Hadrain’s Wall Illuminated

Saturday 13th March saw the spectacular illumination of Hadrian’s Wall, bringing to life Britain’s longest, and greatest, historic monument.

500 individual points of light, at roughly 250 metre intervals, marked the way along the route of the 84 mile Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail.

Roman archer firing a burning arrow

Roman archer firing a burning arrow. Pic Steve Barber

The volunteer Illuminators included hundreds of people from the communities around Hadrian’s Wall, as well as enthusiasts from across the country, including places like London, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester, and even a number of people from overseas.


Some of the Illuminators were marking key moments in their own lives such as birthdays and anniversaries.

Carol Bell, Head of Culture and Major Events for culture10 at Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, said:

“The development of this project has been an incredible journey that could not have been possible without the extraordinary commitment of so many partners. It is a fitting tribute to our unique landscape, and a celebration of its history.”

The Ignition event for Illuminating Hadrian’s Wall started at Segedunum Roman Fort at Wallsend in the North East of England at 5.15pm with a performance by Berlin based Theatre Anu.

Angels appeared around the ruins of the fort to tell the story of ‘The Winged Boy’ as the skies began to dim.  The first of the lights were illuminated half an hour later.


The line of light then began its journey westwards.

Along the way it passed through the vibrant cities of Newcastle and Carlisle, and some of England’s most beautiful countryside, from rolling fields to rugged moorland.

Fireshow to welcome the light in Carlisle

Welcoming the torch to Carlisle. Pic D.Fowler & H. Fleming

In Carlisle thousands of people took part in a torchlight procession, leaving the city centre at about 6pm to meet the line of light as it passed through Bitts Park.

The final gas beacon was lit at Bowness-on-Solway on the Cumbrian coast at about 6.50pm and the full line of light remained illuminated until about 7.15pm.

Tourism week

It’s the first time that the full length of Hadrian’s Wall from Wallsend in the North East to Bowness-on-Solway in the North West has been illuminated in more than 1,600 years.

Illuminating Hadrian’s Wall was an ambitious project led by Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Ltd which forms part of the world-class programme of festivals and events developed by the culture10 team based at Newcastle Gateshead Initiative and the Lakes Alive programme in Carlisle presented by Kendal Arts International and Manchester International Arts.

Illuminating Hadrian’s Wall is also a flagship event of British Tourism Week 2010.

Roman Soldiers at Bowness

Roman Soldiers at Bowness. Pic Steve Barber

To get more information about the event visit www.illuminatinghadrianswall.com.

Carbon offset

Calor Gas provided official sponsorship by providing 550 gas cylinders and just under half of the 515 torches used to light the wall.

Drawing on its 75 year history of innovation, Calor and manufacturer Bullfinch worked together to create bespoke torches which could produce a safe, controllable and sizeable flame.

Hadrian’s Wall Heritage Ltd will be calculating the carbon cost of the event and offsetting the carbon emissions through a programme of tree planting. However, a voluntary blackout will also make an additional contribution towards offsetting the carbon costs.

World Heritage Site

Hadrian’s Wall formed the Roman frontier across the north of England for almost 300 years.

It was built in AD122 by the Roman army on the orders of the Emperor Hadrian.

In 1987 it was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and in 2005 became part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site.

Today it attracts visitors from all over the world.

The Hadrian’s Wall National Path closely follows the original line of Hadrian’s Wall.

Hadrian's wall illuminated by over 500 burning torches

Hadrian's wall illuminated by over 500 burning torches. Pic Roger Clegg

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