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Hadrian's Wall

Tom Holland views Heathrow in the Iron Age and asks if a mound in a Slough car park could be a Saxon burial site. Also, the 1,900th anniversary of Hadrian becoming Emperor of Rome.

Tom Holland travels north to mark the 1900th anniversary of Hadrian becoming Emperor, by examining the impact of his biggest legacy in Britain - Hadrian's Wall.

We also take-off for Heathrow to learn about its Iron Age origins and ask if a mound near a car park in Slough could really be a Saxon burial site.

Producer: Nick Patrick
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

Available now

28 minutes


Tom Holland is joined by Dr Julia Farley who is responsible for is for the British and continental European Iron Age collections at the British Museum and Dr Rob Colins, Lecturer in Material Culture at the University of Newcastle and author of Hadrian's Wall and the End of Empire.


The Destruction of Mosul

As so-called Islamic State are dislodged by Iraqi forces from their occupation of the ancient city of Mosul, Professor Eleanor Robson  joins Tom to discuss the damage done to the archaeology there.

Further Information

The Independent

The Gates of Nineveh a blog by Christopher Jones  a Ph.D student in ancient Near Eastern history at Columbia University in New York

National Geographic

New Findings at Vindolanda

A cache of letters written by Roman troops serving at the fort of Vindolanda  on Hadrian’s Wall have been uncovered by archaeologists. Tom spoke with the Director of the trust that runs the site, Andrew Birley. A similar find was made 25 years ago in 1992 and can be explored at Vindolanda Tablets Online

Further Information

The Guardian

Life at Vindolanda  BBC History

Hadrian’s Wall - A Cultural History

2017 is the 1900th anniversary of the accession of Emperor Hadrian the man behind the wall which stretches from Newcastle to the Solway Firth. Tom visited the wall to discuss its place in our cultural history. He was joined by the author of Hadrian’s Wall: A Life, Professor Richard Hingley; the Poet Katrina Porteus  and the Lecturer in Regional History at the University of Lancashire, Dr Christopher Donaldson

Katrina Porteus reads extracts from her poem `This Far and No Further' which draws upon the voices and sounds of those living in the wall's shadow. More information available from Bloodaxe Books

Roman Concrete

Geologists have discovered that the Romans were able to manufacture a concrete which, in marine conditions, would continue to strengthen and become more resilient with age. Helen Castor spoke to one of the people who have been working on this find Dr Marie Jackson at the University of Utah

The original research was published in The American Mineralogist and it has been reported in a number of publications, including Science Magazine and Nature

The Sutton Hoo of Slough

Could a mound in the middle of Slough really be a Saxon burial site? Jim Leary who leads the Round Mounds Project  at the University of Reading thinks there’s every chance it might be. He and his fellow researchers have found that by taking a sample core through the middle of similar mounds what were once thought of as Norman mottes can be hundreds of years earlier in origin.

Making History is Produced by Nick Patrick and is a Pier Production for BBC Radio 4