The Roman Empire was one of the largest, most powerful, most splendid and most influential Empires the World has ever seen. Its impact and legacy still affects and shapes our modern world. The Frontiers symbolised the power, the ambition, the culture and life of the Empire, projecting Rome’s way of life to the world beyond. Today significant parts of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire in the United Kingdom and Germany are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, including some of the best preserved monuments to Rome’s past glory and decline – forts and signal stations, towns, ports and villas, walls and waterways, and amazing objects can all be found amongst some of Europe’s finest scenery.
The Frontiers of the Roman Empire defined the Roman world physically, symbolically and psychologically. The Emperors spent much of their time on the Frontiers and depended on the army, mainly based on the frontiers, for support. Many Emperors came from the Frontier regions and many of the best preserved monuments of the Empire are found here, prestigious symbols of the Empire’s power and ambition.
The nature and physical structure of the Frontiers and their military systems varied across the limits of the Empire, including walls and timber palisades, rivers, deserts and mountains. The purpose of the Frontiers varies too, over space and time and was often as much about controlling and managing communications, trade and movement of people as it was about defence. The Frontiers were where the Roman world came face to face with others. As in the modern world, these frontier zones were marked by innovation, cultural exchange and ethnic mingling and diversity.
The Frontiers ebbed and flowed in response to economic and political issues and decisions at the heart of the Empire and threats and pressures at its edges. Imperial ambition, Roman identity, external threats, trade, resources, communications and supply were important factors influencing the location, extent and nature of the frontiers and how they changed and evolved over time.
To visit the Frontiers, to discover these fascinating stories and to explore the amazing monuments that survive is to come face to face with the Empire itself – how it saw itself, how it projected itself and how it engaged with the diverse communities and ethnic races of the World around it. Many of the Frontiers pass through scenic countryside where a centuries old rural way of life still persists, offering opportunities to explore on foot, bicycle or by boat whilst enjoying the best of local food and drink.