True Path of Hadrian's Wall Excavated in Newcastle
A previously recorded stretch of Hadrian's Wall has been rediscovered in Newcastle in northeastern England. Researchers made the discovery as they excavated land during restoration works at a Victorian building.
Part of Hadrian’s Wall Unearthed in the Heart of Newcastle
The section of the historic wall was uncovered outside the Mining Institute on Westgate Road and experts now suggest that the discovery will shed new light on its route across the north of England according to a report in Chronicle Live. Archaeologists working on a project to restore a building in the city's center unearthed the section, which was last seen during 1952 construction on the same site. However, Simon Brooks, acting general manager of the Mining Institute, doesn’t appear so sure about the initial discovery that took place in the 1950’s, “There was some controversy about whether the Wall had been found, he tells Metro. And continues, “A lot of people were skeptical but now we have proof positive and we are delighted,” pointing out with confidence that the new discovery leaves no doubt whatsoever.
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The lost section of Hadrian’s Wall that has been uncovered in Newcastle, UK (Image: NCJ Media)
The Marvelous Wall of Hadrian
Built by Emperor Hadrian of the Roman Empire, Hadrian's Wall stretches across the width of England south of its modern border with Scotland. As Ivan Petricevic reported for Ancient Origins in 2014, this remarkable monument covers over seventy miles (120 km) going from Wallsend on the east coast of England in North Tyneside to the salt marshes of the Solway Estuary in Cumbria on the west coast. It was built in two phases under the direction of Roman Emperor Hadrian, who was among the ‘Five Good Emperors’ of Rome. Hadrian was an extremely prominent Roman Emperor, who reigned from 117 to 138 AD.
According to historical records, Hadrian was a very generous man, giving large amounts of money to communities and individuals, and is said to have been one of the few emperors that wanted to live unassumingly, like a private citizen. Hadrian was also well known for his extensive traveling throughout his empire, and it was Hadrian who laid the foundations of the Byzantine Empire.
Hadrian's building projects are without a doubt his most enduring legacy. He founded cities throughout the entire Balkan Peninsula, Greece, Egypt and even Asia. The Arch of Hadrian constructed by the citizens of Athens in 132 AD honor Hadrian as the founder of the city. He also re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. But his most important monument is the wall constructed in the north of England.
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The view along Hadrian's Wall towards Housesteads Roman Fort. (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Known in the past as Vallum Hadriani, the construction process of the wall began around 122 AD, corresponding to the visit of the Roman emperor to the province. Originally 3 m wide (10 ft) and up to 6 m (20 ft) in height east of the river Irthing, and 6 m (10 ft) wide and 3.5 m (11.5 ft) meters high west of the river, the wall stretches over a vast distance across uneven terrain. It is believed that the wall was originally covered in plaster and was white-washed, giving the wall a shining surface that would have reflected the sunlight and making it visible from many miles away.
The construction project took six years to complete and was first thought to have been built by slaves, but this was later disproven. It is now known that the builders of Hadrian's Wall were Roman legionaries who were stationed in Britain in over a dozen fortifications located along the wall. Hadrian's Wall underwent a series of mayor repairs standing strong as the northwestern frontier until the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century AD. The first excavations of Hadrian's wall are believed to have been undertaken by William Camden in the 1600's but the first actual drawings of the wall were made in the 18th century with formal archaeological studies beginning in the 19th century and continuing until today.
The Bath House, Chesters Fort, Hadrian's Wall. (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Further Investigations Also Uncover Foundations of Westmoreland House
Fast forward to 2017, the recent excavation works have also uncovered the foundations of Westmoreland House, which was destroyed to make space for the Mining Institute building in Neville Hall, which opened in 1872.
As Metro reports, the house was property of the wealthy Neville family and dates back to the 14th century. A dig inside the institute has unearthed a cellar of Westmoreland House, which had been substituted with slag in order to upsurge the ground after the building’s destruction. Animal bones, oyster shells and clay pipes were also found to be mixed with the slag. “It looks like they are using whatever they could get their hands on to fill in the cellars,” archaeologist Alan Rushworth told Metro.
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Further investigations at the site are now continued by The Archaeological Practice. Archaeologists suggest that more sections of the wall are believed to occupy space underneath Newcastle, while the remains of a small Roman fort have also been found nearby.
Top image: Simon Brooks showing the section of Hadrian's Wall that's been found on Westgate Road outside the Mining Institute (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)