Wall Mile 65 [HB 340]
We set off westwards again, downhill for a short distance and then following the tree-lined footpath uphill to the point where the Wall changes course again. The ditch is to our right and the line of the curtain wall to the left. The path leads us down to Beech Grove and past the back of the University of Cumbria. The Wall, meanwhile, has dived under the suburban sprawl of Stanwix, but we are going to wriggle our way through to see a few significant bits.
At the end of Tarraby Lane, we turn right onto Kell’s Place and follow the road round to the left before turning right again down Knowe Terrace (are you keeping up? I sincerely hope so). Now look for Mulcaster Crescent on your left and walk down there, looking for the car park entrance to the Cumbria Park Hotel. Without realising it, we have arrived at Stanwix fort.
Stanwix fort (VXELODVNVM) [HB 341–5]
Stanwix fort lies north of the Eden and, with around 800 troopers, was the base of the largest cavalry unit on the Wall (and, indeed, in Britain), the milliary ala Augusta Gallorum Petriana. Not much is known about the site, since it is situated under one of the suburbs of Carlisle. It covers 3.27ha (9.32 acres) and appears to have had both turf-and-timber and stone phases, the former built after Hadrian’s Wall had been constructed in stone here, and is located 12.8km (8.0 miles) from Castlesteads. There is not much for the visitor to see, but enough to make it worth the effort.
In the far left corner of the Cumbria Park Hotel car park, part of the course of the fort north wall has been marked out and an explanatory plaque provided. Now might be an opportune moment to revive yourself with the beverage of your choice in the hotel before heading off along the Wall again.
Leaving the hotel again and turning left down Mulcaster Crescent, we come to Scotland Road, on the line of the main Roman road north of Hadrian’s Wall on the western side. Use the pedestrian crossing to get to the western side of Scotland Road and head left on a southerly course. Before long we come to a junction where two roads join from the right-hand side. Take the second of those roads, Marlborough Gardens, and head straight down to the end of it, where there is a junction with Cavendish Terrace. We cross over and use the track to get to the other side of the hedge, where we find a path. We turn left and head off along it, realising that we are on the wooded edge of the floodplain of the River Eden. Approximately 100m down the path, to our right, there is a red sandstone pillar which, although now illegible (and possibly covered in vegetation), marks the point where Hadrian’s Wall crosses the path.
The Roman road, which we left a while back, crossed the river by means of a bridge, to our east, whilst a second one carried the Wall itself, and we shall have the opportunity to examine some bits of bridge in the next Wall mile. Anyway, we are now near the site of Milecastle 66.
Milecastle 66 (Stanwix Bank) [HB 346; haiku]
Milecastle 66 was noted by Thomas Pennant in 1772 on his way north to explore Scotland again. He saw it perched on the edge of the north bank of the river, recording ‘vestiges of some dikes describing a small square’ but no trace now remains.