Patricia Southern
Amberley Publishing, £12.99
ISBN 978-1445690759
Review Edward Biddulph

As the author herself asks, why do we need another book on Hadrian’s Wall? The question is conclusively answered over the course of the book’s 400 pages. It includes the standard sections on, for example, the history, construction, and purpose of the Wall, but it digs deeper than many volumes into the Wall’s management. The book takes a detailed look at Hadrian himself, examines the region before the Wall was built, and throughout weaves in information on life experienced by soldiers and civilians alike.

We read about the Wall’s diverse population, what they wore, the sort of food and drink they consumed, the gods they worshipped, civilian settlements on the frontier, and much more. Inevitably, much is gleaned from the Vindolanda writing tablets, whose relevance, given that they largely pre-date the Wall, could be questioned. More, too, could have been made of the material culture recovered from the Wall.

Nevertheless, Patricia Southern’s book is highly readable, well-illustrated, and informative, and deserves to be added to the list of essential books on the Wall.

This review appeared in CA 353.

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