New art installation brings Hadrian’s Wall to life for summer visitors

A colourful art installation is giving visitors fresh insight into how part of Hadrian’s Wall would have looked 1600 years ago.

Thursday, 28th July 2022, 10:39 am
Updated Thursday, 28th July 2022, 10:40 am

English Heritage has installed a contemporary take on the original north gatehouse at Housesteads Roman Fort.

The installation, celebrating Hadrian’s Wall’s 1900th anniversary, opens to the public on Saturday, July 30.

English Heritage chief executive Kate Mavor, said: “Hadrian’s Wall is one of England’s most iconic landmarks and to mark its anniversary, we wanted a meaningful way to connect people of 2022 back to AD122.

The new art installation at the north gate of Housesteads Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall.

"We hope that placing such a bold contemporary art installation in this ancient landscape will not only capture people’s imagination but maybe also challenge their ideas of what the Wall was for. Not just a means to keep people out, but a frontier that people could – and did – cross.

"To create this work we’ve engaged with a wide range of community groups who have all played a part in making this such a striking and vibrant piece of art…and living history.”

Artist Morag Myerscough, who created it, added: “The moment I saw Housesteads and started walking around the fort I had an overwhelming feeling of wanting to make an installation there.

"I stood in the remains of the north gatehouse and I looked at the wilderness that appeared to be unchanged since Roman times and I knew immediately that was the place.

“It was so important to me, and to English Heritage, that the work was a collaboration with the local community and that it relates to the people it is for. The whole work has been created and made with the local community, we have made it together.”

The brightly coloured wooden placards that comprise the outer shell of the artwork, over a large scaffold frame, were designed in response to the collection of Roman artefacts on display Chesters Roman Fort Museum, Roman designs and community workshops.

The words and phrases seen across the installation come from Morag’s collaboration with poet, Ellen Moran and the local community through workshops where volunteers also helped to paint the placards, following the artist’s designs.

At the end of October, the structure will be completely removed and the placards will be offered to the community members who painted them.

Planning specialist Hedley Planning Services helped secure planning approval for the installation from Northumberland County Council.

English Heritage would like to thank The National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery players for making this project possible.