This project provided an exploration of the significance of the Wall and its landscape as both monument and icon, from the time of the Romans to today. What role has it played in ideas about the origins of ‘civilisation’ and the identities of self (English, British) and others (Scots, colonial subjects, etc.)? How has its monumentality shaped the work of scholars and the experiences of locals and visitors? How have understandings shifted as the physical experience of the Wall has changed from north-south (in the past) to east-west (in the present)?
The project drew upon histories, handbooks, maps, excavation reports, novels, poems, works of art, photographs, museum displays and websites to explore how understandings have developed. The methodology assessed divergent individual and group claims, including scholars, local people and foreign visitors. Assessment of the impact of the Wall upon people drew upon approaches to other linear sites, including Roman roads and the Great Wall of China. Through an evaluation of ideas about the linearity and permeability of the monument, the project addressed the historical context within which the Wall has been interpreted, publicised, visited and displayed.