Wall Mile 21 [HB 177–84]
We cross the lunar landscape of old quarrying that has removed Milecastle 21 and the Vallum and enter the pinchiest of pinch points, the Trail being sent along a narrow fenced-off alleyway at the northern edge of the fields, immediately south of the wall bordering the Military Road. We follow this past Halton Red House (to the north of the road) before we emerge into the area of Haltonchesters fort.
Haltonchesters fort (ONNVM) [HB 178–83]
Haltonchesters is 12km (7.5 miles) from Rudchester and is 2ha (4.8 acres) in area, having been enlarged from 1.7ha (4.3 acres) with a rather unusual western extension south of the curtain wall (making it the only fort on the Wall with an L-shaped plan). Its initial garrison is unknown but it may have been a mixed cohort (a combination of auxiliary cavalry and infantry). The increase in size may be because it later held the ala I Pannoniorum Sabiniana. Once again placed astride the Wall, it had six gates, allowing for three gates each north and south of the curtain wall. A large internal bath-house was excavated near the western defences, north of the modern road, in the 19th century, with barracks to the east of it. To the south of us, granaries were examined more recently, but most of our knowledge of the site comes from a detailed geophysical survey.
There is nothing to see of the site today beyond the fort platform and a few humps and bumps to the south of the Military Road, whilst to the north the fort is still under the plough.
Leaving the fort behind us, we head downhill towards a rather important little stream, one of the tributaries of the Cor Burn. By the time this reaches the Tyne next to the Roman site at Corbridge, it has been tapped by the aqueduct which supplied the Roman fort and town there and the remains of which are still to be seen on the site. The Vallum is now visible again to our left and the Military Road is once again on top of the curtain wall after emerging from the Down Hill plantation. We cross the burn and head up the other side towards the site of Milecastle 22.
Milecastle 22 (Portgate) [HB 184; haiku]
This was found to be a long-axis milecastle when it was examined in 1930 (so longer north to south than east to west), but intriguing to discover that the northern gateway was, later in its life, completely blocked (perhaps as a result of its proximity to the Port Gate gateway, which we shall soon be encountering).