Wall Mile 66

Wall Mile 66 [HB 347]

We must now carry on along the footpath parallel to Cavendish Terrace and turn right when we reach the main road. We cross the modern bridge, and then take the steps down into Bitts Park, where we are reunited with the reluctant Trail, after its riverine diversions.

The curtain wall crossed the Eden and then the Caldew by means of stone bridges and Camden observed that ‘within the chanell of the river mighty stones, the remaines thereof, are yet extant’. The wall bridge just downstream of the bridge that carried the Roman road to the outpost fort at Netherby across the Eden and through the Wall (probably with a gateway like that at Portgate, north of Corbridge). Stones from one (or more) of the bridges can be seen in Bitts Park, just before we cross the modern bridge over the Caldew, off the path to our right.

Stones from the Roman bridge in Bitts Park

Stones from the Roman bridge in Bitts Park

To our left, on a promontory overlooking the park and the river, is Carlisle Castle. The fort at Carlisle (Luguvallium) was never part of the Hadrian’s Wall system, but was rather connected to the ‘Stanegate frontier’ (itself a notion which regularly comes into, and then goes out of, fashion). The redevelopment of the city centre has seen large portions of the extramural settlement and the southern portion of the fort being excavated (the northern part is situated under the castle, which is still Crown property), the earlier levels showing a degree of organic preservation second only to Vindolanda. It has the distinction of its first fort being dated very precisely to AD 72, thanks to dendrochronology, and there is then a cycle of renewal approximately every ten years, with the garrison probably changing each time. Writing tablets (similar to, but less famous than, the Vindolanda examples) mention the presence of ala I Gallorum Sebosiana in AD 105. Like the Roman fort at Corbridge, its later garrison included detachments from the three British legions, II Augusta, VI Victrix, and XX Valeria Victrix.

The modern bridge across the Calder near the Wall bridge

The modern bridge across the Calder near the Wall bridge

We pass the leisure centre and continue on our way, following the Trail signs. The Wall now crosses former railway yards and a sewage farm, where the curtain wall was excavated, whilst the Trail, hugs the riverside, before diving under an old railway viaduct and ultimately climbing up onto the embankment south of the river. Just 150m beyond the viaduct, we reach the likely site of Milecastle 67.

Milecastle 67 (Stainton) [HB 347; haiku]

The Trail near the calculated position of Milecastle 67

The Trail near the calculated position of Milecastle 67

Milecastle 67 is an unlocated example and one that spacing suggests should be perched on one side or another of a small tributary to the Eden.

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