Wall Mile 24 [HB 186–7]
This Wall Mile keeps us to the north of the ditch until the very last moment and affords us an excellent chance to observe the Military Road, one of its flanking walls, and the speeding traffic making the most of this straight stretch. The land still slopes gently from south to north, enhancing the effect of the ditch and counterscarp. A change in the alignment of the course of the Wall (which has been running almost due east to west from Heavenfield) soon occurs and it then adopts a die-straight course on a slightly more southerly heading to the point where the Dere Street (now the A68) crosses it at the Portgate roundabout, near Milecastle 22. At this slight angle, the ditch ploughs through an outcrop, exploiting the upslope trick once more, almost as if this point had been deliberately aimed at. Next to us, the ditch often shows signs of moisture, with damp-loving plant species like Juncus and even standing water within it in places.
Just after we reach the change in course, a field wall swoops across the ditch, highlighting its profile. To our right, the characteristic form of the roadside walls along the Military Road, built at the same time by the contractors, also using Wall stone, has two rows of through-stones, but this detail is not usually copied in subsequent repairs to those walls. Further to the south, unseen by us, the Vallum switches between an earthwork in pasture and cropmarks in standing crops.
Before too long, having had our fill of the ditch and the north side of the Military Road, we climb up to a stile and have to cross the Military Road. Once more, care is essential, given the breakneck speed at which motorists hurtle along here; there are signs warning them of pedestrians crossing, but you will not see many decelerate as a result.
Onto the south side of the Military Road, we are greeted by the gently undulating remains of the Vallum not far away and, up against the southern wall of the road, Milecastle 24.
Milecastle 24 (Wall Fell) [HB 186; haiku]
Milecastle 24 (Wall Fell) was excavated in 1930 and found to be a long-axis milecastle, now surviving as an earthwork. Here the southern wall of the road has been very haphazardly patched and lacks the quality we have seen further to the west.