The Timber Wall
The Northern Frontier
Also the stakes are quite different. For the Greeks consider that stake the best which has the most and the stoutest offshoots all round the main stem, while the stakes of the Romans have but two or three, or at the most four strange lateral prongs, and these all on one side and not alternating. The result of this is that they are quite easy to carry — for one man can carry three or four, making a bundle of them, and when put to use they are much more secure.
For the Greek stakes, when planted round the camp, are in the first place easily pulled up; since when the portion of a stake that holds fast closely pressed by the earth is only one, and the offshoots from it are many and large, and when two or three men catch hold of the same stake by its lateral branches, it is easily pulled up.
Upon this an entrance is at once created owing to its size, and the ones next to it are loosened, because in such a palisade the stakes are intertwined and criss-crossed in few places.
With the Romans it is the reverse; for in planting them they so intertwine them that it is not easy to see to which of the branches, the lower ends of which are driven into the ground, the lateral prongs belong, nor to which prongs the branches belong. So, as these prongs are close together and adhere to each other, and as their points are carefully sharpened, it is not easy to pass one's hand through and grasp the stake, nor if one does get hold of it, is it easy to pull it up, as in the first place the power of resistance derived from the earth by all the portions open to attack is almost absolute, and next because a man who pulls at one prong is obliged to lift up numerous other stakes which give simultaneously under the strain owing to the way they are intertwined, and it is not at all probable that two or three men will get hold of the same stake.
But if by main force a man succeeds in pulling up one or two, the gap is scarcely observable. Therefore, as the advantages of this kind of palisade are very great, the stakes being easy to find and easy to carry and the whole being more secure and more durable when constructed, it is evident that if any Roman military contrivance is worthy of our imitation and adoption this one certainly is, in my own humble opinion at least.
- Form the foundations of the wall;
- Hold the horizontal components in position;
- Support the fighting platforms.
- Two sets of posts allows for two fighting platforms at different heights.
- Thick end at the back, thin end pointed to the front;
- Made from standard lengths of timber 10 –12’;
- Stubs of branches help interlock the baulk.
- At an angle [60° to axis];
- Running across the structure [90° to axis];
- Parallel to the axis behind or in font the lines of posts.
- Simple design;
- Standard components;
- Simple to fabricate;
- Flexible, offering multiple configurations;
- Very strong interlocked and braced structure;
- Difficult to penetrate;
- Individual components difficult to remove;
- Can be dismantled and reused.
- Laid out in straight lengths;
- Gentle corners;
- Avoids steep or uneven gradients;
- Avoids soft ground;
- Where it had to cross soft ground, the central trench is formed between earth banks;
- Follows close behind the wall and forts;
- Starts from a bridgehead at Newcastle;
- It has been suggested there were originally gaps in the northern spoil mound corresponding to milecastles.
- Vallum Road abandoned and in places backfilled;
- Wall completed as Narrow Wall.
- The presence of the temporary Wall explains why the majority of the spoil from the ditch was thrown north, with only a small glacis bank to the south.
- The Vallum was completed [Step 5], while foundation trench for the Wall [Step 6], was not.
- Digging of a road foundation suggests there was plenty of less-skilled labour available early in the project, and emphasises the importance of a proper road in the overall scheme.
Bidwell, Paul T. & Watson, Moira. 1989. 'A Trial Excavation on Hadrian's Wall at Buddle Street, Wallsend'.Archaeologia Aeliana, 5th ser., 17 (1989), 21-28.
 Breeze, D.J. 2003. "Warfare in Britain and the Building of Hadrian's Wall." Archaeologia Aeliana 32, 13 –16.
English translation by W. A. MacDevitt, introduction by Thomas De Quincey. (1915) http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/10657 [Accessed 18/12/11]