Wall Mile 10 [HB 164–5]
We have been keeping to the southern pavement on our trek out of Newcastle, but soon it will be best to change sides to the northern. After the site of Milecastle 10, the Wall undergoes a major realignment onto a more easterly course then plunges down into Walbottle Dene (known in Hutton’s day as Newburn Dene), presumably crossing it by means of a culvert or small bridge, before ascending again to the other side. The lowest point of the Dene is a good place to cross and traffic is warned by signs and rumble strips that pedestrians will be doing just that; nevertheless, take care.
The Military Road, reflecting the new alignment, is soon interrupted by a roundabout at the point where a major drove road from Scotland to England crossed it. Long used for taking stock south and across the Tyne by the ford at Newburn, in 1640 it saw a Scottish Covenanter army use it, leading to a skirmish by the river which became known as the Battle of Newburn (although it was less of a ‘battle’ and more of a ‘flight’ on the part of the English royalist forces). Was there a transhumance gateway through Hadrian’s Wall here? We don’t know, but such drove roads tend to be old.
Throckley, looking west along the Military Road
We now continue up the hill through Throckley, passing the old reservoir to our north. From here until we reach the top of Great Hill, just east of Heddon-on-the-Wall, renewal of the potable water infrastructure at the beginning of the present millennium led to roadworks along the berm (the northern carriageway of the road). This revealed the longest stretch yet of the berm pits we encountered earlier. Were they continuous throughout the eastern sector of the Wall? We don’t know.
Our environment is no longer urban, but now determinedly suburban, although housing still crowds us in. Here the survival of Hadrian’s Wall continues to be on a knife edge, the remains sparse and frequently heavily damaged when excavated. But it is still there and boldly continues to exert its influence on the landscape as we make for the more rural stretches.
Finally, beyond the reservoir, we reach Throckley Bank Top, the approximate location of Milecastle 11.
Milecastle 11 (Throckley Bank Top) [HB 165; haiku]
As you will already have deduced, this milecastle has also proved elusive, although by measurement it should lie somewhere under the working men’s club south of the road. In the 19th century, a hoard of several thousand 3rd-century ‘silver’ coins was found nearby (rampant inflation meant that few coins were solid silver at that troubled time).