Archaeologists Discover Hundreds of Ancient Settlements North of Hadrian’s Wall

Archaeologists were able to uncover one-hundred and thirty-four settlements north of Hadrian’s wall that had never been seen before. The discoveries that the archaeologists have made were part of the “Beyond Walls: Reassessing Iron Age and Roman Encounters in Northern Britain project”

The findings hold critical answers to Roman occupation and daily life in the third century. The conclusions and details have been published in May’s issue of Antiquity. Over fifteen-thousand Roman soldiers spent years building the Hadrian’s Wall to mark the Roman Empire’s Northwestern Boundaries in Britain. The wall is primarily made from stone and turf.

With many defensive fortifications, the walls measure seventy-three miles with many observation towers that soldiers used as lookouts. Roman troops used these fortifications to control access and mobility throughout the region while also protecting the lands from invaders for over three centuries. The cultural effects these settlements had on the communities in Britain and the surrounding areas are vast.

The study was established and funded by the Leverhulme Trust in the United Kingdoms. They were able to use LiDAR, a laser mapping technology, to gain insight into five-hundred and seventy-nine square miles of land and wall going into southwest Scotland.

This led to discovering numerous unrecorded settlements with 3D pictures adding over a hundred new unknown settlements to the five-hundred and seventy previously known sites. With the information that can be received from the data, researchers are hopeful this can offer more clues into how Romans and those native to the region interacted with each other.

The sites are a “great case study to analyze the impact of imperial powers on societies at the edges of their political borders,” Manuel Fernández-Götz, an archaeologist at the University of Edinburgh and one of the study’s co-authors told Ashley Strickland during a CNN correspondence.

According to the below synopsis from the Cambridge Journal, the project is involved covering the changes that occurred during the periods of c. 500 BC-AD 500 seeking to answer if any notable variation across time and space can be linked to diverse strategies of individual communities, or are there also general trends that resemble changes in other Roman frontier areas?

“In order to address these issues and re-evaluate the impact of Rome on its northernmost frontier, the new Leverhulme-funded project Beyond Walls: Reassessing Iron Age and Roman Encounters in Northern Britain (2021–2024) adopts a long-term perspective covering the period from c. 500 BC–AD 500. The project aims to examine the trends and transformations before, during and after the period of direct Roman presence in a study area that extends from approximately 40km south of Hadrian’s Wall to some 40km north of the Antonine Wall. This takes a perspective beyond the lines of these two monumental UNESCO World Heritage sites that have often acted as a focus for previous research strategies. Within this large study region, which extends from northern England to the southern Scottish Highlands, the project rationalises existing survey and excavation data within a common framework. This includes reviewing published data and grey literature in national and local archives, creating a systematic database to allow large-scale comparison. Moreover, the multi-scalar approach includes rapid prospection using remote-sensing datasets to identify previously unknown sites, allowing us to interrogate gaps in evidence and assess the representativity and reliability of known settlement patterns.”

Background Of Hadrian’s Wall: 

Hadrian was Roman emperor from 117 to 138 AD. He was born into a Roman family which had settled in Spain. His father was of senatorial rank and was a first cousin of Emperor Trajan. On Hadrian’s accession to the imperial throne there was unrest and rebellion in Roman Britain and from the peoples of various conquered lands across the Empire

The wall’s primary purpose was to serve as a physical barrier to slow up the crossing of raiders and people intent on getting into the empire for destructive or plundering purposes. The wall also allowed the Roman’s to control who entered, moved around, and left Roman territory.

This was critical in controlling trading and the economy in the surrounding areas. The Wall enabled years of work for thousands of soldiers who were responsible for building and maintaining the structure.

“For nearly three centuries, until the end of Roman rule in Britain in 410 AD, Hadrian’s Wall was the clearest statement of the might, resourcefulness, and determination of an individual emperor and of his empire”.

Book Pick Of The Day

Book Synopsis:

The Romans were master builders, and much of what they built has stood the test of time. Throughout their vast empire they have left grand structures, from the Forum and Pantheon in Rome to the theatres and hippodromes of North Africa and the triumphal gates in Anatolia and France. Wherever they went, the Romans built imposing structures to show their power and ability, and one of their most impressive constructions was built on the northernmost fringe of the empire.

In 55 BCE, Julius Caesar was still dealing with Gaul, but that year, he also led the first Romans into Britain, accusing tribes there of aiding the Gauls against him. With winter fast approaching, Caesar’s forces did not make their way far into the mainland that year, but the following year, Caesar’s soldiers advanced into the island’s interior and conquered a large swath of territory before a revolt in Gaul once again drew him back across the Channel. The Romans eventually established enough of a presence to set up the outpost of Londinium, which ultimately morphed into one of the world’s most famous cities today, London.

Shortly after the emperor Hadrian came to power in the early 2nd century CE, he decided to seal off Scotland from Roman Britain with an ambitious wall stretching from sea to sea. To accomplish this, the wall had to be built from the mouth of the River Tyne – where Newcastle stands today – 80 Roman miles (76 miles or 122 kilometers) west to Bowness-on-Solway. The sheer scale of the job still impresses people today, and Hadrian’s Wall has the advantage of being systematically studied and partially restored. A study of the wall and its history provide an insight not only into the political context of Rome at the time but the empire’s incredible engineering capabilities.

Hadrian’s Wall: The History and Construction of Ancient Rome’s Most Famous Defensive Fortification explains the history and construction of one of the ancient world’s most famous defensive lines. Along with pictures and a bibliography, you will learn about Hadrian’s Wall like never before.


References & Sources: 


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9 thoughts on “Archaeologists Discover Hundreds of Ancient Settlements North of Hadrian’s Wall

  1. I loved a mile from Hadrian’s Wall and part of my wife’s PhD was looking at Housteads(Vercovicium) I was South of the wall and my horses were North of it. We used to have to travel through a couple of practice marching forts to get to them.

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