The most recommended books about Hadrian's Wall

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8 authors created a book list connected to Hadrian's Wall, and here are their favorite Hadrian's Wall books.
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The Last Rainbow

By Parke Godwin,

Book cover of The Last Rainbow

Jim Willis Author Of The Wizard in the Wood: A Tale of Magic, Mystery, and Meaning

From the list on magic, mystery, and meaning in 21st century lives.

Who am I?

I am an author, theologian, musician, historian, and college professor who has written more than twenty books about ancient and alternative history, religion in modern culture, and long-distance, meditative bicycling. My study of the past convinced me that modern life has, for far too many of us, grown one-dimensional. It lacks the magic and mystery that imbued the ancients with the deep and rich mythology which we inherited from them, but then allowed to grow dormant within our sheltered lives. Remembering their vision and experience is a key to restoring our own sense of self-worth and essence. Maybe we all need to meet a “Wizard in the Wood!”

Jim's book list on magic, mystery, and meaning in 21st century lives

Why did Jim love this book?

This is a novel about Saint Patrick and the end of an age of magic in Great Britain. What made St. Patrick so effective, spreading his faith where others failed? Might it be that he was first tutored by the mysterious “people of the hollow hills,” north of Hadrian’s Wall? When Patrick went to Ireland, was his brand of Christianity infused with a pagan spirituality based on the wisdom gleaned from Mother Earth herself? Did he combine two systems of religion into a faith that was universal in scope and effectiveness? Did that spirituality manage to make its way to America, long before the voyages of Columbus? And is that the Christianity we so need to recapture today?   

By Parke Godwin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Journeying to a pagan world of old magic in order to spread his religious beliefs, Padree, a passionate young priest, encounters the extraordinary Dorelei, the leader of the mystical Faerie folk, who teaches him about the earth and spirituality. Reprint.


Hadrian's Wall

By Brian Dobson, David J Breeze,

Book cover of Hadrian's Wall

Douglas Jackson Author Of Hero of Rome

From the list on Hadrian’s Wall and the soldiers who manned it.

Who am I?

Douglas Jackson is the author of eleven historical novels, including the 9-book Valerius Verrens series, which involves his Hero of Rome in conspiracies, battles, and intrigues from the Boudiccan rebellion in 60AD to the battle of Mons Graupius in 84AD. His next book, appropriately titled The Wall, will be published in 2022. His first job when he left school at sixteen was helping to restore one of Julius Agricola’s marching camps in the Cheviot Hills. The Romans have fascinated him ever since, to the point where he's managed to make a living out of writing about them. With Hadrian’s Wall almost on his doorstep, there was never any doubt he'd set a book there.

Douglas' book list on Hadrian’s Wall and the soldiers who manned it

Why did Douglas love this book?

When I’m researching a historical novel, I always find that I have what I think of as my ‘bible’, the go-to book I turn to when I am stuck for the kind of detail that gives a book layers and makes people think, or even for inspiration. Breeze and Dobson were my go-to experts when I was writing The Wall, which is set in the twilight years of a dying Roman Britain. Hadrian’s Wall places these island’s greatest and most fascinating Roman monument in the context of the Empire and examines in forensic detail its construction, development, function and decline over a period of almost three hundred years, introducing along the way the men who built it and garrisoned it. The Wall as we know it is very different from that originally envisaged by Hadrian and we know, from the alterations that took place over the centuries, that its purpose…

By Brian Dobson, David J Breeze,

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?

A penetrating and lucid history of the best-known and most spectacular monument to the Roman Empire in Britain. Taking into account new research findings about the building of the Wall, Breeze and Dobson include fascinating details about the Roman army, its religion and daily bureaucratic life. A selection of photos, maps and diagrams help make this a book for both the expert and the layman, being simultaneously erudite and unusually accessible.


The Ivy Tree

By Mary Stewart,

Book cover of The Ivy Tree

Muna Shehadi Author Of The First Wife

From the list on knocking you off your ass-umptions.

Who am I?

People either love or hate surprises, but in a book, done well, they’re always welcome—whether we race to the last page to find them or they hip-check us along the way. I started my career writing comedy romance—comfort reads but with few surprises. Now in my novels, I make sure to give readers plenty they don’t expect, whether it’s a character who isn’t what s/he seems, a contradictory situation gradually made clear, or a jaw-dropping twist. Pulling off a successful surprise is one of my favorite parts of writing—therefore my love of books that take me somewhere I didn't expect.

Muna's book list on knocking you off your ass-umptions

Why did Muna love this book?

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.

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,…


Book cover of Garrison Life at Vindolanda

Douglas Jackson Author Of Hero of Rome

From the list on Hadrian’s Wall and the soldiers who manned it.

Who am I?

Douglas Jackson is the author of eleven historical novels, including the 9-book Valerius Verrens series, which involves his Hero of Rome in conspiracies, battles, and intrigues from the Boudiccan rebellion in 60AD to the battle of Mons Graupius in 84AD. His next book, appropriately titled The Wall, will be published in 2022. His first job when he left school at sixteen was helping to restore one of Julius Agricola’s marching camps in the Cheviot Hills. The Romans have fascinated him ever since, to the point where he's managed to make a living out of writing about them. With Hadrian’s Wall almost on his doorstep, there was never any doubt he'd set a book there.

Douglas' book list on Hadrian’s Wall and the soldiers who manned it

Why did Douglas love this book?

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…

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…


Wounds of Honour

By Anthony Riches,

Book cover of Wounds of Honour

Duncan Lay Author Of Bridge of Swords

From the list on rampaging Romans bathed in barbarian blood.

Who am I?

I have a fascination for Roman history, having been born in the UK, and visiting Hadrian’s Wall. I have read many, many works of both history and historical fiction about Rome. To me, these five are the most memorable. Obviously the story has to be fantastic but it's important to be accurate. The opening battle in Gladiator annoyed me because the Romans never broke lines to fight man to man with barbarians. The concept of the Celts living among the rubble of the Empire, of being surrounded by things they cannot understand helped inspire my Empire Of Bones series. I even have a gladius sword and use it to inspire my own battle scenes. 

Duncan's book list on rampaging Romans bathed in barbarian blood

Why did Duncan love this book?

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.

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.


Hadrian's Wall

By Derry Brabbs,

Book cover of Hadrian's Wall

Douglas Jackson Author Of Hero of Rome

From the list on Hadrian’s Wall and the soldiers who manned it.

Who am I?

Douglas Jackson is the author of eleven historical novels, including the 9-book Valerius Verrens series, which involves his Hero of Rome in conspiracies, battles, and intrigues from the Boudiccan rebellion in 60AD to the battle of Mons Graupius in 84AD. His next book, appropriately titled The Wall, will be published in 2022. His first job when he left school at sixteen was helping to restore one of Julius Agricola’s marching camps in the Cheviot Hills. The Romans have fascinated him ever since, to the point where he's managed to make a living out of writing about them. With Hadrian’s Wall almost on his doorstep, there was never any doubt he'd set a book there.

Douglas' book list on Hadrian’s Wall and the soldiers who manned it

Why did Douglas love this book?

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.

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…


Pax

By Tom Holland,

Book cover of Pax: War and Peace in Rome's Golden Age

Ian J. Miller Author Of Spoliation

From Ian's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Research scientist Composer Retired Theoretician

Ian's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Ian love this book?

This is non-fiction, essentially a history of the Flavian Imperators. It starts with the death of Nero, and the chaos that followed in the year of the four Emperors. It covers Vespasian, Titus, Nerva, Trajan and Hadrian, the Roman empire essentially over-reaching itself under Trajan, and pulled back by Hadrian.

Two of my novels are set during the times of Tiberius, Caligulae and Claudius, and having carried out the research into those times I found it fascinating to see what had changed in the way Romans behaved and what had not.

The book is very well-written, and shows how Rome held on, even though only just at times, while the indications of future problems are there.

By Tom Holland,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The definitive history of Rome's golden age - antiquity's ultimate superpower at the pinnacle of its greatness

The Pax Romana has long been revered as a golden age. At its peak, the Roman Empire stretched from Scotland to Arabia, and contained perhaps a quarter of humanity. It was the wealthiest and most formidable state the world had yet seen.

Beginning in 69AD, a year that saw four Caesars in succession rule the empire, and ending some seven decades later with the death of Hadrian, Pax presents a dazzling history of Rome at the height of its power. From the gilded…


Hadrian's Wall

By Matthew Symonds,

Book cover of Hadrian's Wall: Creating Division

Simon Elliott Author Of Roman Britain's Missing Legion: What Really Happened to IX Hispana?

From the list on Roman Britain.

Who am I?

Dr. Simon Elliott is an award-winning and best-selling historian, archaeologist, author, broadcaster, Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Kent, Trustee of the Council for British Archaeology, Ambassador for Museum of London Archaeology, Guide Lecturer for Andante Travels, and President of the Society of Ancients. He frequently appears on broadcast and social media as a presenter and expert regarding the ancient world, and currently has 12 books on sale on similar themes, with three more due later this year. He is also a PR Week award-winning, highly experienced communications practitioner who has advised a wide variety of clients at a senior level on their interaction with the world of the media and politics. 

Simon's book list on Roman Britain

Why did Simon love this book?

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. 

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.…


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

Douglas Jackson Author Of Hero of Rome

From the list on Hadrian’s Wall and the soldiers who manned it.

Who am I?

Douglas Jackson is the author of eleven historical novels, including the 9-book Valerius Verrens series, which involves his Hero of Rome in conspiracies, battles, and intrigues from the Boudiccan rebellion in 60AD to the battle of Mons Graupius in 84AD. His next book, appropriately titled The Wall, will be published in 2022. His first job when he left school at sixteen was helping to restore one of Julius Agricola’s marching camps in the Cheviot Hills. The Romans have fascinated him ever since, to the point where he's managed to make a living out of writing about them. With Hadrian’s Wall almost on his doorstep, there was never any doubt he'd set a book there.

Douglas' book list on Hadrian’s Wall and the soldiers who manned it

Why did Douglas love this book?

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…

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,…


Book cover of Black British History: New Perspectives

Onyeka Nubia Author Of Blackamoores: Africans in Tudor England, Their Presence, Status and Origins

From the list on history books about everyone and for everyone.

Who am I?

Dr. Onyeka Nubia is a pioneering and internationally recognised historian, writer, and presenter. He is reinventing our perceptions of diversity, the Renaissance, and British history. Onyeka is the leading historian on the status and origins of Africans in pre-colonial England from antiquity to 1603. He has helped academia and the general public to entirely new perspectives on otherness, colonialism, imperialism, and World Wars I and II. He has written over fifty articles on Englishness, Britishness, and historical method and they have appeared in the most popular UK historical magazines and periodicals including History Today and BBC History Magazine. Onyeka has been a consultant and presenter for several television programmes on BBC.

Onyeka's book list on history books about everyone and for everyone

Why did Onyeka love this book?

New Perspectives shows us that Black British history is a complex field of historiography. No longer should we look at it as a sketchy, speculative, politically correct apologia for historical investigation. But rather see, that for more than three generations scholars have worked very hard to establish a vigorous pedagogy. It is a pedagogy that supports wider British histories, but subverts the traditional trajectories of those narratives. This book introduces us to some of the major developments in Black British history and it is an excellent place to start for a reader who knows very little about this subject.         

By Hakim Adi,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For over 1500 years before the Empire Windrush docked on British shores, people of African descent have played a significant and far-ranging role in the country's history, from the African soldiers on Hadrian's Wall to the Black British intellectuals who made London a hub of radical, Pan-African ideas. But while there has been a growing interest in this history, there has been little recognition of the sheer breadth and diversity of the Black British experience, until now.

This collection combines the latest work from both established and emerging scholars of Black British history. It spans the centuries from the first…


The Wall

By Alistair Moffat,

Book cover of The Wall: Rome's Greatest Frontier

Douglas Jackson Author Of Hero of Rome

From the list on Hadrian’s Wall and the soldiers who manned it.

Who am I?

Douglas Jackson is the author of eleven historical novels, including the 9-book Valerius Verrens series, which involves his Hero of Rome in conspiracies, battles, and intrigues from the Boudiccan rebellion in 60AD to the battle of Mons Graupius in 84AD. His next book, appropriately titled The Wall, will be published in 2022. His first job when he left school at sixteen was helping to restore one of Julius Agricola’s marching camps in the Cheviot Hills. The Romans have fascinated him ever since, to the point where he's managed to make a living out of writing about them. With Hadrian’s Wall almost on his doorstep, there was never any doubt he'd set a book there.

Douglas' book list on Hadrian’s Wall and the soldiers who manned it

Why did Douglas love this book?

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…

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…