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Emperor Hadrian ruled from 117 to 138. He limited the empire's size to keep it manageable, extensively touring the provinces to ensure they were well governed.

As attacks on the empire increased, the Romans became very concerned with the defence of their frontiers. In 122 Hadrian started the building of a wall (Hadrian's Wall) to defend Roman Britain from outsiders. It was built between the Tyne and the Solway Firth to keep out the barbarian Scots and Picts. The wall was completed in 126. It was 117 km long and was mainly built of stone. Some 16 forts, and ditches ten metres wide on both sides, made it the Romans' most elaborate frontier.

In 130 Hadrian visited Egypt. He founded a new capital at Antinopolis.

When Hadrian died in 138 he was succeeded by Antonius Pius.

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