About Steel Rigg & the Roman Wall
(Romans AD 100 - AD200)
The building of Hadrian’s Wall began in AD122 and took six years to complete.
The wall stretches 73 miles from Segedunum at Wallsend on the River Tyne to the shore of the Solway Firth. The Roman wall was built as a defensive fortification during the rule of Emperor Hadrian, and it follows the ridge of the Whin Sill giving spectacular crags and scenery. Milecastles or forts, each with a kitchen and barracks for a small garrison, were built along the wall, as well as two observation towers. Seventeen larger forts with large gates were also built into the wall which held 500 to 1,000 troops, infantry or cavalry. To the south of the wall the Roman’s dug a wide ditch or vallum with 6 feet high earth banks because they were afraid of the Brigantes tribe of northern England might join up with the tribes of Lowland Scotland.
Hadrian’s Wall became a World Heritage Site in 1987 and 6 miles of the wall from Housesteads to Cawfields Quarry to the west is owned by the National Trust. Access and rights of way to the wall from the car parks at Housesteads, Steel Rigg and Cawfields are operated by the Northumberland National Park Authority.
Housesteads Roman Fort is managed by English Heritage. It once garrisoned 1,000 soldiers and is the most complete Roman fort in Britain standing commandingly high on the exposed escarpment of the Whin Sill.