Contested Desires at Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland

Rather than the common misconception that it was a barrier between England and Scotland, Hadrian’s Wall brought people together to encourage and control trade.

It became home to people from many different cultures. Soldiers from all corners of the Roman Empire were stationed here. From Flemish to Syrian; Spanish to Northumbrian – there was a diverse community of people living, working and trading along the Wall.

Today, the epic structure stretches 80 miles from the Solway Coast in Cumbria to Wallsend near Newcastle upon Tyne, cutting through rural communities, wild landscapes and city suburbs.

In 2020, the National Trust is partnering with D6: Culture in Transit, on a new project called Contested Desires.

Contested Desires is a multi-national project supported by Creative Europe bringing together communities, groups and individuals around historic sites to discuss our shared colonial heritage and explore common ground through art and co-production.

Working with resident artists, community groups and other organisations in the Hadrian’s Wall Partnership, we will explore stories of past and present migration, contemporary relevance and how our shared colonial heritage has shaped the North East over centuries.

Contested Desires partner meeting in Cyprus
Contested Desires
Contested Desires partner meeting in Cyprus

In summer 2021 three international artists, Marcio Carvalho (Portugal/ Germany), Dimitris Chimonas (Cyprus)  and Mónica Rikić (Spain) will spend a month in the region exploring Hadrian’s Wall from Newcastle to Northumberland, connecting with local residents along the way. North East based artist Henna Asikainen is also producing new work taking inspiration from Hadrians Wall to the Durham Heritage Coast to explore our shared past with newly arrived and resettled groups, local residents, National Trust staff and volunteers. 

An exhibition of works by the artists will follow, opening at The Sill Landscape Discovery Centre on Hadrian’s Wall.

To find out more about Contested Desires and stay up to date with project activity visit

The content and views expressed within this third-party article and supporting podcasts are the personal views of the participants, and do not necessarily represent those of the National Trust.