Wall Mile 76

Wall Mile 76 [HB 358]

Nothing much interesting happens between Glasson and Drumburgh if we stick to the Trail, although it is a pleasant enough walk, but patrolled by some mean horseflies. A measure of insect repellent may be advisable (although some may feel a 40mm Bofors gun might be more effective). The Wall, meanwhile, has realigned itself twice and is out of your reach, in the fields to the north of Drumburgh. Railway enthusiasts and industrial archaeologists alike may care to note that the Trail next turns onto the route of the dismantled Carlisle and Silloth Bay railway (at NY 259 592), which led up to a junction with the Port Carlisle line just east of Drumburgh. In 1954, it apparently had the distinction of being the first line in Britain to replace steam trains with diesel multiple units; it shut ten years later. Far be it from me to draw any conclusions from that coincidence of unmural facts.

Drumburgh (CONGABATA)

Like Bowness, Drumburgh (one of those -burghs pronounced ‘-bruff’) was situated on a drumlinoid, giving it a slight height advantage over the surrounding area. There is nothing of the fort to see, although we know the first fort here was only 0.8ha in area (making it the smallest on the Wall), but Drumburgh Castle (in reality a fortified bastle-type house typical of the border region) contains large amounts of dressed red sandstone from the second, stone fort (and, presumably, the curtain wall); the Revd John Leland visited in 1539 and had little doubt about its origin, commenting ‘the stones of the Pict wall wer pulled down to build Drumbuygh for the wal is very nere it’.

Altar outside Drumburgh Castle

Altar outside Drumburgh Castle

From the road, we can clearly see what appears to be a plinth course behind an old water pump, similar to those found on the northern face of Turf Wall turrets like T52a (which we shall see later). Belonging to, and evidently renovated by, the Dacre family in the 16th century (the coat of arms of Thomas, Lord Dacre, is over the entrance, as are the initials TD), it is worth noting that another of the Dacres has an intriguing role to play in the later history of the Wall, as we shall soon see. Outside the Castle are a number of Roman altars which, when Jessie Mothersole was here in 1921, were regularly coated in a strange mixture of buttermilk and ochre to help preserve them. The late garrison here was an infantry unit, cohors II Lingonum.

Milecastle 76 (Drumburgh) [HB 358; haiku]

Site of Milecastle 76

Site of Milecastle 76

We can now continue out of the village to the point where the ground slopes down to the marsh. Over to our left, on the eastern extremity of the raised ground, is the likely site of Milecastle 76 (Drumburgh). Its position has been tentatively located, perched on the eastern edge of the Drumburgh drumlinoid, between the fort and the line of the old railway, but there is nothing to see now.

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2 thoughts on “Wall Mile 76

  1. What-ho there,
    I just thought I would leave a comment to say that I am thoroughly enjoying your series of posts on the wall. I walked the length a couple of years ago in the opposite direction and thoroughy enjoyed the whole whatnot but it is nice to be reminded of all of the archaeological thingywhats.

  2. Glad you like it. Walking the Wall is always memorable (or so my feet are telling me at the moment!).

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