Examining the everyday impact of Hadrian's Wall over the three centuries it was in operation, this book tells the human story of the Wall and explores its rich legacy. Once thought to be a soft border, Matthew Symonds discusses how the evidence speaks instead of a hard border scything through a previously open landscape at terrible human cost. Recent research has shown that it triggered the collapse of a farming civilisation centuries in the making, and seemingly ushered in an insurgency characterised by violence, upheaval, and crime. Instead of being products of the Classical world, the Roman soldiers posted to the Wall were overwhelmingly recruits from the empire's occupied territories. For them, the frontier was a place of fear and magic where supernatural protection would be invoked during spells of guard duty.

Hadrian's Wall has since repeatedly been invoked during times of national anxiety: it provided a model of selfless cultural collaboration when the British Empire needed reassurance, a symbol of cross-border trade when the UK joined the EEC, and a warning about the perils of division during the Scottish referendum. It has also inspired creatives for over a century, from Kipling's Puck of Pook's Hill to Martin's A Game of Thrones. Combining both the archaeological monument and its contemporary relevance this volume presents a much-needed reliable, modern perspective on the Wall.