Wall Mile 33 [HB 225–6]
We are still walking along the berm, with the field wall sitting just to the south of the curtain wall’s remains, descending gradually. To the south of us, the Military Road crosses the Vallum and disappears into a softwood plantation and the earthwork now keeps pace with us.
We are on our own and soon find ourselves to the south of the uneven (and unexcavated) remains of the curtain wall and its rubble spread. It is visible as a low mound with occasional blocks of stone poking out. Treat it gently and tread carefully. Before long, we reach another consolidated turret and short stretch of curtain wall, but this one has a special story to tell.
Turret 33b (Coesike) [HB 226]
This was a short-lived turret, with broad-gauge footings cut away by the narrow-gauge wall. For the first time, we find a (rather saggy) recess-filling wall added within the turret, probably to enable a wall walk to cross it safely. The doorway has been blocked, so the turret was evidently not completely reduced upon abandonment. Abandonment? The Roman army quit Hadrian’s Wall in the 140s in favour of a new, shorter, turf wall (the Antonine Wall) between the Forth and Clyde. This brief flirtation with the narrower isthmus did not last, however, and they returned south to Hadrian’s Wall in the 160s and recommissioned the older wall. A few features, including some of the turrets, were thought surplus to requirements and discarded.
Continuing westwards we can see a square, walled plantation of trees ahead of us and this is the site of Milecastle 34.
Milecastle 34 (Grindon) [HB 227; haiku]
Although its position is conveniently marked by the plantation, there is nothing to see of the milecastle itself, beyond an information panel (the stone wall is modern), but it makes a fine observation point from which to observe the ditch in either direction.