on a high spur overlooking the River Irthing Gorge, the fort had one of the most impressive locations along the Wall. The fort originally had barrack blocks, granaries, a large basilica (aisled exercise hall), hospital, commandant's house, headquarters building, parade ground, civilian settlement and graveyard. The remains of the granaries and basilica can clearly be seen today. Now designated a World Heritage Site, Birdoswald Roman Fort has an interactive visitor centre complete with a full scale replica of a piece of the wall and audio visual presentation.
A magnificent stretch of Hadrian's Wall adjoins the fort for half a mile to Harrow Scar Milecastle. Visitors can also tour the Banks Turret (52A) and the Leahill Turret (51B) at Brampton.
The award-winning Tullie House Museum in Carlisle provides lots of information on Hadrian's Wall. Its 'Romans in Britain' exhibition includes nationally renowned collections from Roman Carlisle and a reconstruction of part of Hadrian's Wall, built on the site of the original wall that ran through the city. The interactive displays also allow visitors to walk down a Roman street and try out replica Roman weapons.