18. Where did the Wall builders live?

12604707685_a72c90dd4f_nIt is generally thought that the construction teams lived in a series of temporary camps that are known in the vicinity of the Wall. Such camps usually had turf ramparts, a ditch, and a palisade provided by the stakes that every Roman soldier carried on the march. The soldiers themselves lived in tents (sub pellibus or ‘under hides’ was the phrase, since those tents were made of leather) so this was normally only undertaken in the campaigning season (roughly March to October). Generals who kept their troops sub pellibus during the winter months (such as Corbulo in Armenia or Suetonius Paullinus after Boudica’s rebellion in Britain) tended to be viewed as extremists. We do not know if the British legions were made to work through the winter when constructing the Wall.

Further reading: Breeze and Dobson 2000; Symonds and Mason 2009

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