Carlisle and Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian’s Wall is an astounding feat of engineering. It’s the best known and the best preserved frontier of the Roman Empire. When Hadrian’s men set out to construct it they were faced with a relentlessly challenging and variable landscape to conquer. Neither the fierce torrents of fast rivers, the hard rock of the Whin Sill, nor mile upon mile of rolling hills would defeat them.
Just a stone's throw from Carlisle, Hadrian’s Wall is a fascinating World Heritage Site and Britain’s most impressive and significant Roman monument.
Remains of the stone-built wall and regularly spaced forts, milecastles and turret stations can be seen along most of its 73-mile length, with some of the best examples near Birdoswald Roman Fort (approximately 16 miles east of Carlisle).
Being at Hadrian’s Wall still evokes the strong sense of standing on the edge of an empire.
Home to Rome's elite cavalry
The Roman name for Carlisle was Luguvalio which, by 1106, had been changed to Carleol, which is the origin of the modern day 'Carlisle'. This is probably derived from an earlier Welsh word Caer or Cair, meaning 'fort, fortress'. The word luguvalio is unlikely to be Latin, maybe British origin,and possibly the second element is derived from "wall" or "Valium" and relates to the Roman wall.
It is not known exactly who Luguvalos was or how the Romano-British town came to be named after him, he was possibly an iron-age noble, a high-ranking member of the Carvetii tribe who inhabited the countryside hereabouts.
When it was built, Hadrian’s Wall represented the far northern edge of the colossal Roman Empire. The frontier was first established along the line that was called the Stanegate (stone street) in Medieval times. This ran from Carlisle to Corbridge. Recent excavations have shown that the fort at Carlisle, which lay between the castle and Tullie House, was occupied from AD 72/3 to the early fifth century. It predated the Stanegate frontier, but was incorporated into it around AD 103-5.
In AD 122, Hadrian ordered the wall that bears his name to be built. The wall ran north of Carlisle through Uxelodunum (modern Stanwix, now a suburb of Carlisle). This was the largest fort on Hadrian's Wall. A recent hugely exciting archaeological find, described by Archaeologists as premiere league, has finally confirmed the location of the military bath-house which has long puzzled historians. It would have been used by the Ala Petriana, the crack Roman cavalry regiment based at Stanwix. The elite 1,000-strong unit was the most feared fighting force on Hadrian’s Wall, the Roman Empire’s northern-most frontier.
Carlisle Cricket Club pavilion at Edenside was flooded in 2005 and 2015. The club has been working on possible options to relocate the pavilion to higher ground on the opposite side. As part of the preparation for the planning application, the club commissioned archaeologists to carry out investigations. Following initial archaeology found which uncovered evidence of Roman baths, Carlisle City Council funded extra days for the dig to be extended. The work has uncovered significant archaeology and high quality finds which would not have been discovered without the support of the Council.
The work has uncovered evidence of Roman baths that would have been used by Roman cavalry based at Stanwix. The work has uncovered significant archaeology and high quality finds which would not have been discovered without the support of the Council. The site has revealed original floors, walls, painted plasterwork, stunningly preserved coins, cooking vessels and an inscription which is in exceptional condition.
A permanant exhibition at Tullie House Museum
The gallery is a permanent exhibition which showcases Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery’s significant Roman collections along with items on loan from the British Museum. A broad range of interpretative techniques have been employed throughout the gallery including mixed-media displays and experience-based interactive exhibits aimed at local, national and international visitors.
The Living Wall area is a place where visitors can engage with ideas and stories, participate in dialogue with other visitors and the museum and develop an understanding from more contemporary examples about life on a frontier.
Tullie House’s large collection of Roman artefacts includes an internationally important set of organic (mostly wooden and leather) objects from excavations of the fort and town located under present day Carlisle, as well as an outstanding collection of inscribed and sculptured stones. The museum also has collections originating from the Cumbrian sections of Hadrian’s Wall and holds a small number of Roman writing tablets, including what may be the first written reference ever found naming the province as ‘Britannia. The Roman displays can be seen in the Border Galleries, where there is a full-height reconstruction of a section of Hadrian’s Wall.
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