10 books like Hadrian's Wall

By Brian Dobson, David J Breeze,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Hadrian's Wall. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Garrison Life at Vindolanda

By Anthony Birley,

Book cover of Garrison Life at Vindolanda

No list of the best books about Hadrian’s Wall would be complete without Anthony Birley’s hugely insightful and endlessly absorbing book about the Roman fort at Vindolanda, even if Vindolanda, a fort on the Stanegate, is not, in reality, part of Hadrian’s Wall at all. For Vindolanda is the only place in what was the Roman Empire that we actually get to meet the auxiliary soldiers who made up much of the Roman army, and the ordinary people with whom they interacted. Listen very carefully, and you can even hear them speak. The keys that open the door to their lives are the world-acclaimed Vindolanda Tablets, small slivers of alder or birch 15cm x10, which were used to send letters or messages. These tiny time capsules have opened up the lives and given us the names of several hundred of the Batavian and Tungrian soldiers who garrisoned Vindolanda, and introduced…

Garrison Life at Vindolanda

By Anthony Birley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Garrison Life at Vindolanda as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The ink writing-tablets, first indentified at Roman Vindolanda, just south of Hadrian's Wall, in 1973, revealed a hitherto unknown papyrus-substitute, thin leaves of wood for day-to-day book-keeping and letters. Dating mostly from the years AD 90-125 (Hadrian's Wall was begun in 122), these unique tablets represent the largest collection of original Roman letters ever found. The book paints a detailed picture of two Roman auxilary regiments, the 9th Cohort of Batavians and the 1st Cohort of Tungrians. Among the 400 named officers and personnel, the Batavian prefect Flavius Cerialis features prominently, together with his wife Sulpicia Lepidina, who received the…


The Wall

By Alistair Moffat,

Book cover of The Wall: Rome's Greatest Frontier

A non-fiction book with the same title as my novel, well why not? Alistair Moffat is an old friend and fellow Borderer who grew up not so far north of Hadrian’s Wall and has an abiding passion for history, language and place. What I love about The Wall is the way it manages to encompass the grand theme of the Romans in Britain and at the same time shine a spotlight on the fascinating minutiae of life in those ancient times. Thus we learn about the games the Roman soldiers played, the food they consumed and the building techniques they used to construct the Wall. Fair enough, you say, but … where else would we discover that the historian Suetonius, whose Life of the Twelve Caesars helped inform several of my earlier novels, was sacked by the Emperor Hadrian. That WH Auden wrote a poem called ‘Roman Wall Blues’. Or…

The Wall

By Alistair Moffat,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Wall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hadrian's Wall is the largest, most spectacular and one of the most enigmatic historical monument 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 south of the Wall, the vallum, is larger than any surviving prehistoric earthwork. Built in a ten-year period by more than 30,000 soldiers and labourers at the behest of an extraordinary emperor, the Wall…


An Archaeological Guide to Walking Hadrian's Wall from Bowness-on-Solway to Wallsend

By M.C. Bishop,

Book cover of An Archaeological Guide to Walking Hadrian's Wall from Bowness-on-Solway to Wallsend

The only way to see Hadrian’s Wall properly is to visit it on foot. Only then can you experience it as the Roman soldiers who garrisoned it between 122AD and 410AD experienced it, especially when the freezing hail comes howling in from the north. If Breeze and Dobson have written the definitive book on Hadrian’s Wall, Mike Bishop, who has walked, cycled, driven and flown along the Wall, is undoubtedly the font of all knowledge, immersed in every detail. Backed by a lifetime of archaeological experience, this guide allows you to see the monument through his eyes, with a host of historical and physical detail that most people miss. It follows the Hadrian’s Wall Trail, which Mike was involved in from the start, but where the path deviates from the Wall, this account stays with it, allowing the reader to experience and examine remains most other walkers don’t. I was…

An Archaeological Guide to Walking Hadrian's Wall from Bowness-on-Solway to Wallsend

By M.C. Bishop,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked An Archaeological Guide to Walking Hadrian's Wall from Bowness-on-Solway to Wallsend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is an informative (yet informal) description of the route of Hadrian's Wall and all the remains that can still be seen. For most of the route from east to west, it follows the Hadrian's Wall National Trail Footpath, but with an important difference: where the path veers off the line of the Wall, this account stays with it and allows you to examine the remains most other walkers do not see (and most other guidebooks do not describe). Profusely illustrated with more than 100 photographs and plans, it is the perfect archaeological companion to your walk along Hadrian's Wall,…


Hadrian's Wall

By Derry Brabbs,

Book cover of Hadrian's Wall

Last, but certainly not least, the iconic landmark captured through the lens of a master. Despite the sub-title to my previous book, Mike Bishop’s preferred route along Hadrian’s Wall is from west to east, with the prevailing wind at his back. Derry Brabbs obviously agrees, because this beautifully illustrated book takes us from the Solway Coast to Wallsend in a series of stunning photographs that capture the Wall in the kind of breathtaking detail that perfectly illustrates why Brabbs is one of the UK’s most highly regarded photographers. It’s not just about the amazing vistas and moody landscapes, there is a very readable narrative, but it’s the photographs that will draw you back time and time again.

Hadrian's Wall

By Derry Brabbs,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hadrian's Wall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hadrian's Wall has been designated a World Heritage Site since 1987 and in 2005 was also incorporated into a wider UNESCO category - the Frontiers of the Roman Empire.

It is also the basis for an 84 mile National Trail.



The book will cover not only the full length of Hadrian's Wall from the Solway Firth to Wallsend on Tyneside, but also other places of historical, landscape or architectural merit to the north and south of the actual Wall itself.



Chapter One Background and History

Chapter Two The Solway Coast

Chapter Three Carlisle to Birdoswald

Chapter Four Birdoswald to Cawfields…


Hadrian's Wall

By Matthew Symonds,

Book cover of Hadrian's Wall: Creating Division

The northern border of Roman Britain came to define much of the occupation in the province, given the far north of the main island of Britain was never fully conquered. This meant the north and west of the province featured an exceptionally large military presence, with the whole local economy there bent on maintaining it. By far the most enigmatic manifestation of this is Hadrian’s Wall, the physical northern frontier for much of the Roman period. In this brand new work, featuring much new research, Matthew Symonds of Current Publishing goes into great detail about the history of the fortification, its purpose, and the impact it has had on British history following Rome’s departure. 

Hadrian's Wall

By Matthew Symonds,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hadrian's Wall as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Over its venerable history, Hadrian's Wall has had an undeniable influence in shaping the British landscape, both literally and figuratively. Once thought to be a soft border, recent research has implicated it in the collapse of a farming civilisation centuries in the making, and in fuelling an insurgency characterised by violent upheaval. Examining the everyday impact of the Wall over the three centuries it was in operation, Matthew Symonds sheds new light on its underexplored human story by discussing how the evidence speaks of a hard border scything through a previously open landscape and bringing dramatic change in its wake.…


Wounds of Honour

By Anthony Riches,

Book cover of Wounds of Honour: Empire 1

High-born Marcus Aquila finds himself on Hadrian’s Wall in a lowly auxiliary cohort after his family angers the mad Emperor Commodus. He arrives just in time for a tribal rebellion and finds himself up to his neck in crazed berserkers. The action is fast, the battles incredible. Be careful as you turn the page, because you might just slip in all the entrails. The series loses steam around book 7 but the first three are stunning.

Wounds of Honour

By Anthony Riches,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Wounds of Honour as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Marcus Valerius Aquila has scarcely landed in Britannia when he has to run for his life - condemned to dishonorable death by power-crazed Emperor Commodus. The plan is to take a new name, serve in an obscure regiment on Hadrian's Wall and lie low until he can hope for justice. Then a rebel army sweeps down from the wastes north of the Wall, and Marcus has to prove he's hard enough to lead a century in the front line of a brutal, violent war.


Terra Incognita

By Ruth Downie,

Book cover of Terra Incognita: A Novel of the Roman Empire

An unlikely pair fight crime and corruption in second-century Britain. 

Meet Ruso and Tilla. He’s an educated, idealistic Roman serving as an army medic with the 20th Legion. She’s a feisty, pragmatic Briton and former slave. Together they fight injustice, solve murders, and share an endearing talent for getting themselves into awkward pickles by misconstruing each other’s intentions. 

In Terra Incognito, Ruso travels to the British frontier, where he is the outsider and Tilla the one who understands the rules. Can a tough Roman soldier learn to take advice from his barbarian housekeeper? Can he trust her not to betray him or run away to rejoin her people? Tilla proves trustworthy, and a great crime-fighting partnership is formed.

Terra Incognita

By Ruth Downie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Terra Incognita as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is spring in the year of 118, and Hadrian has been Emperor of Rome for less than a year. After getting involved with the murders of local prostitutes in the town of Deva, Doctor Gaius Petreius Ruso needs to get out of town, so has volunteered for a posting with the Army on the volatile border where the Roman-controlled half of Britannia meets the independent tribes of the North. Not only is he going to the hinterlands of the hinterlands, but it his slave Tilla's homeland and she has some scores to settle there. Soon they find that Tilla's…


Vindolanda

By Adrian Goldsworthy,

Book cover of Vindolanda

Flavius Ferox is kind of like a Roman sheriff looking after tribal lands in northern England. What looks like a simple raid soon turns into something much more. Ferox is a fantastic character and there’s some subtle humour in with the bloodshed. The start of an excellent trilogy, this gets you in from the start.

Yes, technically Flavius Ferox isn't a Roman as he was born a Silurian (a very warlike tribe of Wales) but he fights for the Romans and he has no problems at all in being bathed in barbarian blood at the end of a battle. That makes him a more than worthy addition to this list.

Vindolanda

By Adrian Goldsworthy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Vindolanda as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gripping, authentic novel set in Roman Britain from bestselling historian, Adrian Goldsworthy.

AD 98: VINDOLANDA.
A FORT ON THE EDGE OF THE ROMAN WORLD.

The bustling army base at Vindolanda lies on the northern frontier of Britannia and the entire Roman world. In just over twenty years time, the Emperor Hadrian will build his famous wall. But for now defences are weak as tribes rebel against Rome, and local druids preach the fiery destruction of the invaders.

It falls to Flavius Ferox, Briton and Roman centurion, to keep the peace. But it will take more than just a soldier's courage…


Roman Woman

By Lindsay Allason-Jones,

Book cover of Roman Woman: Everyday Life in Hadrian's Britain

This follows a British woman who has married a Roman army veteran through a year in Britain during the reign of Hadrian. It is filled with tons of accurate detail about every aspect of daily life. It is written as a novel but because the author is a scholar of Roman British history and archaeology, you can count on her accuracy in a way that I ordinarily don’t rely on with novels.

Roman Woman

By Lindsay Allason-Jones,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Roman Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Roman Britain is vividly portrayed in this fascinating and authentically detailed story about a year in the life of an ordinary woman and her family.

The year is AD 133. Hadrian is Emperor of Rome and all its vast empire, including Britannia. The greater part of that island has long been under imperial rule and the Roman legions control most of the land, quelling uprisings and building new forts and towns. Around the fortress of Eboracum (now known as York), a bustling garrison settlement is developing, while along the north-west frontier of Hadrian's empire, the legions are completing the construction…


The Ivy Tree

By Mary Stewart,

Book cover of The Ivy Tree

This is the only book I reread regularly (life is short, so many titles!) because it is gobsmackingly brilliant. The story is about a woman visiting an English country town who’s mistaken for a former resident and convinced to take that person’s place. It’s beautifully written, with great characters, typically compelling plot, but the twist! I gasped out loud the first time and have never failed to get chills on every reread. You don’t see the surprise coming, and yet it is absolutely logical and perfect. I keep trying to find someplace where Stewart trips up or gives it away, and there’s nothing. I bow down.

The Ivy Tree

By Mary Stewart,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Ivy Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mary Stewart, one of the great British storytellers of the 20th century, transports her readers to rural Northumberland for this tale of romance, ambition, and deceit - a perfect fit for fans of Agatha Christie and Barbara Pym.

'There are few to equal Mary Stewart' Daily Telegraph

'Mary Stewart is magic.' New York Times

Whitescar is a beautiful old house and farm situated in Roman Wall country. It will make a rich inheritance for its heirs, but in order to secure it, they enlist the help of a young woman named Mary who bears remarkable resemblance to missing Whitescar heiress,…


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