The works now pass Newton, and Old Walton, much in a feeble style, except Severus’s trench, which, through the inclosures, makes, and perhaps ever will make, a bold figure.
Wall-Head, a single house, in a low situation! Here the people viewed me with a suspicious eye when I entered the house, and, I have reason to think, rather wished me out. A book in my hand, and ink-bottle at my breast, “What could I be but a surveyor of land, employed by the landlord, preparatory to a rise of rent!”
But, when I could dispel the gloom, and raise a smile, I became a most welcome guest; was received with additional joy, in proportion to the depth they had been let down; was obliged to drink tea, and promise, a return of the visit. Thus the civil treatment rose from the removal of an expected injury.
THE FOURTEENTH STATION.
Aballaba; now Watch Cross.
It is sometimes called Scaleby Castle. This is still a less Station, and the least in the line; fifty-three miles from Newcastle, and five from Carlisle; lies more than a mile South of all the works; and for what use placed here by Agricola is uncertain, except to guard a road. This is the fourth Station of the eighteen, which is detached from the Wall.
A Roman road preceeds from Walwick Chesters, already mentioned; takes a course like the firing of a bow for twenty-six miles, and then joins the Wall hear Wallby. A branch of this road runs up to Thirlwall Castle. It also communicates with Little Chesters, and Carvoran, both detached Stations. The same road extends to two other out Stations; for, by passing through Crakes town, and Burtham, it reaches Cambec Fort; and then, through Newton and Irthington, it reaches Watch Cross proceeds on to Low Crosby, and Wallby, as above.
It is said, the kingdom at the time I am speaking of was full of timber; and that the Romans occasionally cleared it away, to make their roads, and to facilitate a passage for large bodies of men, provisions, &c. which could not, in many places, have been conveyed without.
When they had formed the roads, it became equally necessary to guard them. Hence these four Southern Stations. As a farther security to this long and naked part of the Wall, in after-ages, was erected Scaleby Castle, which, like Thirlwell, lies at a small distance North of Severus; this, perhaps, three hundred yards, and Thirlwell, one, which became a tolerable defence.
While the Wall was new, it was well guarded, which insured peace. The principal officers under Severus and his successors frequently procured grants of land, upon which they erected castles of defence; and, as a gentleman who knew the whole line, remarked to me, they chose the most fertile spots in the country. Scaleby was one of those grants. The Tilliots owned it about the time of King John; then the Pickerings, the Musgraves, the Gilpins; and it is now the property’ of William Richardson, Esq. of Wallby; but, like the fortifications of the Wall, is in ruins.
I now pass Bleatern, where the Wall is said “to run through mossy ground, and they were obliged to erect it upon piles of wood.” But I saw no piles of wood; or mossy ground, though I sought for both, neither an occasion for piles.
Bleatern stands upon elevated ground, able to support a wall without the help of wood; besides, had there been mossy ground, Severus’s ditch, in high condition here, would have drained the land for the Wall. I found, however, as much attention paid me, within the house, as I wished.
All the way from Bleatern to Wallby, more than a mile, the common high-way, (not the turnpike road,) is on the Wall itself; with the ditch on my right.
I asked a gentleman, who was amusing himself in his garden by the road, some questions relative to my pursuit; who answered with great civility,
“Will you step in, Sir, and take a glass?”
What man, like me, burnt up by a mid-day sun, could refuse? Besides, I was in a country where I could not purchase. The solicitation repeated, I accepted the kind offer. He took me into his elevated summer-house.
“I do not reside here, but come occasionally to amuse myself with the prospect (which was fine); have brought a bone of lamb, and wish you to partake.”
After a slight apology, I made a hearty dinner, and drank what I chose; in my situation a small draught could not suffice.
From his window, he explained the whole country, attended me on the way, and pointed out every object of life.
“May I, Sir, request the name of the gentleman, who has treated me with the most generous hospitality?”
“The Rev. Michael Wheelwright, of Carlisle.”
I now pass a mill, where I was shewn, in a field, the line of the Wall, with the stones hacked up. The field was in tillage. Here the sight is gone forever.
Pass Drawdikes, the seat of the Aglionbys, where many inscriptions have been found.
Before I arrive at Stanwix, and in the road to Tarraby, I pass through a field where Severus’s Wall is the identical footway, with his faint ditch by its side.