Wall Mile 44 [HB 277–8]
After we have crossed the next stile, we now have three nicks, each a re-entrant protected by a length of ditch, to deal with. These are part of the Nine Nicks of Thirlwell; there are no longer nine, in case you’re counting coup, since quarrying has somewhat depleted their numbers, but it is as well to be aware of their allegiance. The Military Way is still with us, about 35m south of the curtain wall and we pass Alloa Lee farm (which you’ll usually see referred to as Allolee in books) to our left.
Our first nick takes us up to the site of Turret 44a (nothing to see), then comes a second, and then, just before the third and most spectacular, the curtain wall is apparent to our right and it suddenly makes a right-angled turn to the left. The Wall has arrived at Walltown Nick and is having to take evasive action. Tucked into that cheeky little angle (so unusual on Hadrian’s Wall) is Turret 44b.
Turret 44b (Mucklebank) [HB 278]
Turret 44b is unique in being set into a right-angled turn of the curtain wall, as it wends it way along the top of the crags. Still standing to about 1.9m high, it was excavated by J.P. Gibson in 1892 and we see it pretty much as he left it, warts and all. Inside, the remains of an arch can be found lying on the floor and that may originally have adorned the doorway.
We are now confronted by a steep descent by means of some rudimentary stone steps (they are modern and some have been cut with an angle grinder to give added grip). Before we start down them, however, we can survey the path we shall be negotiating and observe the Wall from our eyrie. The line of the curtain wall, although ruinous, should be clear, slightly to the north of the paved path. North of that again is the line of the ditch. As has already been mentioned, the ditch reappears at each nick or gap where its defensive provision is deemed necessary.
To our left is a low mound surmounted by trees, known as King Arthur’s Well; the Once and Future King more makes his presence felt again and this will not be the last time his name crops up.
At the bottom of the steps we follow the paved causeway to the stile over the field wall, then head up the far side (we need to travel almost diagonally to get back up to the line of the curtain wall, here ruinous and betrayed only by s few stones poking out of the grassy bank. The curtain wall continues along the top of the crags in this fashion for about 200m before we arrive at Milecastle 45.
Milecastle 45 (Walltown) [HB 278; haiku]
This long-axis milecastle has never been properly excavated, but the robber trenches dug to remove its walls (and their associated spoil heaps) are very clear and serve to delineate the structure.