A border fence from ancient times: Hadrian’s Wall in England

Hadrian’s Wall — named after the emperor who commissioned it — was begun in the second century, in the year 122. Soldiers toiled for a decade or so, piling stone upon stone until it stretched from coast to coast, across the very top of what’s now northern England: a distance of 118 kilometers (73 miles).

It stood up to 4.6 meters high (15 feet) with walls 3 meters wide (9.8 feet). It bristled with towers, forts and watch posts, called milecastles, and gave commanding views of the surrounding countryside.

The wall let the Romans control who and what came into the empire. And it kept the peace. Beyond it were war-mongering communities in what is, today, Scotland, itching to ravage the settlements of refined Roman Britain and bring down fire on the hated invaders. Hadrian’s Wall kept them out.

Almost 2,000 years on, long sections on Hadrian’s Wall still stand, remarkably well-preserved. The thick stone line snakes for miles across rugged uplands, and down into wooded valleys. UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site in 1987 for its “extraordinarily high cultural value.”

It’s a six-day trek along the wall’s entire length, coast to coast.

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