It took him nigh on 2,000 years, but Hadrian, the Roman emperor, has finally returned to inspect his legacy – the he built to consolidate the borders of his empire and to control the troublesome Scots.
A priceless bronze head of Hadrian, one and a quarter times lifesize, which was recovered from the Thames in 1834 where it had lain preserved by silt, has been installed at Wallsend. It was accompanied on its historic return by Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum, where it will star in this summer’s exhibition Hadrian: Empire and Conflict.
Mr MacGregor said: “This is a great moment – to reunite Hadrian with his wall. I thought it was profoundly moving to see him there.” Hadrian is believed to have travelled to the North in AD122, to oversee the design of his strategic 73-mile barrier that stretched across the country from west to east. He never saw it completed.