Syrian Archers on Hadrian’s Wall

The Roman army recruited Syrians because of their specialist archery skills. One such unit was based on Hadrian’s Wall not long after it was built. They continued to worship Syrian goddesses while they were in Britain. It looks like the unit was still here 300 years later, when Roman rule ended. This relief, which is in the Great North Museum, shows a Hamian archer holding his bow in his left hand.


For a memorable encounter with this little known example of shared history, come to one of our free relaxed workshops on 9 or 10 May at the Great North Museum in Newcastle. Come along on the day or book your place in advance by emailing us at:

Read more about Syrian archers in Britain on these websites:


4 thoughts on “Syrian Archers on Hadrian’s Wall

  1. Thanks for the useful links related to Roman history. Can you tell me where I can find an electronic file copy suitable for publishing showing the Hamian archer you have shown above on your website? I checked the Great North Museum website, but they referred me to the Bridgeman archive for photo images, and the Bridgeman archive does not show this image when I search for “Hamian archer” or “Syrian archer.” I’m writing an article about the Middle Eastern presence in northern England during the Roman period and my editor might very well want to use the image you have shown. Many thanks for help.


    1. Dear Charles,
      Sorry for the delay in replying. I also had no luck in finding an image on the the Great North Museum website. If I remember correctly, I used a photograph that had been posted somewhere by Mike Bishop, the expert on Roman military equipment. That was fine for a low-res academic website like this, but probably not for a published article. It’s possible that the Great North Museum will provide a bespoke photograph – for a price – but you will have to ask them. Sorry I can’t be more helpful. Regards, Stephen.


  2. Hello Stephen: I’m sorry if I’m duplicating my message but my earlier reply of a few days ago appears not to have been posted. Dr. Bishop was kind enough to provide me two versions of a photo of the Syrian archer, but unfortunately the lightning is not as good as the one you have used in your blog, and they are clearly not the same image. I’m just wondering if you have any further recollections of where the image used above might have come from. It is still the best I have seen. With many thanks. Chuck Cecil


    1. Dear Chuck,
      Sorry I haven’t replied sooner, but I have been away on business. I can’t remember exactly, as I looked in several places, but it may well just have been one that I found on a Google search. I know that it wasn’t on a specific website, and since it was a photo taken by Mike Bishop in a public museum, I thought that its use on our website would be all right. Unfortunately, when I tried googling it again just now, our image is the first one that appears! I’m afraid that I don’t have any others that you can use. Best wishes, Stephen


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