Game of Thrones actor Ben Crompton came face to face with the monument which inspired the fantasy drama.
Ben, who plays Eddison Tollett in TV channel HBO’s Game of Thrones, a member of the Night’s Watch which guards “the Wall”.
On Thursday he travelled to three locations on Hadrian’s Wall to open an exhibition featuring 11 historians, archaeologists and antiquarians who all played a part over the centuries in recording and protecting the world heritage site.
George RR Martin, the author of the bestselling books which have been turned into the award-winning Game of Thrones TV show, has revealed that Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland was the inspiration for his fantasy saga.
In an interview with American magazine Rolling Stone, he said it was seeing the Northumberland landmark which first got him thinking about the plot and inspired The Wall, an integral part of the series.
“It was the sense of this barrier against dark forces – it planted something in me,” he said.
In the TV show, The Wall is a massive fortification which stretches for 300 miles along the northern border of the Seven Kingdoms, defending the realm from the ‘Wildlings’ who live beyond.
Ben visited Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum in South Shields, Housesteads fort in Northumberland and Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, in Carlisle to launch the Wall Face exhibition.
The venues are among 11 along the Wall to display images, on loan from the National Portrait Gallery in London, of individuals who were partly responsible for what survives today.
Ben said: “The people featured in this exhibition were inspired to investigate Hadrian’s Wall and its story.
“By travelling from site to site Wall Face really makes you think about the scale of the Roman frontier in Britain.
“You can also find out how to get involved in the work going on now to investigate and protect the sites.
“There are archaeology projects looking at what life was like for people living in the frontier zone and opportunities to help look after the sites and the Wall itself.”
Jude Leitch, general manager of Northumberland Tourism said; “Both the books and the TV series Game of Thrones have been a massive success, so it is thrilling to know that the first seed of inspiration for the story originated in Northumberland.”
The Wall Face exhibition has been organised jointly through a partnership of heritage organisations across the Wall - Vindolanda Trust, English Heritage, National Trust, Senhouse Museum Trust, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery Trust and the Hadrian’s Wall Trust.
It features 16th Century traveller William Camden, whose book Britannia was the first comprehensive record of antiquities in Britain and who visited the Wall; Robin Collingwood, whose work on Hadrian’s Wall led to a new understanding of its use; William Stukeley, the 18th Century antiquarian who compared Hadrian’s Wall to the Great Wall of China; archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler who opened the Arbeia fort museum in 1953; William Hutton, who walked the Wall and back in 1801, aged 78; Sir Ernest Budge, who compiled the catalogue of Northumberland landowner John Clayton’s collection’s Roman finds; Sir Ian Richmond, leading archaeology lecturer and Roman scholar at King’s College in Newcastle; John Leland, the 16th Century writer who was probably the earliest to mention Hadrian’s Wall and the Rev John Hodgson, a founder member of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne whose study of inscriptions concluded that the Wall was built by the Emperor Hadrian.
For more details on the exhibition, events and to download the leaflet and app visit www.visithadrianswall.co.uk/wall-face .
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