Game of Thrones writer reveals Hadrian's Wall inspired hit TV series

The inspiration for The Wall in the best-selling books and TV series Game of Thrones was Hadrian's Wall reveals author George RR Martin

Jayne Emsley Hadrian's Wall
Hadrian's Wall

Tourism bosses are hoping for an influx of visitors after it emerged the inspiration for one of the world’s most talked-about TV shows is Hadrian’s Wall.

The author of the bestselling Game of Thrones books, which have been turned into the award-winning TV show on Sky Atlantic, has revealed that seeing Hadrian’s Wall planted the seeds of inspiration back in the 1980s for his popular fantasy tale.

In an interview with American magazine Rolling Stone, George RR Martin said it was the Northumberland landmark which first got him thinking about the plot and inspired The Wall, an integral part of the series.

Martin said “The Wall predates anything else. I can trace back the inspiration for that to 1981. I was in England visiting a friend, and as we approached the border of England and Scotland, we stopped to see Hadrian’s Wall. I stood up there and I tried to imagine what it was like to be a Roman legionary, standing on this wall, looking at these distant hills.

The Ice Henge Sculpture on hit TV show Game of Thrones
The Ice Henge Sculpture on hit TV show Game of Thrones

“It was a very profound feeling. For the Romans at that time, this was the end of civilization; it was the end of the world. We know that there were Scots beyond the hills, but they didn’t know that.

“It could have been any kind of monster. It was the sense of this barrier against dark forces – it planted something in me. But when you write fantasy, everything is bigger and more colorful, so I took the Wall and made it three times as long and 700 feet high, and made it out of ice.”

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. The Wall is reported to be over 700 feet tall and is made of solid ice.

Tourist bosses in the North East are now hopeful this latest revelation will help further promote the region to fans of the books and show and attract even more visitors to Hadrian’s Wall.


Large stretches of the best-preserved frontier of the Roman Empire remain intact in Northumberland, meaning Hadrian’s Wall is the nation’s finest Roman monument. The Wall and surrounding Northumbrian countryside is scattered with Roman forts, milecastles, and temples, with archaeological sites and museums along the Wall telling the story of Rome’s rise and fall.

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.

“Fans of the programme can come and experience how George RR Martin felt – the profound sense of enormity and fear of the unknown that Roman centurions faced every day, not knowing what lay beyond the Wall.”

Northumberland’s landscapes have inspired many other writers over the years, providing the backdrop for countless TV and film scenes, including Sycamore Gap in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Alnwick Castle as Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films.

Last month the Journal told how Sunderland University graduates Mat Foster and Mat Chaloner were asked to create an Ice Henge Sculpture for Game of Thrones.


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