BITS ‘N’ PIECES
Hadrian’s Wall was the north-west frontier of the Roman Empire for nearly 300 years. It was built by the Roman army on the orders of the emperor Hadrian following his visit to Britain in AD 122. At 73 miles (80 Roman miles) long, it crossed northern Britain from Wallsend on the River Tyne in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in the west.
Permanent conquest of Britain by the Romans began in AD 43. By about AD 100 the northernmost army units in Britain lay along the Tyne–Solway isthmus. The forts here were linked by a road, now known as the Stanegate, between Corbridge and Carlisle.
Hadrian came to Britain in AD 122 and, according to a biography written 200 years later, ‘put many things to right and was the first to build a wall 80 miles long from sea to sea to separate the barbarians from the Romans’.
The building of Hadrian’s Wall probably began that year, and took at least six years to complete. As first planned, most of the Wall was to be built in stone, but the eastern 30-mile section was in turf. In front of both was a substantial ditch, except where crags or rivers made this unnecessary.
At each mile a gate was protected by a small guard post called a milecastle. Before work was completed, 14 forts were added, followed by an earthwork known as the Vallum to the south.
The inscription on the Ilam pan, a 2nd-century souvenir of Hadrian’s Wall found in 2003, suggests that it was called the vallum Aelii, Aelius being Hadrian’s family name.
The most famous of all the frontiers of the Roman Empire, Hadrian’s Wall was made a World Heritage Site in 1987.
The king cobra - one of the most venomous snakes on the planet - can reach 18 feet in length, making them the longest of all venomous snakes. The amount of neurotoxin cobras can deliver in a single bite - up to two-tenths of a fluid ounce - is enough to kill 20 people, or even an elephant. King cobra venom affects the respiratory centers in the brain, causing respiratory arrest and cardiac failure.
When confronted, it can lift up to a third of its body off the ground and still move forward to attack. Fortunately, king cobras are shy and will avoid humans whenever possible. Although cobras can hear, they are actually deaf to ambient noises, sensing ground vibrations instead.
King cobras live mainly in the rain forests and plains of India, southern China, and Southeast Asia, and their coloring can vary greatly from region to region. They feed mainly on other snakes, venomous and nonvenomous. They will also eat lizards, eggs, and small mammals. They are the only snakes in the world that build nests for their eggs, which they guard ferociously until the hatchlings emerge.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the king cobra as vulnerable to extinction, as they face a variety of threats stemming from human activities like heavy deforestation in Southeast Asia which has destroyed the habitats of many king cobras. They are also harvested in large numbers for skin, food, and medicinal purposes. They are also collected for the international pet trade. King cobras are also persecuted by humans who fear their menacing reputation.