Driving Hadrian’s Wall: the Main Car Parks VI (Carrawburgh)

Carrawburgh (NNP)

Coordinates: N55.035646, W2.220416 Facilities: none

Carrawburgh car park is immediately next to the B6318 (the Military Road) so is pretty much impossible to miss, whether travelling from the east or west. It is another of the Northumberland National Park car parks for which a season ticket can be acquired; an ordinary ticket bought from the machine here can be used on that day at any of the other National Park car parks along the Wall.

Advice

Always be aware of the possibility of thieves operating in the car park. Follow signs for the Hadrian’s Wall Path to access sites to either side of Carrawburgh. Stout footwear is advisable. Access to the fort and museum is by a paved path.

Carrawburgh car parkZone 1 (100m)

1. Carrawburgh fort

Zone 2 (500m)

2. The Temple of Mithras or mithraeum

Zone 4 (2 km)

3. Wall ditch Wall Mile 30

4. Limestone Corner

5. Vallum Wall Mile 30

Zone 5 (3km)

6. Curtain wall (between Limestone Corner and Black Carts)

7. Black Carts Turret

8. Milecastle 29

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Driving Hadrian’s Wall: the Main Car Parks V (Housesteads)

Housesteads (NNP)

Coordinates: N55.009974, W2.322925 Facilities: toilets, picnic spot, refreshments, visitor centre

Housesteads car park is not only well-signposted on the B6318 (the Military Road) travelling from both the east and west, it is right next to the road, although – situated on a bend and at a slight crest – it can appear suddenly. This is another of the Northumberland National Park car parks for which a season ticket can be acquired; an ordinary ticket bought from the machine here can be used on that day at any of the other National Park car parks along the Wall.

Advice

Always be aware of the possibility of thieves operating in the car park. Follow signs for the Hadrian’s Wall Path to access sites to either side of Housesteads. Stout footwear is advisable. Access to the fort and museum is by a paved path.

Housesteads car parkZone 3 (1km)

1. Housesteads museum and fort

2. Curtain wall Wall Mile 36

3. Knag Burn gateway

Zone 4 (2km)

4. Milecastle 37

5. Cuddy’s Crags classic viewpoint

6. Curtain wall Rapishaw Gap

7. Milecastle 36

8. Busy Gap ditch

Zone 5 (3km)

9. Curtain wall on Sewingshields Crags

10. Sewingshields Turret

11. Sewingshields Milecastle

Driving Hadrian’s Wall: the Main Car Parks IV (Steel Rigg)

Steel Rigg (NNP)

Coordinates: N55.002899, W2.391337 Facilities: picnic spot

Steel Rigg is well-signposted on the B6318 (the Military Road) travelling from both the east and west (the turning is opposite the turning for Vindolanda). This is another of the Northumberland National Park car parks for which a season ticket can be acquired; an ordinary ticket bought from the machine here can be used on that day at any of the other National Park car parks along the Wall.

Advice

Always be aware of the possibility of thieves operating in the car park. Follow signs for the Hadrian’s Wall Path to access sites to either side of Steel Rigg. Stout footwear is advisable. South and east of the car park is one of the finest stretches of ‘Claytonised’ curtain wall; please do not climb on it. In the event of very windy weather, or if you suffer from vertigo, the Military Way (4) makes an acceptable alternative route for reaching the points of interest.

Steel Rigg car parkZone 2 (500m)

1. Curtain wall and ditch Wall Mile 39

2. Peel Gap turret

3. Curtain wall Peel Crags

4. Military Way

Zone 3 (1km)

5. Milecastle 40

Zone 4 (2km)

6. Milecastle 39

7. Mons Fabricius

8. Sycamore Gap

9. Curtain wall Sycamore Gap

Driving Hadrian’s Wall: the Main Car Parks III (Cawfields Quarry)

Cawfields Quarry (NNP)

Coordinates: N54.993100, W2.450701 Facilities: toilets, picnic spot

Cawfields Quarry is well-signposted on the B6318 (the Military Road) travelling from both the east and west (the turning is opposite the Milecastle Inn). This is another of the Northumberland National Park car parks for which a season ticket can be acquired; an ordinary ticket bought from the machine here can be used on that day at any of the other National Park car parks along the Wall.

Advice

Always be aware of the possibility of thieves operating in the car park. Follow signs for the Hadrian’s Wall Path to access sites to either side of Cawfields Quarry. Stout footwear is advisable.

Cawfields Quarry car park planZone 1 (100m)

1. Wall ditch Wall Mile 42

Zone 2 (500m)

2. Milecastle 42

3. Vallum

4. Military Way

5. Curtain wall Wall Mile 41 (either way)

Zone 3 (1km)

6. Curtain Wall at Thorny Doors

7. Great Chesters fort

Zone 4 (2km)

8. Turret 41a

9. Milecastle 41

10. Milestone

Driving Hadrian’s Wall: the Main Car Parks II (Walltown Quarry)

Walltown Quarry (NNP)

Coordinates: N54.986800, W2.520391 Facilities: toilets, refreshments, picnic spot

Walltown Quarry (and the neighbouring Roman Army Museum) is well-signposted on the B6318 (the Military Road) travelling from both the east and west (the turning is 800m east of Greenhead). This is one of the Northumberland National Park car parks for which a season ticket can be acquired, but an ordinary ticket bought from the machine here can be used on that day at any of the National Park car parks along the Wall. Note that the sites east of Walltown Quarry can also be accessed from the free car park at Walltown Crags.

Advice

Always be aware of the possibility of thieves operating in the car park. Follow signs for the Hadrian’s Wall Path to access sites to either side of Walltown Quarry. Stout footwear is advisable.

Walltown Quarry car parkZone 1 (100m)

1. Wall ditch Wall Mile 45

Zone 3 (1km)

2. Curtain wall Wall Mile 45

3. Turret 45a

Zone 4 (2km)

4. Curtain wall Wall Mile 45

5. Milecastle 45

6. Turret 44b

 

Driving Hadrian’s Wall: the Main Car Parks I (Birdoswald)

Birdoswald (EH)

Coordinates: N54.991552, W2.600871 Facilities: none

Birdoswald is well-signposted on the A69 travelling from both the east and west. The English Heritage car park immediately east of Birdoswald fort is primarily designed for visitors to that monument. That much is clear from the fact that you can get the cost of your parking (£4 in 2015) reimbursed when you visit the fort. However, you can also use it for exploring the surrounding bits of Hadrian’s Wall.

Advice

Do not park in and obstruct the bus turning area (you should hear what coach drivers call the idiots who do this!) and do not leave valuables in your car. There are posters warning about thieves for a good reason (last time I was there some cars were broken into only a couple of days later). Follow signs for the Hadrian’s Wall Path to access sites to either side of Birdoswald. Stout footwear is advisable.

Map of the area around Birdoswald car park

Zone 1 (100m)

1. Birdoswald fort

2. Curtain wall (Wall Mile 49) east of Birdoswald

Zone 2 (500m)

3. Milecastle 49

4. Curtain wall (Wall Mile 49) west of Birdoswald

5. Turret 49b

Zone 3 (1km)

6. Willowford Bridge Abutment

7. Turf wall (Wall Mile 49)

Wall Mile 79

Wall Mile 79 [HB 366]

Our last mile of the Wall to the south-east of Bowness fort is a field boundary, some way to the south of the Trail, which wends its way along the shore road. Carry on walking and, as the road curves to the right and signs warn that the road can flood in high tides, we can look across a field gate, some 335m west of Milecastle 79 (NY 233 624), you can look south across the field to the hedge line that represents the course of the wall, where there is even a trace of the ditch (not that you can tell it from your vantage point).

Wall Mile 79 from the air

Wall Mile 79 from the air

Part of the curtain wall was still standing up to 6ft high here when first William Hutton, then John Skinner only a few weeks later, walked past in 1801, but it is now long gone.

Approaching Bowness

Approaching Bowness

Arriving at Bowness, if you are desperate to get your ‘passport’ stamped at the incongruous little shed that lurks off the main street (or just want a view over the estuary and some appreciation of the drumlinoid upon which the fort and village sit), follow the brown signs down the path to the right just after entering the village. Having admired the wildlife mosaics (and fighting off the feeling of anti-climax that greets our monumental effort of having got this far), we may carry on. Return to the main street and turn right towards the centre of the settlement. Some 90m on, to our left, we pass a red-sandstone byre with a blocked door, over which is a weathered Roman altar. The stone of the buildings, unsurprisingly, derives from the fort and the curtain wall.

Byre in Bowness with a Roman altar

Byre in Bowness with a Roman altar

Bowness-on-Solway fort (MAIA) [HB 367–70]

The fort of Maia lies beneath the village of Bowness. The significance of its location, apart from the conveniently raised ground of the drumlinoid, is that it is (or was) the lowest fording point of the Solway Firth. As William Camden observed, ‘at every ebbe the water is so low that the borderers and beast-stealers may easily wade over.’ The remains of the fort were evident when Camden visited in 1599 (‘tracts of streetes, ruinous walles, and an haven now stopped up with mud’), but there is now nothing to be seen of its fabric.

Part of the northern side of the fort has been lost to erosion, but it has been estimated that it occupied 2.8ha (7 acres) and identification of the site of the south gate has shown that the fort faced south-west. Excavation on the eastern defences in 1988 revealed that the primary grey clay rampart was cut back to allow the insertion of a sandstone defensive wall on a cobblestone foundation. The V-shaped ditch was found to be 4.5m wide and 2m deep. The fort housed a milliary unit (around 800 infantrymen), a fact betrayed not only by its size but also from the now-illegible inscription on that altar just mentioned, set up by the tribunus Sulpicius Secundianus to the emperors Gallus and Volusianus (AD 251–3). Another inscription, now in Carlisle, but this time in verse on an altar, records an offering by a trader that implies the lettering was originally gilded. The Notitia Dignitatum does not record a commander or garrison for the fort. Excavations near the west gate have shown that the first phase was of turf and timber, contemporary with the Turf Wall, and it was subsequently reconstructed at least twice in stone.

A noticeboard on the side of the King’s Arms has a plan, together with some useful information. The notional site of Milecastle 80 lies just to the west of our position outside the pub.

Milecastle 80 [Not mentioned in the HB; haiku]

Bowness from the air

Bowness from the air

Milecastle 80 has not been found. It is assumed to have been demolished to make way for Bowness fort, so it will only ever have been made of turf and timber (since it would have been part of the initial Turf Wall system).