Wall Mile 12 [HB 166–7]
We now take the leafy lane (keeping the large shed to our left and the modern house to our right), which is Chare Bank, heading downhill with the old church (it has Anglian origins) perched on a mound to our left, until we reach a curious low metal gate which guards the entrance to the path. The sensible walker is advised not to attempt limbo-dancing under it. We turn right and, on the far side of the main road, can see the Three Tuns pub; that is where we are aiming for, as we now cross that road (in which we are aided by an elongated traffic island). On the corner, next to the pub, the road sign (which is set virtually directly on top of the curtain wall) helpfully points westwards towards Hadrian’s Wall.
We are now back on the Military Road (as the street name board reminds us) and can cross over to the northern pavement at our convenience. Our path is now leading us out through the western limits of Heddon towards open country, now accompanied by the vegetationally hirsute ditch over the low wall to our right, the line of the curtain wall to our left (beneath the road, naturally), and the Vallum in the fields further south. Is the curtain wall actually there? Be patient and you will be enlightened.
Ditch to the right, curtain wall under road, Vallum in fields to the left
At the end of this segment of the Military Road, the modern road branches off to the right to cross the A69 and you can see the orphaned section of the original road produced by this diversion when the new route was built. Excavation beneath this section (part of a study to determine the likely effect of heavy military vehicles travelling elsewhere on the Military Road) showed that the foundations of the curtain wall were still intact here, even if they have vanished (or, more correctly, been removed) elsewhere.
Heading northwards over the bridge, our enjoyment of this section is not particularly enhanced as we pass over the A69 by the accompanying roar of the traffic beneath us. When the dual carriageway was rather thoughtlessly inserted across the line of the Wall in 1975, excavation revealed the remains of a culvert carrying the Rudchester Burn under the curtain wall.
The bridge is a good place to cross over, and at the junction, like the B6318, we also turn left, proceeding behind the Armco barrier. Soon we reach a gate, go down some steps, and begin the climb up towards the site of Milecastle 13.
Milecastle 13 (Rudchester Burn) [HB 167; haiku]
A short-axis milecastle, it was excavated in 1930, although its remains are now barely perceptible as a slightly raised platform. Treasure-lovers will be delighted to hear that a pot of 516 gold and silver coins was found here in the year of the American declaration of independence, although it is doubtful whether the two facts are linked. The latest coin dated to 168, thought to be a troubled time in northern Britannia. When thinking of Roman coin hoards, it is always difficult not to recall Samuel Pepys and his attempts to hoard coins when a Dutch invasion was threatened (unlike the Romans, he did not have the foresight to use a container that would not perish and so rendered recovery that bit more tricky).