Monday 23 October 2017

HADRIAN’S WALL: Boundary Monument for the Northern Frontier of Roman Britannia – talk by John F. Brock

Much hypothesis and over-thinking has taken place over hundreds of years in an effort to attribute purposes for the raison d’etre of the wall across northern Britain erected at the behest of the formidable Roman Emperor whose name has been ultimately used to describe this intriguing edifice.

Was it built for defence, border control, a demonstration of power or any number of associated intentions as a strategic military device at the extremity of the territorial outskirts of the Great Empire? Many postulations have been advanced by engineers, stone masons, clerks of works, military experts, academics, archaeologists, historians, paleontologists and all the usual suspects.

Well it just so happens that I am not just a practising “historical detective” (as I label those in my profession!) but I am an active field historian with a Masters in Egyptology from Macquarie University in Sydney. In addition to this area of personal and professional interest I have done considerable research on ancient Greek and Roman surveying together with a diversion into China’s surveyors of antiquity as a background to my paper “The Great Wall of China: The World’s Greatest Boundary Monument!”

In this analysis I will be putting forward my offering to the discussion table about the main reasons for the erection of such a notable memorial to the time in the renowned civilisation during the second century. After I elaborate further on the wall’s design with specific attention drawn to certain features not before grouped together along with a focus on the desires and intentions of Emperor Hadrian himself there may be some agreement that this iconic line across the topography is a true boundary monument in the ancient Roman traditions as a demarcation line of the northern limit of the Empire’s frontier at its north western territory second century extremity.

John Brock has been a private land surveyor since 1973, Bachelor of Surveying (UNSW 1978), MA (Egyptology) from Macquarie Uni., Sydney (2000), Registered Surveyor NSW 1981. Now Director of Brock Surveys at Parramatta (near Sydney). Papers presented worldwide inc. Egypt, Germany, France, Hong Kong, Canada, Brunei, New Zealand, Greece, UK, USA, Israel, PNG, Sweden, Italy, Nigeria, Malaysia, Morocco, Bulgaria and Finland. Since 2002 regular column Downunder Currents, RICS magazine (London) Geomatics World. Stalwart of FIG Institution: History of Surveying & Measurement awarded FIG Article of the Month March 2005 for: “Four Surveyors of the Gods: XVIII Dynasty of New Kingdom Egypt (c.1400 BC)”, January 2012 – “Four Surveyors of Caesar: Mapping the World”, June 2014 – “The Great Wall of China: The World’s Greatest Boundary Monument” & April 2017 – “Hadrian’s Wall: Boundary Monument for the Northern Frontier of Roman Britannia.” Institution of Surveyors NSW Awards – Halloran Award 1996 for Contributions to Surveying History, Fellow ISNSW 1990 & 2002 Professional Surveyor of the Year. First international Life Member of the Surveyors Historical Society (USA), Rundle Foundation for Egyptian Archaeology & Parramatta Historical Society, Foundation Member Australian National Maritime Museum & Friends of National Museum of Australia. Member of Bradman Crest, International Map Collectors Society, Royal Australian Historical Society, Hills District Historical Society, Prospect Heritage Trust, Friend of Fossils (Canowindra), Friends of May’s Hill Cemetery and St. John’s Cemetery.

Venue: History House, 133 Macquarie Street, Sydney

Time: 5.30 for 6 pm

Cost: Includes light refreshments on arrival; RAHS and ASHET members $10, others $12

Bookings: phone RAHS on (02) 9247 8001 or email