The atmospheric views on the Hadrian's Wall Path

Information for students - updated 7/3/2017

6th September 2015

I hope you find this blog useful. I have enjoyed listing important publications and reports that are key to the history of Hadrian's Wall Path. Managing visitors in a sensitive archaeological setting is both very challenging and rewarding.

This blog page is intended for anyone interested in studying heritage / access / cultural heritge / archaeological etc management, in particular the history of Hadrian's Wall Path.  In no particular order, and mostly as I find the time to pdf scan reports, many of which are no longer in print, over the coming months I intend adding an interesting collection files to this blog.  These are testing times for the National Trail and its associated archaeology within the World Heritage Site. Long gone are the heady days of generous HLF and government funding and  in four years the Trail's budget has been reduced by around 50%. It is abundantly clear that those days are not going to return, something that we accept, and we are making every effort to make good at least some of the shortfall that we believe is required if Trail is to managed in a sustainable way.  However, a shortfall does exist. There are also changing views on the Trail's very relationship with the World Heritage Site - see below.

Before we look at the history of the National Trail and the conservation management approach that, in theory at least, underpins how it is managed today, it is worth reflecting piece of legislation from the 1930s, the Ancient Monuments Act, 1931, that made possible the 1938 Roman Wall and Vallum Preservation Scheme.  The Schedule is difficult to find but you can download a copy here.

For a very brief introduction to some of the sources of information for the early history of National Trails in the UK this extract from a lecture might be of interest.  It is not a history of the pre-1945 access movement but is largely an account of some of the government backed reports that reflected the thinking of the time.

The 1976 DART report: 'Hadrian's Wall; a strategy for conservation and visitor services' has been cited in many reports in recent years but there are so few copies of it around that I wonder how many authors have actually read it.  Nevertheless, by documenting the visitor management problems facing the Wall at the time it became a defining report in the modern history of Hadrian's Wall.  It also pre-dates by a decade the inscription of Hadrian's Wall as a Wall World Heritage Site.  Scanned in installments: parts 1 - 3; part 4; parts 5 - 6; parts 7 - 8; parts 9 - 11; and finally part 12.

"The Strategy for Hadrian's Wall", followed in 1984 published by the Hadrian's Wall Consultative Committee. It was commissioned in response to the Dart report and recommended, amongst other visitor management initiatives, the creation of Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail.  It is no longer in print and I have pdf'd it in response to enquiries by students. 

The Countryside Commission (now called Natural England) decided to research a potential route for the Trail but it was also required to undertake an Archaeological Impact Assessment of the likely impact of additional visitors to the monument.  The report, published in 1992, is reproduced here, in four parts.  (Two of the pdfs are upside down so you will have to rotate the view. I had problems scanning the pages if the leading edge was form the former binding).  Part 1.  Part 2.  Part 3. Part 4 the Brief.

The Countryside Commission also commissioned and published a Landform and Condition Survey of the Proposed Hadrian's Wall National Trail.  The survey's aim was to influence the precise alignment of the proposed Trail in relation to the archaeology. 

A must read for the practical conservation management of archaeological earthworks is Andre Berry's 'Erosion on Archaeological Earthworks: its Prevention Control and Repair'.  Published in 1994 by the Clwyd archaeology service it is now sadly out of print although sometimes spotted on Ebay.

There is otherwise a paucity of published information on the subject but Neil Rimmington's 'Managing Archaeological Earthworks' published in 2004 by English Heritage, now of course Historic England, is a good place to start.  Neil and I swapped notes many times in the early noughties and I continue to monitor some of his project work written up in the manual.  Some techniques have proved to be successful while one or two others require follow-up action.  The important thing to remember is that when a Scheduled earthwork, part of a World Heritage Site, is being compromised, then doing nothing really should not be an option.  Download Neil's excellent report at

Another publication, still cited today, is the report from the Hexham (2000) seminar: 'Erosion Control on Archaeological Earthworks and Recreational Paths'. The aim of the seminar was to bring together both countryside and archaeological site managers to swap notes on areas of common ground, namely that of carrying capacity and the limits of acceptable change. Download selected papers.   

In 2001 the National Trail researched and published a Visitor 'Code of Respect' that was endorsed by the then World Heritage Site Management Plan Committee also as a World Heritage code.  The code comprised twelve graphic messages that were reproduced in the form of table coasters, book marks, and much more besides. Publishers including Harvey Maps, Footprint Maps, Cicerone, Rucksack Readers and the Aurum Press today include them in their books and on their maps. Recently it was decided that the code needed to be brought up to date, again as a Trail & World Heritage code. However, there is now a view that the Trail should not be equated with the World Heritage site, that it should be a stand along trail only code.  Any thoughts?

Managing, Using, and Interpreting Hadrian’s Wall as World Heritage. Edited by Peter G. Stone and David Brough. 2014. Springer Briefs in Archaeology, Springer, London. ISBN 978-1-4614-9350-1. This is essential reading for anyone interested in studying the history of the management of the World Heritage site since its inscription onto the World Heritage list in 1987.  Read a review by archaeologist Graeme Stobbs.

The contributors to the Springer book authored their chapters towards the end of the eight year period (2006 and 2014) when Hadrian's Wall Heritage (later Hadrian's Wall Trust) was the lead organisation for the coordination and management of the World Heritage Site.  It was a time for which there is unfortunately very little legacy.  By 2006 all of the National Trail's management systems were already in place and very little credit was given to the staff in the field.  The idea for the creation of a stand alone organisation to stand apart from local and national government was the 2004 'Hadrian's Wall Major Study Report', commissioned by the North West Development Agency and its north east equivalent, One North East.  Both regional development agencies were disbanded by the government oin 2012. 

A report by the Getty Foundation Institute: Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site: A Case Study published in 2003 was a field workbased assessment of the management structure of the World Heritage Site at the time.  Note that in 2014 the World Heritage Site Management Plan Committee was replaced by a World Heritage Site Partnership Board together with a completely new membership structure.  Another study in the making perhaps?  Also download the Getty report from

The Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site Management Plan is now up to its fourth iteration.  Version 1, July 1996;  Version 2, 2002 - 2007;  Version 3, 2008 - 2014; Version 3 appendices.

A full condition survey of the Trail and associated archaeology is undertaken every October / November.  It captures a snap shot in time account of how the Wall's soils have responded to soil moisture, visitor numbers, landuse and other issue such as burrowing animals and vegetation encroachment.  2012 was the year when it seemed never to stop raining on Hadrian's Wall and the photographic record, presented to the annual World Heritage Site promoted some serious discussion.

Fieldwork based monitoring data is essential to any heritage management project. Hadrian's Wall Path has the most complete set of monitoring data for any World Heritage Site, anywhere in the World; it has been cited as being of international importance.  We started collecting fixed-point photographic data in 1996 and gradually rolled out new sites as the Trail was developed. Today some 70+ sites along the Trail and World Heritage Site are monitored three times year.  While the annual autumn survey is an important snap shot in time the fixed-point photography enables us to track and understand long term trends in the condition of the Trail and, crucially, also the monument that lies underfoot.  This example shows changes in ground condition over a period of years in response to seasonal soil moisture, land use and visitor numbers.

During its development phase in the 1990s it was decided that the National Trail would be promoted as a spring, summer and autumn destination, but not as a winter one.  The decision was based on Met Office soil moisture data for which the long term mean indicates that, in a 'normal' year, the Wall's soils are at field capacity, or saturated, between November and April.  Saturated soils have a much lower carrying capacity are more easily damaged hence the so-called 'seasonal message' was coined; the aim is to try and protect the grass sward and, therefore, the underlying archaeology.  A seasonal Passport was established whereby walkers collect a set of seven stamps at official stamping stations but the stamps are only available between 1st May and 31st October each year and walkers must present a full set of stamps in order to qualify for the achievers' enamel badge and certificate.  To date the Passport remains very popular, a great deal of fun and an important part of the Trail's culture, but we also believe that it influences at least some walkers towards visiting the Trail during what are normally the drier months of the year.  For more details of the Passport scheme go to

The Flickr site: 'Visitor Management in Sensitive Landscapes' captures both good, and not so good, examples of visitor management in the field, mostly in sensitive historic landscapes

Cultural heritage site managers know that working within Scheduled Monuments quite properly requires Scheduled Monuments Consent.  On Hadrian's Wall Path we have pioneered for routine maintenance operations a Wall-wide 'Generic Scheduled Monuments Consent'. Version one, a mere two sides of A4, was drafted in 1998 and we are now working to Version 6.  The Generic SMC enables trained field staff to enact pre-approved maintenance technioques in the knowledge that what they are doing is legal.  Pleas eget in tuch if you would like to know more. 

In January 2015 I was provileged to represent UK National Trails at the World Trails' Conference in Jeju, South Korea.  The trip certainly of my lfetime, the conference brought together an international panel of trail experts keen both to share their knowledge, also to be inquisitive and swap notes with other trails managers.  I came away with the impression that Asia is taking walking-based tourism very seriously indeed with an ambitious investment in research, ideas and finance that is likely to eclipse much of the west has to offer.  My presentation Carrying Capacity & Hadrian's Wall Path National Trail; the Challenge of Managing Visitors & Archaeology can be downloaded from the Jeju Olle Trail Guide website but in case of problems also download it here.  Of course the pdf doesn't have the benefit of my commentary but I am more than happy to talk to students on this or any of the topics in this blog for expenses only.

More blogs from this Trail »

More blogs from all trails »

Share this post:

The 1984 Strategy for Hadrian's Wall
DART report 'Hadrian's Wall: a strategy for conservation and visitor services