The Stanegate (Miles 1 to 7)


To follow the Stanegate is a journey along two river systems and across the watershed of England. It is a geological exploration with a strategic twist. This is a road that archaeologists and historians have long wanted to be a frontier. Its life as a Roman road began in the AD 80s, with the construction of a Roman fort at Corbridge to pair with the existing base at Carlisle (which we know from dendrochronological studies of its timbers was built in AD 72). Both Corbridge and Carlisle were on main north to south routes but now they were linked across the isthmus by this new road. New? Almost certainly not. Unlike most Roman roads, the Stanegate does not boast many long, straight stretches (although it has a few) and some bits are downright tortuous. The valleys of the Tyne and Irthing offer a natural route across the country and it is probably prehistoric in origin (it certainly remained popular after the Roman period, as we shall see later).

Wall Miles 1 to 7

In this first section of the road, only Mile 1 is at all certain. Miles 5 and 6 have been suggested by Raymond Selkirk but not tested by excavation, whilst Miles 2 to 4 are at best a guess to take the road from where it is known (Mile 1) to where it must cross the North Tyne (somewhere upstream of the confluence with the South Tyne, near Warden). If correct, Selkirk’s Miles 5 and 6 suggest that that crossing was near Warden itself).

Miles 1 to 7 of the Stanegate

Mile 1

The course of the first mile west of Corbridge is known from excavation, aerial photography, and from its subsequent partial re-use as the medieval Carelgate. After crossing the Cor Burn by means of a terraced zig-zag (excavated in 1938–9), this passes the mausoleum at Shorden Brae (which helps define the western extremity of Roman Corbridge, since cemeteries were normally outside town boundaries), the baths at Red House, and the ?supply-base at Beaufront Red House, and runs close to the possible temporary camp at Bishop Rigg. Handbook p.427

Miles 2–6

Corchester Lane where it may be on the line of Stanegate

Course suggested by Raymond Selkirk, On the Trail of the Legions (1995) pp.111–19

Mile 7

Stanegate running through Fourstones

The traditional course in Mile 7 was confirmed by watching brief and excavation in 1994.

Stanegate near the location of the watching brief and excavation