This film is part of Free

The Living Wall: A Personal View of Hadrian's Wall

Acclaimed author Hunter Davies travels the length of a magnificent Roman wall that stretches from industrial Tyneside to the Solway Firth.

Factual TV 1974 52 mins

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Logo for North East Film Archive


The author Hunter Davies follows the route of Hadrian’s Wall in the shadow of the Roman soldiers who built it - ‘great bricklayers’, ‘beautifully hygienic’ and fond of carving phallic symbols for good luck. This travelogue is brimming with historical insights, contemporary observations and sociological quips about a great military legacy, which first gave the North East its status as a romantically bleak frontier land.

Hunter Davies, a former Durham University history student, wrote the only authorised biography of The Beatles in 1968 and published several books on football including “Boots, Balls and Haircuts” in 2003. The author can’t resist the odd soccer reference in this enjoyable Tyne Tees and Border TV documentary, based on his book ‘A Walk along the Wall’. The film records a one-year, seventy-three mile tramp from Wallsend (where five of the hugely successful Swan Hunters shipyards were on strike when Davies visited), through the still feudal Northumbrian estates, and on to Bowness on Solway in Cumbria, the eerie main street of which he likens to ‘a left over from High Noon. The villagers are as scarce as Romans.’