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04 Apr 2019

Watchers begin vigil on Hadrian’s Wall to mark final GoT series

Fantasy and reality are meeting on Hadrian’s Wall, in northern England, as “Watchers” in black cloaks and shields have been posted to mark the final season of the epic Game of Thrones TV show.

English Heritage has appointed teams of “Watchers on the Wall” to man sections of the near-2000-year-old structure – which was the inspiration behind Games of Thrones creator George RR Martin’s own giant ice wall – for the duration of the final series, which begins on 14 April. The Watchers will be available to answer questions about the bloody facts and fiction of both real life and life in the Seven Kingdoms.

Frances McIntosh, English Heritage’s curator of Hadrian’s Wall, and a huge Game of Thrones fan, said: “It’s hard not to see the many similarities between the fictional fantasy and real life. From the watchers on the wall to the Roman soldier’s oath, the wealth of historical events interwoven with the popular show is clear. From this week, our Watchers on the Wall will be on hand at our sites to answer questions, and in April a new collection of Roman objects uncannily rich with Night’s Watch symbolism will be on display at Housesteads Roman Fort.”

The 73-mile (117.5km) long wall was built during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian between AD122 and 128, as a defensive structure against the “barbarians” to the north. It marked the northernmost reach of the Roman Empire, standing at 4.5m in height, and including 16 forts, 80 milecastles and 160 turrets.

Although the great ice wall in Game of Thrones is a vast 700-foot (213m) high barrier, designed to keep out the Wildlings and White Walkers and guarded by the Night’s Watch, George RR Martin has confirmed that it was inspired by Hadrian’s Wall, which he first visited in 1981.

“Today it may not be supersized like George RR Martin’s colossal ice wall, but when it was built nearly 2000 years ago, Hadrian’s Wall would have been a huge, hulking sign of Roman imperial strength,” McIntosh continued, “and standing on the precipice looking north, you can tell why Martin was inspired by this ancient monument.”

The Watchers on the Wall will be located at four sites along the wall until the final series of Game of Thrones concludes later this year. English Heritage said the sites are Birdoswald Roman Fort in Cumbria, and Corbridge Roman Town, Housesteads Roman Fort and Chester’s Roman Fort in Northumberland.

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