What did the soldiers think of Hadrian’s plan? Well, it didn’t really matter did it? He was the emperor of Rome, and it didn’t pay to disappoint him. Favourably, the soldiers were not starting from scratch. A network of Roman roads and forts already existed in the area. In fact, the Stanegate, a road running from Carlisle to Corbridge, was possibly used as a frontier already. What’s more, the soldiers stationed on the Stanegate would know that the rolling hills, the Whin Sill escarpments and the Solway-Firth were all good strategic places to build the Wall.
The first part of business was to survey and fix the exact line of the Wall. The surveyors chose a route running from the banks of the River Tyne to the shores of the Solway Firth via the most strategic ground possible. But can you guess how they decided what this was?
Once the route had been fixed, the legions could really get to work. Construction was divided into lengths (possibly about five miles) where gangs of legionaries excavated the Wall foundations, building milecastles and turrets as they went along. Things appear to have been progressing very well (in the east, the Wall may have even reached the valley of the North Tyne). However, suddenly, the soldiers had to face a big change in priorities.
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