The Best Bits of Hadrian’s Wall: the Forts (Drumburgh)

Drumburgh Castle

plan of Drumburgh CastleLike Bowness, Drumburgh (one of those -burghs pronounced ‘-bruff’) was situated on a drumlinoid, giving it a slight height advantage over the surrounding area. There is nothing of the fort to see, although we know the first fort here was only 0.8ha in area (making it the smallest on the Wall), but Drumburgh Castle (in reality a fortified bastle-type house typical of the border region) contains large amounts of dressed red sandstone from the second, stone fort (and, presumably, the curtain wall); the Revd John Leland visited in 1539 and had little doubt about its origin, commenting ‘the stones of the Pict wall wer pulled down to build Drumbuygh for the wal is very nere it’.

plinth course at Drumburgh CastleFrom the road, we can clearly see what appears to be a plinth course behind an old water pump, similar to those found on the northern face of Turf Wall turrets like T52a. Belonging to, and evidently renovated by, the Dacre family in the 16th century (the coat of arms of Thomas, Lord Dacre, is over the entrance, as are the initialsTD), it is worth noting that another of the Dacres has an intriguing role to play in the later history of the Wall. Outside the Castle are a number of Roman altars which, when Jessie Mothersole was here in 1921, were regularly coated in a strange mixture of buttermilk and ochre to help preserve them. The late garrison here was an infantry unit, cohors II Lingonum.