Top 5 Forts to Visit on Hadrian’s Wall

by | Activities, Attractions

This article is part of our Discover Alston series. You can find more articles here


Nestled in the heart of Northumberland, these top 5 forts to visit on Hadrian’s Wall offer a captivating journey into the history of Roman Britain. Each fort, with its unique features and stunning landscapes, provides a glimpse into the lives of Roman soldiers and civilians, making them must-visit destinations for history enthusiasts and casual travelers alike.

Forts to Visit on Hadrian’s Wall

1. Birdoswald Roman Fort

Birdoswald Roman Fort - One of the Top 5 Forts to visit on Hadrian's Wall, featuring well-preserved ruins against a lush green landscape.

Birdoswald Roman Fort offers a stunning view of the River Irthing and is one of the best-preserved forts along Hadrian’s Wall.

Distance from Alston: Approximately 19 miles

Birdoswald Roman Fort stands as one of the best-preserved forts on Hadrian’s Wall. Situated on a commanding hilltop overlooking the River Irthing, Birdoswald offers a fascinating glimpse into Roman military life. The fort’s extensive remains include the walls, gates, granaries, and barracks, all set against the backdrop of stunning Cumbrian landscapes. Visitors can explore the interactive exhibits at the visitor center and enjoy refreshments at the on-site café.

2. Housesteads Roman Fort

Housesteads Roman Fort - One of the Top 5 Forts to visit on Hadrian's Wall, showcasing extensive ruins with panoramic countryside views.

Housesteads Roman Fort, perched on a ridge, provides breathtaking views and a deep dive into Roman military history.

Distance from Alston: Approximately 21 miles

Housesteads Roman Fort is one of the most iconic sites along Hadrian’s Wall. Known for its impressive state of preservation, Housesteads allows visitors to walk through the ruins of barracks, a hospital, and the commanding officer’s house. The fort’s location on a ridge offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The visitor center and museum provide in-depth insights into the daily lives of Roman soldiers stationed here.

3. Vindolanda

Vindolanda - One of the Top 5 Forts to visit on Hadrian's Wall, known for its ongoing archaeological excavations and significant artifacts.

Vindolanda is renowned for its rich archaeological finds, including the famous Vindolanda tablets, offering a unique glimpse into Roman life

Distance from Alston: Approximately 23 miles

Vindolanda Roman Fort is one of the best forts to visit on Hadrian’s Wall. This  extraordinary archaeological site that has yielded some of the most significant Roman artifacts ever discovered in Britain, including the famous Vindolanda tablets. These tablets, written on wooden leaves, offer a rare and intimate look at life on the Roman frontier. The site includes remains of the fort, a civilian settlement, bathhouses, and an extensive on-site museum that showcases many of these artifacts. Active archaeological excavations continue to reveal new insights, and visitors can often watch the archaeologists at work.

4. Chesters Roman Fort (Cilurnum)

Chesters Roman Fort - One of the Top 5 Forts to visit on Hadrian's Wall, featuring well-preserved bathhouse ruins along the River North Tyne.

Chesters Roman Fort is beautifully located by the River North Tyne and is famed for its well-preserved bathhouse.

Distance from Alston: Approximately 27 miles

Chesters Roman Fort is beautifully situated along the River North Tyne. Known for its exceptionally well-preserved bathhouse, unique among the best forts to visit on Hadrian’s Wall, Chesters offers visitors the chance to explore the remains of the barracks, headquarters building, and the commander’s house. The on-site museum features an impressive collection of Roman artifacts, including inscriptions and sculptures. After exploring the fort, you can enjoy pleasant riverside walks in the tranquil surroundings.

5. Corbridge Roman Town (Coria)

Corbridge Roman Town - One of the Top 5 Forts to visit on Hadrian's Wall, showcasing the remains of a major Roman supply base.

Corbridge Roman Town provides a comprehensive look at Roman urban life, with its extensive remains of streets, shops, and granaries.

Distance from Alston: Approximately 28 miles

Although not a fort, Corbridge Roman Town was a major supply base for Hadrian’s Wall and is well worth a visit. Corbridge offers a unique perspective on Roman urban life, with remains of granaries, a fountain house, and streets lined with ancient shops. The museum at Corbridge houses a wide range of artifacts, from tools and weapons to personal items used by the Romans. This site provides a comprehensive view of both military and civilian life in Roman Britain.

Salvin House: The Perfect Base

Salvin House in Alston is not just a place to stay; it’s the perfect base for your Roman adventure. Alston itself is a picturesque town with charming streets, local shops, and cozy cafes, offering a delightful respite after a day of exploration. Staying at Salvin House means you are within a comfortable driving distance of these top forts on Hadrian’s Wall, allowing you to immerse yourself in the rich history and breathtaking landscapes of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Now you know which forts to visit on Hadrian’s Wall. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply looking for a unique getaway, the combination of Salvin House’s hospitality and the historical wonders of Hadrian’s Wall will make your visit an unforgettable experience.





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