The best books about Hadrian's Wall

1 authors have picked their favorite books about Hadrian's Wall and why they recommend each book.

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Hadrian's Wall

By Brian Dobson, David J Breeze,

Book cover of Hadrian's Wall

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…

Hadrian's Wall

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.

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.


I wrote...

Hero of Rome

By Douglas Jackson,

Book cover of Hero of Rome

What is my book about?

Rome's grip on Britain is weakening. Roman cruelty and exploitation has angered their British subjects; the Druids are on the rise; the warrior queen Boudicca will lead the tribes to war. The Roman Tribune, Gaius Valerius Verrens must lead the legionary veterans at Colonia in a last stand against the rising tide of rebellion and the unstoppable horde of Boudicca's rebel army.

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…


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.


I wrote...

Hero of Rome

By Douglas Jackson,

Book cover of Hero of Rome

What is my book about?

Rome's grip on Britain is weakening. Roman cruelty and exploitation has angered their British subjects; the Druids are on the rise; the warrior queen Boudicca will lead the tribes to war. The Roman Tribune, Gaius Valerius Verrens must lead the legionary veterans at Colonia in a last stand against the rising tide of rebellion and the unstoppable horde of Boudicca's rebel army.

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,…

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.


I wrote...

Hero of Rome

By Douglas Jackson,

Book cover of Hero of Rome

What is my book about?

Rome's grip on Britain is weakening. Roman cruelty and exploitation has angered their British subjects; the Druids are on the rise; the warrior queen Boudicca will lead the tribes to war. The Roman Tribune, Gaius Valerius Verrens must lead the legionary veterans at Colonia in a last stand against the rising tide of rebellion and the unstoppable horde of Boudicca's rebel army.

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…

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.


I wrote...

Hero of Rome

By Douglas Jackson,

Book cover of Hero of Rome

What is my book about?

Rome's grip on Britain is weakening. Roman cruelty and exploitation has angered their British subjects; the Druids are on the rise; the warrior queen Boudicca will lead the tribes to war. The Roman Tribune, Gaius Valerius Verrens must lead the legionary veterans at Colonia in a last stand against the rising tide of rebellion and the unstoppable horde of Boudicca's rebel army.

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.…

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. 


I wrote...

Roman Britain's Missing Legion: What Really Happened to IX Hispana?

By Simon Elliott, Simon Elliott,

Book cover of Roman Britain's Missing Legion: What Really Happened to IX Hispana?

What is my book about?

Legio IX Hispana had a long and active history, later in its career founding both Lincoln and York in Britain, from where it guarded the northern frontiers in the Roman province. However, it is last mentioned in history in AD 82 and epigraphy in AD 108, after which it completely disappears. The mystery of its disappearance has inspired debate and imagination for centuries. In his new best-selling work, Dr. Simon Elliott analyses whether it was most likely lost in the north of Britain, in the south here, on the Rhine or Danube, or in the east.

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.

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. 


I wrote...

Bridge of Swords

By Duncan Lay,

Book cover of Bridge of Swords

What is my book about?

Sendatsu is a warrior on the run, hunted by his own people. All he wants to do is get back to his children but, to do that, he’s going to have to wade through a river of gore and maybe save a country from a war-crazed king who wants to write his legacy in blood.

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…

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.


I wrote...

Hero of Rome

By Douglas Jackson,

Book cover of Hero of Rome

What is my book about?

Rome's grip on Britain is weakening. Roman cruelty and exploitation has angered their British subjects; the Druids are on the rise; the warrior queen Boudicca will lead the tribes to war. The Roman Tribune, Gaius Valerius Verrens must lead the legionary veterans at Colonia in a last stand against the rising tide of rebellion and the unstoppable horde of Boudicca's rebel army.

The Ivy Tree

By Mary Stewart,

Book cover of The Ivy Tree

The Ivy Tree is a classic by Mary Stewart, queen of the 20th-century gothic novel. I love all her novels, but I think this is her best. The first-person narrator is a savvy young woman who is persuaded to impersonate a heiress, and the twists and turns of the plot kept me guessing right to the end. The narrator is fascinating and filled with hidden depths. This is a book I re-read regularly because it’s a lesson in crafting the perfect psychological thriller, which is what a gothic novel is at its core.

The Ivy Tree

By Mary Stewart,

Why should I read it?

2 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,…


Who am I?

I’ve loved the gothic genre ever since I first read Jane Eyre as a student of Victorian Literature. My PhD thesis focused on Dracula, another Victorian gothic novel, and The Curse of Morton Abbey pays homage to classics like these. What I love most about the genre is its symbolism: like vivid dreams, gothic novels express our deepest fears and longings. It’s no accident that Jungian archetypes show up in gothic novels as often as they do in dreams, and I’ve enjoyed analyzing these texts in my work as an English professor. Also, I just really like stories that send chills up my spine and give my lifelong insomnia a purpose!


I wrote...

The Curse of Morton Abbey

By Clarissa Harwood,

Book cover of The Curse of Morton Abbey

What is my book about?

The Secret Garden meets Jane Eyre in a gothic tale of romantic suspense set in 1890s Yorkshire.

A young woman solicitor accepts a suspiciously lucrative offer of employment to prepare the sale of a crumbling estate, but when she arrives, the mysterious occupants of the house try to drive her away. As she is drawn deeper into the dark secrets of the family, she can’t be certain she’ll escape Morton Abbey with her sanity—or even her life—intact.

Book cover of Black British History: New Perspectives

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.         

Black British History

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…


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.


I wrote...

Blackamoores: Africans in Tudor England, Their Presence, Status and Origins

By Onyeka Nubia,

Book cover of Blackamoores: Africans in Tudor England, Their Presence, Status and Origins

What is my book about?

Do we think of English history as a book with white pages and no black letters in it? Tudor history is often portrayed as a ‘scared white space’ populated by personages such as: Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Walter Raleigh, Francis Drake, and of course William Shakespeare. But in Tudor times, Englishmen such as Thomas More, William Harrison, George Best, and Francis Bacon, described Africans ‘living amongst them.’ These Africans such as Henrie Anthonie Jetto, Mary Fillis of Morisco, Catalina de Motril, and Fortunatus left their mark on English society.

This book for the first time reveals that Africans in Tudor England were not all inferior slaves and that their history, is all our histories.

The Last Rainbow

By Parke Godwin,

Book cover of The Last Rainbow

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?   

The Last Rainbow

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.


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!”


I wrote...

The Wizard in the Wood: A Tale of Magic, Mystery, and Meaning

By Jim Willis,

Book cover of The Wizard in the Wood: A Tale of Magic, Mystery, and Meaning

What is my book about?

I have come to suspect that life is magical. It’s silly to pretend that magic doesn’t exist because we think we are too sophisticated to acknowledge it. Michael knew that. He lived his life with the certainty that magic surrounded him, through his every word and action. As I moved through my adulthood, I forgot how to see magic. I am the poorer for it. But now that I have finally, and fortunately, discovered it again, I feel the need to tell you about how at least one man lived in the glow of magic, and taught a young boy how to do the same.

Let me tell you the strange story of the wizard in the wood. If you’re lucky, it might change your life.

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