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Watchers of the wall are ready to answer questions about Hadrian’s Wall or Game of Thrones

Highly Trained ‘Watchers’ Positioned At Ancient English Forts Prepare For Game Of Thrones Invasion


English Heritage attempts to distinguish ‘facts from fantasy’ at Hadrian’s Wall as increasing numbers of Game Of Thrones fans visit ‘The Wall’.

Hadrian's Wall is a vast defensive fortification built at the beginning of the second century in the ‘Roman province of Britannia’ (Britain). Stretching 73 miles across northern Britain, from sea to sea, it stands at a height of 4.5 meters. Marking the northern limit of the Roman Empire, and bordering the lands of the northern Ancient Britons which the Roman's termed ‘barbarians’, Hadrian’s Wall inspired author George RR Martin’s giant ice wall in the hit TV series.

In reality, according to the English Heritage website, “Hadrian’s Wall is a myriad of 16 forts, 80 milecastles and 160 turrets and was permanently manned by thousands of soldiers”, to quell uprisings from the north. George R. R. Martin's 'The Wall' is a colossal ice wall running along the northern border of the Seven Kingdoms, designed to keep out Wildings and White Walkers and protected by the Night's Watch (a group of men sworn to defend it).

An imposing real life ice wall. (Mario Hoppmann / Adobe Stock)

An imposing real life ice wall. (Mario Hoppmann / Adobe Stock)

In Martin’s fantasy world, the great ice wall is defended by the ‘Night’s Watch guardsmen’ and based on these fictional warriors English Heritage has appointed its own ‘Watchers’ at Roman forts along the course of Hadrian’s Wall. The English Heritage website shows the Watchers dressed in black cloaks and shields and announces that they “will be on hand to answer questions about the series and sort the bloody fact from the even bloodier fiction”.

The Daily Mail quoted Frances McIntosh, English Heritage’s curator of Hadrian’s Wall, as saying:

“Today it may not be supersized like George RR Martin’s colossal ice wall, but when it was built nearly 2,000 years ago, Hadrian’s Wall would have been a huge, hulking sign of Roman imperial strength, and standing on the precipice looking north, you can tell why Martin was inspired by this ancient monument.”

Hadrian’s Wall, (stocksolutions / Adobe Stock)

Hadrian’s Wall, (stocksolutions / Adobe Stock)

Game of Thrones Locations

Understanding that Ancient Origins readers are of a highly inquisitive nature, but that you are situated all over the world meaning not everyone can hop in their car and visit Hadrian’s Wall, you might want to follow these research threads for a fully immersive online behind the scenes Game of Thrones adventure, from your armchair!

For those who want an insight into the real-world ancient historical characters, loves, losses and political struggles that inspired RR Martin while writing Game of Thrones, this Ancient Origins article is for you.

But for the hardcore digital explorers among you, try Google Street View’s Game of Thrones collection which offers full emersion into film locations such as the real city which plays King’s Landing and the ravine where Brienne of Tarth faced The Hound.

Being linked to Google Maps you can explore locations by zooming in and out and because this is ‘Street View’ you can walk around and explore the places where  Game of Thrones was filmed. A article about this Google collection suggests following “Cersei’s walk of shame through the streets of Dubrovnik in Croatia, or fleeing down the road near Stranocum in Northern Ireland with Arya as she fled King’s Landing.”

Watching pro-camera work married with state-of-the-art CGI at real-world locations is an eye opener, but be warned, seeing how the real life places differ from their  Game of Thrones stylized versions utterly destroys the televisual illusion.

English Heritage's Watchers on the Wall are now on hand at four Roman forts along Hadrian’s wall. (English Heritage)

English Heritage's Watchers on the Wall are now on hand at four Roman forts along Hadrian’s wall. (English Heritage)

The Game Returns To Its TV Throne

After a near two-year wait Game of Thrones fans are braced for the final series of the epic television fantasy drama set to air next month on Sky Atlantic. English Heritage’s ‘Watchers on the Wall’ will be situated at the charity’s main four Roman fort sites; Birdoswald Roman Fort in Cumbria and Corbridge Roman Town, Housesteads Roman Fort and Chesters Roman Fort in Northumberland. The Watchers will begin their duty this week and will ‘serve at the wall’ until the final series ends later in in 2019.

Top image: Watchers of the wall are ready to answer questions about Hadrian’s Wall or Game of Thrones               .                Source: English Heritage

By Ashley Cowie

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Ashley is a Scottish historian, author, and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems in accessible and exciting ways.

He was raised in Wick, a small fishing village in the county of Caithness on the north east coast of... Read More

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