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Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — The Wall by Alistair Moffat. Hadrian's Wall is the largest, most spectacular and one of the most enigmatic historical monuments in Britain. Nothing else approaches its vast scale: a land wall running 73 miles from east to west and a sea wall stretching at least 26 miles down the Cumbrian coast. Many of its forts are as large as Britain's most formidable medieval castles, and the wide ditch dug to the Hadrian's Wall is the largest, most spectacular and one of the most enigmatic historical monuments in Britain.

Many of its forts are as large as Britain's most formidable medieval castles, and the wide ditch dug to the south of the Wall, the vallum, is larger than any surviving prehistoric earthwork. Built in a ten-year period by more than 30, soldiers and labourers at the behest of an extraordinary emperor, the Wall consisted of more than 24 million stones, giving it a mass greater than all the Egyptian pyramids put together. At least a million people visit Hadrian's Wall each year and it has been designated a World Heritage Site. In this new book, based on literary and historical sources as well as the latest archaeological research, Alistair Moffat considers who built the Wall, how it was built, why it was built, and how it affected the native peoples who lived in its mighty shadow.

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The result is a unique and fascinating insight into one of the Wonders of the Ancient World. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published March 1st by Birlinn Ltd first published January 1st More Details Original Title. Other Editions 6. Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Wall , please sign up.

Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. May 29, Nikki rated it really liked it Shelves: non-fiction , history , greek-roman.


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The Wall is a really good book about Roman influence in Britain in general. It doesn't just talk about that most famous wall, Hadrian's Wall, but it also discusses the Antonine Wall and even references other frontiers that Hadrian created. It deals with the whole period of Roman occupation of Britain, beginning with Julius Caesar and ending with the fall of the Empire.

It deals with how various different emperors saw Britain, and touches on the politics in Rome that informed that. It's detailed b The Wall is a really good book about Roman influence in Britain in general. It's detailed but still readable, and Moffat's genuine enthusiasm for the subject shows. Rather than fill the book with footnotes, he's put non-essential-but-relevant information in boxes, to clearly separate it while keeping it handy. There's a section of photographs of the Wall, and the final chapter has suggestions about tourist attractions along it.

It didn't tell me much that I wasn't already vaguely aware of, really, from years of Classics lessons and reading Rosemary Sutcliff, but it was satisfying to get clearer pictures, and to read about the real events that inspired her books like Carausius and Allectus, in The Silver Branch.

The Wall - Rome's Greatest Frontier

View all 3 comments. Jul 27, Fredrick Danysh rated it liked it Shelves: history. Much has been written about Hadrian's Wall. Moffat discusses the history of the wall as well as some observations about previously accounts of its history and literature regarding the wall.

This was an interesting and informative read. Aug 21, Cindy Tomamichel rated it it was amazing Shelves: roman-britain. This is a fascinating and well written book.

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It is written in a chatty yet informative style, and there are tidbits of related information in boxes. View 1 comment. Dec 31, Nancy rated it it was amazing Shelves: historical-non-fiction. I've been reading a fair number of books covering Roman Scotland recently and I have found this to be a highly informative one. At times, I wanted to know more about the sources used to make such a convincing account but overall it's a very useful background to the eras prior to the building of Hadrian's Wall and for the decades following after its construction.

Wall, The: Rome's Greatest Frontier

Jan 19, Mike Hardin rated it really liked it. This book is much more than a tourist guide to the ruins of a roman wall, although it is a fascinating one at that. It is actually a survey of the history of the Roman involvement in Britain, beginning with the initial reconnaissance by Julius Caesar and ending with the fading away of the Roman empire on the island in Britain, the Roman Empire ended with a whimper, not a bang. As such, it is an invaluable text for the history of Rome itself from the 2nd century AD through the dissolution of t This book is much more than a tourist guide to the ruins of a roman wall, although it is a fascinating one at that.

The Roman Frontier in the East -- Qasr Bashir Fort Reconstructed

As such, it is an invaluable text for the history of Rome itself from the 2nd century AD through the dissolution of the empire in the West. It is filled with details of daily life in Roman Britain, and particularly along the wall itself.

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It covers not only the lives of the Roman elite and the Roman soldiers who defended the imperium for so long, but describes as far as the sources permit what life was like for the ordinary Briton under Roman rule. It does not dismiss the unconquered Celtic tribes as mere barbarians, but as a separate culture in its own right, which refused to be assimilated and succeeded in adding its own imprint on Britannia.

A very rewarding story, which is not afraid to take occasional detours to add valuable details about things Roman and British, such as the why the toga, one of the most impractical articles of clothing ever invented, was held in such high esteem by the Romans. A caution, however: it would be wise to come equipped with a good map of Britain, and particularly the border lands with Scotland, as the author guides you along the wall from East to West. Beginning with Julius Caesar's brief forays across the channel, Moffat puts the building of Hadrian's Wall into historical context as the Empire fights and subdues the many tribes of Brittania.

As expected, the building and manning of the wall is given a substantial portion of the book, but then the narrative becomes rushed and history seems to go into fast forward as Moffat takes us through the next few hundred years This could just as easily have been named 'A Brief History of Roman Britain'.


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  • As expected, the building and manning of the wall is given a substantial portion of the book, but then the narrative becomes rushed and history seems to go into fast forward as Moffat takes us through the next few hundred years in just 60 or so pages. This shouldn't, however, take away from the substantial achievement in the researching and writing of what is an accessible history book. Jan 22, Koit rated it really liked it. A high 3. The book covered the Roman era British realms in more detail than I thought it would while actually speaking less of the wall and more trying to get across its impact.

    It's an approach I can appreciate though I will note that for a person trying to understand the importance and relevance of the Wall after the 5th century, there's very little here and definitely nothing structured. Apr 30, Leila Mota rated it it was amazing.

    I'll say that it's better yet to those like me who had the wonderful opportunity to visit parts of the wall where I bought the book, by the way. It's like an extended trip. It's a real joy to learn what we can about places we visit or would like to visit. Aug 13, Gilly Wilford rated it it was amazing. A fascinating, lively and entertaining history of Hadrian's Wall and, more generally, Roman rule in Britain from Caesar's first landing to the withdrawal of Rome in the 4th century.

    This is clearly meticulously researched but it wears its learning lightly, making it a delight to read and it feels more like a novel than a learned tome. What a pleasant and enjoyable way to read history. I will read this again. Mar 07, Benjamin Climan rated it it was ok. Starts very interesting, but resorts to dry fact reciting in the end.


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    • Mar 25, Catherine Ayres rated it it was amazing. The truth is that the Romans found Britain impossible to conquer entirely. For most of the year life of the province, a tenth of the whole Roman imperial army was stationed in that part of the island they were able to control. First-rate generals were usually appointed as governors. Determined, independent-minded, well organised and consistently courageous are much more apt adjectives. The difficulty is, however, glaringly obvious. Only Roman reactions to British actions survive in the historical record.

      The British barbarians have left little or no sense of what life was like under Roman rule, or of their successful resistance to it in the north. Memory turns out to be much more fragile even than flaking, crumbling papyrus. Boots were designed to protect the feet from sharp stones and worse, but not to keep them dry.

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      The Wall: Rome's Greatest Frontier by Alistair Moffat (Paperback, 2017)

      Waterproof footwear for soldiers is a recent invention. The Gaels called them brogan. Changed only a little into brogues, the principal design feature of these modern shoes is the tooling on the uppers which resembles half-cut holes. This is not an academic history book, but one for the interested general reader, so whilst the background about Rome and Roman Britain may be too brief for an academic work, for me it fulfilled its purpose admirably in explaining the creation, running and demise of the Wall as well as reminding me of the historic background.

      Feb 04, Changeling72 rated it really liked it. Moffat's text is a history of Hadrian's Wall, the eighty-mile northern frontier of Rome's empire.