Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 September 2013
This chapter explores the legacies of Hadrian's Wall in the physical and cultural landscape of the north of England. It also addresses how we might develop a rather different appreciation of the archaeological significance of the Wall. Archaeological accounts tend to emphasise the construction of the Wall during the AD 120s and its disuse as a Roman frontier structure in the early fifth century (see for example symonds and Mason 2009). It is clear, however, that this monument did not suddenly cease to exist when Roman Britain came to an end. An alternative approach suggests that the considerable significance of this monument has, effectively, kept its remains alive throughout its lengthy history. Hadrian's Wall has been uncovered and described by many since the sixth century and these accounts and images have added to the life of the Wall, emphasising its continued presence.
Archaeologists have helped to define their subject by developing ways to determine the sequence of passing time, including the techniques of stratigraphy, artefact analysis and radiocarbon dating. From the late 19th century, a detailed body of knowledge has been accumulated that provides a chronology for the Roman period, emphasising the history and transformation of Hadrian's Wall from the 120s to the fifth century (Maxfield 1982; Symonds and Mason 2009). This body of information provides a foundation for the definition, protection and management of this World Heritage Site (Young 1999).