43. Was Hadrian’s Wall inspired by the Great Wall of China?

Although it has been suggested the Great Wall of China may have influenced Hadrian’s Wall, there is no evidence to support this. Moreover, during the 2nd century AD, the Chinese wall, or rather walls, since there never was just one, were very different to the Ming dynasty brick-built wall near Beijing that is such a familiar image these days. Those other, earlier, walls were mainly rammed earth within timber shuttering (in other words, a box rampart). Contact existed between China and Rome and there even seem to have been emissaries sent to the Chinese court in the 2nd century AD, but any attempt to seek external influence for the design of Hadrian’s Wall is, at best, fanciful.

Further reading: Campbell 1989; Man 2008