William Hutton Walks the Wall: Day Seven

Upon the common, called Midgham foot, a little beyond the favourite premises of Burdoswald, the Wall had been recently taken down, and lies in heaps, as if the country could not produce one soul to protect Antiquity. Agricola and Hadrian lie one hundred yards on my left.

I thought I observed the foundations of a turret, but am not certain; I saw, however, forty yards of facing-stones, from five to seven courses high. In another place on the common called the Banks, I saw eight.

All the mounds, the Wall, and the ditches, are seen all the way along this common; the Wall four feet high.

At Bank head, the foundation of the Wall only is seen; the trench is in perfection; a foot-path runs along the bottom.

I entered a farm-house for intelligence; I was treated with great shyness, till they understood my pursuit. It appeared, they had taken me for a purveyor of land, preparatory to inclosing the commons.

At Hare hill, which, by the bye, stands in a valley, the Wall is ten feet high, and five yards long; but the front stones are gone. I viewed this relick with admiration; I saw no part higher; it was within two feet of the battlements. Near this place the Wall is five feet high, with the foundation of a Castle twenty yards square.

Now I find a small part, with three tier of facing-stones, ten yards long, and four feet high, with a new wall added by a gentleman to the old, which will preserve it.

A little farther, the banks and ditch are perfect; and Severus’s Wall is built upon the soil thrown out of his own ditch, as is perceptible in many other places.

Over the valley, for the space of two hundred yards, the Wall is four feet high, and a boundary hedge grows upon its top.

Proceeding from Haden, a new Wall is erected upon the spot where the old one stood, with some of its materials; and the remainder are scattered.

I now traverse another common, half a mile over, where all the works are just discernible. Then passing half a mile more, part over watery ground, and the sun down, my limbs told me, I had done enough for the day, and a guide directing me where I might sleep, I applied to the sign of the Cow and Boot, at High Walton, for a bed.

“Sir, we cannot take you in.”

“You must be kind enough to assist me, for there is no other place in which I can sleep. Dispose of me how you please, but do not turn me out.”

Silence was the answer which I considered a favourable one. There were, besides the father and mother, six children, chiefly females, and grown up. One of them, a young woman, I was sorry to see, was approaching the grave.

Although a publlc-house, they had no ale, cyder, porter, beer, or liquors, of any kind, or food, except milk, which was excellent; but they treated me with something preferable, Civility.

When I rose the next morning, and asked my worthy landlady, what I had to pay? I found she would be satisfied with only a few pence! Ignorant of the polite art of duping, I found she knew but little of the world.

I laid down two shillings. In surprize, she returned one, and offered to give change for the other. I insisted upon her taking both. Still unwilling, I was obliged to promise to make her a harder bargain at my return.

When a man serves me with his best in time of need, he merits my money and my thanks.


Petriana, now Cambeck Fort

Fifty miles from Newcastle, and eight from Carlisle; a modern name, derived from the river Cambeck. The works are wholly gone; for a gentleman, who, like other “wise men from the East,” had acquired a fortune in India, recently purchased the estate on which this Castle stood, for thirteen thousand pounds, stocked up the foundation, and erected a noble house on the spot. Other Stations preserve the ruins, but this only the name; and is the first which has been sacrificed to modern taste.

It also bears the name of Castle Steads, perhaps the most proper. This small fort stands at so great a distance from all the works, that I can scarcely admit it among the Stations. It could be of no more use to Severus’s Wall, than various other fortifications scattered over the country on both sides of the Wall. It might be of rather more use to Agricola. It is the third reputed Station which stands out of the line; and was, I have no doubt, erected by him, and most probably accepted by Severs, and occupied by him as a Station; otherwise, we cannot account for the great vacancy between Burdoswald and Watch Cross, which is more than nine miles; or rather between Burdoswald and Stanwix, which is fourteen miles, and would have been too great a distance between the Stations, a distance no where found. So that between the above two, which line with the Wall, we find two that do not, Cambeck Fort, of which we now treat, and Watch Cross, which follows.

The ground plot was visible before the purchase, and is all that was left of the Station. Along the Wall, Severus’s ditch with the Works of Agricola and Hadrian may be traced; but the higher we rise in cultivation the more we sink in antiquity. The plough will bury its last remains.