Wall Mile 16 [HB 173]
The Trail leads us downhill towards a crossing of a side road (the usual caution is advised), and then past the lower northern reservoir. Nobody will be surprised to learn that the reservoirs have obliterated all trace of the Wall, even the Vallum, here.
When Campbell and Debbeig were conducting their survey in 1749, prior to the construction of the Military Road, they found time to note a portion of curtain wall standing along here to a height of four courses. This of course was soon converted into the raw materials necessary for road construction, but the degree of their antiquarian interest is intriguing. One cannot but wonder at how broadly they interpreted their brief to survey a course for a new road so that it included mapping large parts of the Roman Wall as it then was. Indeed, their detailed survey seems to have been a major (and perhaps the only) source for the map drawn up by Nathaniel Hill for John Warburton’s rehash of the section of Horsley’s Britannia Romana that dealt with the Wall. And they tell us piracy is a modern problem in the publishing industry.
We start to climb steadily, now, towards Harlow Hill, the large stone ballast next to the reservoir making heavy going (it makes it easier if you walk on the grass to either side, where possible) and it soon saps the strength. We are on the line of the ditch and there is indeed a slight depression, but little by way of detail to be seen. It is worth briefly pausing to look back, for the reservoirs are spectacular, even though they are a modern addition to this historic landscape.
Once we reach the top, a short diversion through the edge of some woodland, usually boggy and beset with the plastic reinforcement mats you may already have seen in various places, and we are unceremoniously dumped on a narrow piece of worn verge that eventually turns into an equally narrow pavement. Passing the crest of the hill, we may note a junction opposite and immediately to the east of it is the measured position of Milecastle 16 (Harlow Hill).
Milecastle 16 (Harlow Hill) [HB 173; haiku]
No trace of this milecastle has ever been noted archaeologically, although antiquarian reports suggest it was once visible. Its prominent location on the hill meant that it would have enjoyed fine views towards Milecastles 17 and 18 to the west and 15 and the fort at Rudchester to the east.