(The), from the Tyne to Boulness, on the
Solway Firth, a distance of eighty miles. Called—
The Roman Wall, because it was the work
of the Romans. Agricola's Wall, because Agricola
made the south bank and ditch. Hadrian's Wall,
because Hadrian added another vallum and mound parallel to Agricola's.
The Wall of Severus, because Severus followed in
the same line with a stone wall, having castles and turrets.
The Picts' Wall, because its object was to prevent the
incursions of the Picts.
The wall of Antoninus, now
called Graeme's Dyke, from Dunglass Castle on the
Clyde to Blackness Castle on the Forth, was made by Lollius Urbicus,
legate of Antoninus Pius, A.D. 140. It was a turf wall.
To give the wall. Nathaniel Bailey's explanation of this
phrase is worth perpetuating. He says it is “a compliment
paid to the female sex, or those to whom one would show respect,
by letting them go nearest the wall or houses, upon a
supposition of its being the cleanest. This custom,” he
adds, “is chiefly peculiar to England, for in most parts
abroad they will give them the right hand, though at the same
time they thrust them into the kennel.”
To take the wall. To take the place
of honour, the same as to choose “the uppermost rooms at
feasts.” (Matt. xxiii. 6.) At one time pedestrians gave
the wall to persons of a higher grade in society than
“I will take the wall of any man or maid of
Romeo and Juliet, i. l.
To go to the wall. To be put on one side; to be shelved.
This is in allusion to another phrase, “Laid by the
wall” —i.e. dead but not
buried; put out of the way.
To hang by the wall. To hang up
neglected; hence, not to be made use of. (
Cymbeline, iii. 4.)
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894