Wall Mile 0

Prestumble

If you are actually considering walking the Wall, there are many good reasons for doing it from west to east. It is far, far better than going east to west. You’ll find my blog for that walk online for all to read for free, or you can get the ebook for a modest consideration. However, if you are determined to walk it east to west, then digitally is the best way (at least the wind and rain in your face will be virtual).

Our journey begins next to the remains of the former Swan Hunter shipyard, where the Wall apparently once ran into the river. Once, by all accounts, Geordie kids paddled and splashed around its remains, but that time has long gone. For us, Wallsend is the start of what we shall boldly term our Echtmauerwanderung along Hadrian’s Wall: a stroll per lineam valli (literally ‘along the line of the Wall’). This has one distinct virtue: the Wall is only 118.4km (73.5 miles) long, whereas the National Trail is 137.0km (85.1 miles), so we don’t have to walk so far but get to see more Wall!

Anyway, without more ado, let’s start at the very beginning. If you require more detail, feature headings include references to the appropriate page in the latest edition of Collingwood Bruce’s Handbook to the Roman Wall (and the map includes clickable links to other resources drawn from English Heritage’s PastScape website, DeFRA’s MAGIC mapping base, and – occasionally – from romanbritain.org).

Milecastle 0 [Not mentioned in the HB; haiku]

Although it has been suggested that the curtain wall may have begun with a riverside milecastle, there is as yet no evidence to support this notion, but redevelopment of the former shipyard may ultimately provide clarification on this point.

Wall Mile 0 [HB 371]

The Branch Wall

Branch Wall as excavated

The Branch Wall as excavated

Branch Wall now

The Branch Wall now

Before entering the fort and museum of Segedunum, head east along the main road for a few yards, then immediately right, and make your way up onto the bridge that takes the cycle path round the back of the fort. Heading west, you will soon see your first piece of Hadrian’s Wall. This bit is known as the Branch Wall and it is this that ran down into the Tyne. This bit has actually been moved a couple of times (it was found further to the south when the slipway for the RMS Mauritania was being built in 1903, moved to a nearby park, then back again when Segedunum was opened) but it is not the most mobile piece of the Wall. That distinction belongs to a fragment of the Branch Wall that was in a display case on the RMS Carpathia (which was fitting out at Wallsend at the time of its discovery) and appears to have been present when that ship went to the aid of the Titanic. It may even have been the only piece of Hadrian’s Wall to have been sunk by a U-boat in 1918! There is a model of the Carpathia upstairs in the industrial section of the museum, but no model of the U-boat.

Wallsend fort (SEGEDVNVM) [HB 131–8]

Plan of Wallsend fort

Plan of Wallsend fort

Wallsend is very far from the best-preserved fort along the line of the Wall; we shall see better examples of virtually all of its features. However, it is the only one that lays all of them out for our appreciation, and even offers a convenient tower from which to view them. The order in which we proceed around Segedunum (the name, which is Latinised Celtic, means something like ‘strong fort’) is a matter of taste, but for our purposes we shall visit the site first and then look at the museum.

Wallsend fort was built when the Wall was extended eastwards from the original terminus in Newcastle during the Hadrianic period, after the initial construction phase was well under way (so probably well into the AD120s). Occupying 1.6ha (4.1 acres), it was only some 6.4km (4 miles) from the next fort at Newcastle. The garrison was cohors II Nerviorum in the 2nd century and cohors I Lingonum in the 3rd and 4th centuries and both of these were auxiliary units that contained a mixture of infantry and cavalry (in other words, a cohors equitata). On Hadrian’s Wall, the legions did most (but not all) of the building and the auxiliaries most of the garrisoning (but, again, apparently not all).

Before the campaign of excavations in the 1970s, the fort site was covered by housing and just its outline was marked out in the streets, so if you think the remains are rather scrappy, bear that little fact in mind. Now a large portion of the fort has been cleared for display and only the portion under Buddle Street remains largely unexcavated. ‘Largely’, because the great Wall scholar F. G. Simpson tunnelled under that road to check whether the junction of the curtain wall and the fort proved them to be of one build: they were. There are fine views of the fort and the surrounding shipyards to be had from the viewing tower that is part of the recent site museum.

The Defences

Wallsend east gate

Wallsend east gate

The fort was surrounded by a stone wall backed by an earthen rampart and, like all forts of its kind, it had rounded corners. In each of those corners was a corner- or angle-tower, whilst gate towers flanked each twin-portalled entrance (centrally in the north and south sides, and just north of the curtain wall on the westerns side). An eastern gate matched the western, but an additional (single-portalled) western gate was placed between the curtain wall and the south-west corner, probably to facilitate access to the civil settlement or vicus. Wallsend is unique in this asymmetric arrangement of its gates, a product of its location in an angle in the course of the Wall. Additional towers were placed between each gate tower and its neighbouring corner tower and – by analogy with other, better-preserved forts – the whole thing as probably finished off by a walkway shielded by a crenelated parapet. The fort defences were further enhanced by a ditch which continued the line of the ditch of Hadrian’s Wall itself.

The HQ building

CO's house, HQ (with forehall) and granaries

CO’s house, HQ (with forehall) and granaries

The best place to start our tour of the internal buildings is with the administrative centre, the headquarters building (principia). It lies at the junction of the two principal streets of the fort, the east-to-west via principalis and the north-to-south via praetoria. Unusually for a Hadrian’s Wall fort, this junction was covered by a forehall, a feature found in many continental forts and possibly used for training under cover. South of that lie the standard features of an HQ building: a courtyard, then a cross-hall (the origin of the basilical form later adopted for churches), and then a rear range of offices, the central chamber of which was the chapel of the standards (aedes signorum), under which was a strong room in which the unit’s savings were kept.

The CO’s house

To the east of the principia was the commanding officer’s house (praetorium), where he (and his family, including slaves) lived, comfortably separated from his soldiers. This was a ‘Mediterranean-style’, inward-looking courtyard structure, with four ranges of rooms around a central yard or (more likely) garden.

The Granaries and Hospital

The granaries and (right) hospital

The granaries and (right) hospital

West of the HQ were two store-buildings or granaries (horrea), recognisable by their raised floors and external buttresses, and another courtyard building that has been interpreted as a hospital. The raised floors helped deter vermin and moderate the temperate of any stored goods, especially grain (the Roman army ate spelt wheat and fed their horses barley and oats), whilst the buttresses served only to confuse scholars (since calculations show therm to have been structurally unnecessary and, in fact, they were even left off some granaries elsewhere).

The Barracks

Cavalry barrack

Cavalry barrack

One of the most interesting aspects of Wallsend is its cavalry barracks, split between men and animals. The pits set into the ground, designed to catch the less pleasant by-products of a reliance upon horses, have been identified at an increasing number of Roman military sites. These are invariably accompanied by very high phosphate readings when tested. Cavalrymen were organised in a turma of 32 men (two to each barrack block), whereas infantrymen were placed in a century (centuria) of 80 men (one to each barracks). Since Wallsend housed a mixed unit, both infantry and cavalry, and we have the cavalry here in the southern third of the fort, then the infantry seem to have been based in the northern third.

In the south-western part of the site, there is a splendid (albeit mirror image) reconstruction (capable of working when built) of the Chesters bath-house (not, please note, on the site of the Wallsend bath-house, which was probably further to the south-west). This will bring home just how inadequate ruins can sometimes be at giving a true impression of the magnificence of a building, especially when we finally get to see the remains upon which it is based at Chesters. The baths are periodically opened for inspection and nearby is a small herb garden, showing the range of culinary and medicinal plants that might be found in Roman times. Make sure you see the reconstruction Roman latrine north of the main changing room.

Reconstructed bath-house

Reconstructed bath-house

Now it is time to return to the museum, but before we do, note the line of the Branch Wall (marked in cobbles) running down towards the Tyne from the south-east corner of the fort. On our way past, we can also have a look at the monument recording the names of every single Roman whose name has survived from the Wall (with space so new discoveries can be added).

Once in the museum, there is much to do and see, including a rather dramatic representation of stratigraphy, the accumulation of archaeological layers over time. When you have seen everything, pressed all the buttons, and been lectured by the Geordie centurion, find your way to the observation tower (there are both lifts and stairs to get you to the top). Up there, a video demonstration dramatically illustrates how the site has changed over time. There is a fine shopportunity in the foyer to part you from your money before you leave, but don’t buy too much: you will have to carry it with you.

Wall Mile 0 [HB 139–41]

Wallsend and Wall Mile 0 from the air

Wallsend and Wall Mile 0 from the air

Exit the fort and museum site and turn left, crossing Buddle Street by the zebra crossing at the bend in the road (exercising all due care). If you have time to spare, the positions of the northern barracks and defences are marked out to your right, but we are heading elsewhere.

Excavated and reconstructed curtain wall

Excavated and reconstructed curtain wall

Here, behind some railings, we have another treat in store, for here is one of the few full-height reconstructions of the curtain wall. Closer inspection reveals that the replica is in fact built slightly to the south of the excavated wall, a series of short stubby posts marking the position of a series of pits which we now know formed berm obstacles. These would have been filled with something like thorn bushes to form the Roman equivalent of a barbed-wire entanglement. The excavated length is actually considerably more than that consolidated, but much still lies under plastic, awaiting the time when funds permit its consolidation too. When examined, it was found that the wall along here collapsed due to proximity to a stream. The collapse of bits of Hadrian’s Wall will become a recurring theme for our journey.

Now we can turn our attention to the reconstructed curtain wall. Although building regulations demanded that it be built to modern standards and with a completely inaccurate handrail at the back, it gives a good impression of the state of our knowledge of what the curtain wall actually looked like. Go towards the back, noting as you pass the severe weathering that the modern building inscription has already suffered. We shall briefly resist the temptation to mount the steps, but instead direct our attention to the base of those stairs, at the west end of the south face of the wall. Here, several different interpretations of a debate as to whether the curtain wall was plastered, whitewashed, or flush-pointed have been realised and it will be readily apparent that the whitewash option is already nearly completely vanished.

Pointing, rendering, and whitewashing

Pointing, rendering, and whitewashing

Next we can proceed up the stairs. Here it is possible to appreciate just how much room the narrower curtain wall of this sector (the wall to the west of Newcastle is built to a broader gauge) provides for a walkway, even allowing for a parapet. Note too the efficacy of the merlons at providing protection for defenders (although some might argue for broader merlons, these are details to which we have no definitive answers at the moment). This is a splendid example of the value of physical reconstruction; sometimes CGI just will not do.

Wall walk and parapet

Wall walk and parapet

Once we have finished inspecting this, and perhaps taken a look at the remains of the 19th-century colliery that used to sit atop the fort, it is time to start walking. Leave the fenced area and turn right down Buddle Street. We are going to be separated from the course of the Wall for a short distance, but don’t fret: we shall soon be reunited. At the roundabout, continue across onto Neptune Road, and then another roundabout and slight bend in the road takes us onto Fossway. After two more roundabouts, the Miller’s Dene recreation ground on our right-hand side marks the location of Milecastle 1, with the course of the Wall and Fossway converging but not yet meeting.

Milecastle 1 (Stott’s Pow) [HB 141; haiku]

Stott's Pow, site of Milecastle 1

Stott’s Pow, site of Milecastle 1

This milecastle has never been confirmed, although what has been interpreted as occupation material has been found. It used to be placed further to the east on Ordnance Survey maps. Nevertheless, both Horsley and MacLauchlan reported seeing it here so this is now the accepted location.

PLVad2

Advertisements

Corbridge (Part III)

The Street

Between the two legionary compounds is a a street running north to south and this is of huge significance for a number of reasons. First, it is on the line of the via praetoria (the main street) of the early forts: stand on it and look to the north and you will see the remains of the shrine of the standards of the last of those forts, retained as a workman’s hut in the middle of Site 11 by its constructors. So the heart of Roman Corbridge, the junction between this street and the Stanegate, was also the focal point of the earlier forts: the groma, which was quite literally the point from which the first fort was originally surveyed (using an instrument called – you guessed it – the groma).

Corbridge Via Praetoria

Corbridge: the via praetoria of the early forts

Now the Roman army had a tradition, which was that when they set out a camp, fort, or fortress, the via praetoria would always either face the enemy or face east. Most of the Hadrian’s Wall forts face north, except Housesteads which, because of the awkward terrain, had to be shoehorned into place by making it face east. Corbridge, on the other hand, always faced south. Moreover, it was not alone; its twin site, Carlisle, also faced south, as recent excavations have demonstrated. This is an important point in any discussion of the Stanegate as a frontier system and one to which we shall return.

We have commented on the subsidence into the fort ditches that lie under the east compound and the same phenomenon is visible to the west. It is also just visible to either side of the road where the ditch terminals were situated, and excavation by Ian Richmond and Eric Birley just to the north of these, on the west side of the street near one of the water tanks (and deep beneath the modern surface), found the remains of one of the gate posts from the earliest fort.

Later, that same street, broadened considerably, went on to divide the two legionary compounds. There is small joke here, because the two compounds faced each other, thereby making it quite plain where each legionary detachment thought the ‘enemy’ lay!

The Western legionary compound

The gateway into the western compound lies opposite its companion to the east, but immediately north of it lies an apsidal building (Site 40), slightly recessed into the line of the east wall of the compound. In fact, close inspection reveals that the compound wall butts against the other structure, clearly showing that it already existed and had had to be accommodated by the compound when it was constructed. Let’s mosey over and have a look at it. There is an apse at its western end and an entrance to the east. Outside that entrance, on the street, is a small portico marked by four column bases. Richmond and Birley thought that this was a schola or military guild building (trendy, remember?), but it is equally possible that it was in fact a small temple. With the recent discovery of a Dolichenum within the stone fort at Vindolanda, we know temples could be included within forts. The corresponding respect shown for this structure at Corbridge may indicate that it too had some ritual significance. When it was first excavated, back in 1912, a strange series of channels was identified under the floor: the mystery only deepens.

Site 40, the apsidal building

Site 40, the apsidal building

Site 40S

Site 40S

Within the compound gateway and to the south lie the northernmost extremities of a set of structures (Site 40S), again originally excavated before the First World War and now mostly reburied. They are, however, mirrored (and better preserved) to the north of the road, so let us examine those. These buildings (Site 40N) resemble miniature cavalry barracks, aligned north to south, broad at either end and narrow in the middle, and set in pairs, back-to-back. Richmond and Birley called these Workshops I to IV (numbering from the east), a designation heavily influenced by what they found inside: massive amounts of metalworking debris (in particular smithing, with large numbers of arrowheads and pilum points discovered). It is worth remembering something archaeologists often forget: the function of a site need not always have been the same, the last one usually leaving the most obvious traces. So whilst they may indeed have been workshops in the final, united, compound, it does not necessarily follow that that was their initial intended purpose in the western legionary compound. Indeed, the fact that they resemble miniature barrack blocks may just give a clue to that original function.

Site 40N, Workshops I–IV

Site 40N, Workshops I–IV

Strongroom of Site 45

Strongroom of Site 45

A large water tank lay to the south of the westernmost of these barracky workshops, its vast upright slabs originally caulked with lead to make it waterproof, and then we come face-to-face with another miniature legionary headquarters building (Site 45), since we have arrived at the groma of this compound. Like its companion to the east, which it faces, this building has no courtyard but just a cross-hall and a series of three offices to the rear. The central room was the shrine of the standards and a staircase led down from it to the south, into the underground strongroom. Your mileage on whether you are allowed down into this may vary (sometimes it floods) and it is often fussily surrounded by a rope barrier (a health-and-safety precaution, to avoid the massive numbers of people who fell into it in preceding years; site staff were forever having to shovel corpses out of it*). The steps are very narrow so need care negotiating them, but once down in the base you can inspect the careful stonework and just make out that the topmost level of facing stones is in fact slightly corbelled because, just like the example at Chesters, this strongroom was originally vaulted. The entrance way jambs consist of two massive monolithic slabs, a technique we see used in buildings at Chesters too. Here would be kept the soldiers’ savings and their pay (which were probably often one and the same thing, due to one of those accounting sleights-of-hand that any banker performs with money by ensuring that much of it is always theoretical and existing only in record form). In its final form, the HQ building was given an apse to the rear of the shrine of the standards and (bizarrely) a bath wing to the north.

The junction between the unifying and west compound walls

The junction between the unifying and west compound walls

We can now head up to the south-west corner of the archaeological site and look back over this western compound. Its wall snakes around the military structures and again carefully avoids pre-existing structures to the north, one of which (Site 4) was found to contain large amounts of pottery during excavation in 1906, thereby earning it the nickname ‘the pottery shop’ ever after. Both compound walls were symbolic, rather than defensive, and recall a similar wall that divided the military area of the garrison city of Dura-Europos in Syria from the (much larger) civilian part. At Corbridge, not only were civilians and legionaries being kept apart, the two legionary detachments were segregated too! Inscriptions to harmony (concordia) between the legionary detachments here are classic indicators of its absence on occasion whilst a statue base to the Discipline of the Emperors (discipulina Augustorum), found tumbled down the stairs of that strongroom, may also be indicative of behavioural difficulties amongst the legionaries. Ultimately, the model of two separate legionary compounds was changed, a new uniting wall built across the street between the compounds, and much of the old compound walls demolished to turn it into one vast military zone, with Site 45 as its HQ.

The museum

Having looked at the site we can now head for the museum and look at some of the goodies on display. before entering, note the headless stone lion at is southern end. This is one of the Shorden Brae lions, vandalised a few years ago, when its head was knocked off and stolen.

A Corbridge lion

A Corbridge lion

The museum not only contains the usual material detritus of any archaeological site (pottery, metalwork, glass) in admirable qualities (and what is on display is only a tiny proportion of what has been found), but there is also the inscriptions and sculpture, most of which was re-used as hardcore by the Romans, mainly to build up the Stanegate. The inscriptions help make the point of the importance of Corbridge as a military site, with the granary slabs recording construction by Lollius Urbicus prior to advancing into Scotland, the Sol Invictus stone, and various building records from the units based here. Examine the rich selection of sculpture, most of it religious in nature and including the most famous of the Coridge lions, and then finish by exploring the shopportunity (which, like most English Heritage properties these days, has a disconcertingly large alcoholic section: are EH attempting to turn the middle classes into lushes?).

In Part IV, we will finish with Corbridge by examining hordes, hoards, and the Hoard.

*This is of course a joke; the casualty rate is comparatively low.

The PLV eboojs

Wall Mile 0

Wall Mile 0 [HB 371]

Just when everybody has been telling you Hadrian’s Wall is 80 Roman miles long, you discover that in fact it was 81! Due to an accounting error (or perhaps somebody simply got out of bed on the wrong side one wall-numbering day), the first Wall Mile is Wall Mile 0, not Wall Mile 1 as you might expect. To be fair, nobody has ever actually found MC1 or even MC0, nor are they completely sure where they might be, since it all depends where the start is measured from. Of course, this is (all too literally) a measure of our lack of understanding of the problem, rather than any obfuscation on the part of the Romans who, so far as we know, never even bothered numbering it.

If we continue eastwards along Fossway it eventually turns into Maurice Road and then, striking north-eastwards, becomes Neptune Road and then Buddle Street. At this point, the Segedunum museum at Wallsend fort becomes evident to our right and, to our left, a reconstructed length of the curtain wall.

Wallsend and Wall Mile 1

Wallsend and Wall Mile 1

Closer inspection reveals that the replica is in fact built slightly to the south of the excavated curtain wall, a series of short stubby posts marking the position of yet more berm obstacles. The excavated length is actually considerably more than that consolidated, but much still lies under plastic, awaiting the time when funds permit its consolidation too. When examined, it was found that the wall along here collapsed due to proximity to s stream.

The reconstructed curtain wall next to the original

The reconstructed curtain wall next to the original

Now we can turn our attention to the reconstructed curtain wall. Although building regulations demanded that it be built to modern standards and with a completely inaccurate handrail at the back, it gives a good impression of the state of our knowledge of what the curtain wall actually looked like. Go towards the back, noting as you pass the sever weathering that the modern building inscription has already suffered. We shall briefly resist the temptation to mount the steps, but instead direct our attention to the base of those stairs, at the west end of the south face of the wall. Here, several different interpretations of the plastered/whitewashed/pointed debate have been realised and it will be readily apparent that the whitewash option is already nearly completely vanished.

The reconstructed curtain wall

The reconstructed curtain wall

Now we may proceed up the stairs. Here it is possible to appreciate just how much room the narrower curtain wall of this sector provides for a walkway, even allowing for a parapet. Note too the efficacy of the merlons at providing protection for defenders (although some might argue for broader merlons these are details to which we have no definitive answers at the moment). This, together with the Vindolanda reconstructions, is a splendid example of the value of physical reconstruction; sometimes CGI just will not do.

Experiments in whitening the Wall

Experiments in whitening the Wall

Once we have finished inspecting this, and perhaps taken a look at the remains of the old colliery that used to sit atop the fort, we may cross over and head for the entrance of the museum.

The order in which we proceed is a matter of taste, but for our purposes we will visit the site first and then look at the museum.

The reconstructed parapet and walkway on the curtain wall

The reconstructed parapet and walkway on the curtain wall

Wallsend fort (SEGEDVNVM)

It was once thought that Wallsend fort was an afterthought, constructed when the course of the Wall was extended in the Hadrianic period, although this has recently been questioned. Occupying 1.6ha (4.1 acres), it was only some 6.4km (4 miles) from Newcastle. The garrison was cohors II Nerviorum in the 2nd century and cohors I Lingonum in the 3rd and 4th centuries and both of these were part-mounted.

Wallsend from the air

Wallsend from the air

Before the campaign of excavations in the 1970s, the fort was covered by housing and just its outline was marked out in the streets. Now a large portion of the fort has been cleared for display, with fine views of it and the surrounding shipyards from the viewing tower that is part of the recent site museum.

We may examine the remains of the commanding officer’s house, headquarters building (with its forehall, a feature found in many continental forts and possibly used for training under cover), granaries, and hospital (another of those extra courtyard buildings).

Granaries at Wallsend

Granaries at Wallsend

One of the most interesting aspects of Wallsend is its cavalry barracks, split between men and animals. The pits set into the ground, designed to catch the less pleasant by-products of a reliance upon horses, have been identified at an increasing number of Roman military sites. These are invariably accompanied by very high phosphate readings when tested.

The reconstructed bath-house

The reconstructed bath-house

In the south-western part of the site, there is a splendid (albeit mirror image) reconstruction (capable of working) of the Chesters bath-house (not, please note, on the site of the Wallsend bath-house). This will bring home just how inadequate ruins can sometimes be at giving a true impression of the magnificence of a building. The baths are periodically opened for inspection and nearby is a small herb garden, showing the range of culinary and medicinal plants that might be found in Roman times.

The Branch Wall

The Branch Wall

Now it is time to return to the museum, but before we do, note the fragment of the Branch Wall running down towards the Tyne from the south-east corner of the fort. This was found when the slipway for the RMS Mauretania was being constructed at Swan Hunter’s, moved to a nearby park and re-erected, then moved back here once the Segedunum project was under way. Part of the Branch Wall, however, was put aboard the RMS Carpathia, which was fitting out at the time, and appears to have been present when that ship went to the aid of the Titanic, and may even have been the only piece of Hadrian’s Wall to have been sunk by a U-boat in 1918! There is a model of the Carpathia in the industrial section of the museum. On our way past, we can have a look at the monument recording the names of every single Roman whose name has survived from the Wall (with space so new discoveries can be added).

Once in the museum, there is much to do and see, including a rather dramatic representation of stratigraphy, the accumulation of archaeological layers over time. Once you have seen everything, pressed all the buttons, and been lectured by the Geordie centurion, find your way to the observation tower (there are both lifts and stairs to get you to the top). Once up there, a video demonstration dramatically illustrates how the site has changed over time.

Leaving the museum, if you want a closer look at the Branch Wall, turn right onto the main road, then immediately right again, and head up onto the bridge that takes the cycle path round the back of the fort. Heading west, you will soon see the last bit of the Branch Wall, unencumbered now by railings.

The mobile Branch Wall from the slipway

The mobile Branch Wall from the slipway

Milecastle 0 [Not mentioned in the HB; haiku]

It has been speculated that the curtain wall may have terminated in a final milecastle, but there is absolutely no evidence for this, although redevelopment of the old Swan Hunter yard may well ultimately reveal the truth.

Sunset over Wallsend

Sunset over Wallsend

This, then, is where we shall finish our journey, next to the remains of the Swan Hunter shipyard, where the Wall trundles merrily off towards the Tyne. Once, Geordie kids paddled and splashed around the remains of the Wall as it disappeared into the water, but that time has long gone. For us, Wallsend assumes its true role, as the end of our Echtmauerwanderung along the Wall.

The PLV ebooks

Wall Mile 36

Wall Mile 36 [HB 231–50]

Leaving Milecastle 37, we head east towards the plantation and a rare treat: the only chance to actually walk on the wall. Once upon a time, walkers merrily yomped along the top of the curtain wall in the central sector without giving much thought to the damage they were doing. Increases in visitor numbers mean such access has had to be limited to one carefully controlled section, here in the woods immediately west of Housesteads fort. It should be pointed out that the drop to the north is a bit hairy, so the vertiginously inclined can walk on a path immediately to the south of the curtain wall. There is a popular climbing pitch along here and occasionally richly accoutred climbers will pop up whilst you are heading along the top. Smile benignly at them and pass on.

Before long, we exit the plantation and a gate on the right takes you down past the fort to pay for a ticket at the small museum to examine Housesteads itself, whilst the Trail itself rather grumpily lurches to the left and would take you along the northern wall of the fort and down a rather steep and badly eroded slope without a chance of a peek at this most impressive of forts. The museum has a small display about the site and some of the finds, as well as a bijou shopportunity.

Housesteads from the air

Housesteads from the air

Housesteads fort (VERCOVICIVM)

By dint of visitor numbers alone, Housesteads is the best-known and most popular Roman fort in Britain. For many, it is Hadrian’s Wall. It lies 9.7km (6 miles) beyond its neighbour, Great Chesters, but only 3.2km (2 miles) from the Stanegate fort of Vindolanda (the older name for which, Chesterholm, is seldom used now). Housesteads is another fort that is oriented east to west, in this case in order to fit it into the limited available space at the end of the dolerite ridge above the gap through which the Knag Burn flows. As it is, it occupies 2ha (5 acres) and still slopes quite considerably inside.

A water tank

A water tank

There was no ready source of fresh water within the fort, although there is the Knag Burn down the hill which supplied the bath-house down there. Therefore, quite unusually for a British fort and more in keeping with its cousins in Jordan or Syria, Housesteads was dependent upon the collection of run-off from roofs and road surfaces, so great attention was paid to the provision of water tanks. This in turn allowed the flushing of the latrine building in the south-east corner of the fort.

The garrison was the cohors I Tungrorum milliaria (about 800 infantrymen), which moved there from Vindolanda (the Tungri originated west of the Rhine, around the Ardennes). It was later supplemented by a cuneus Frisiorum and the numerus Hnaudifridi, both quite clearly Germanic in origin. The depiction of an archer on a sculpted panel from Housesteads (now in the Great North Museum, so we can see it later) has led to the suggestion that a detachment of cohors I Hamiorum (who we know were based in the Stanegate fort of Carvoran) may have been based there at some point (and they came from Hamah in Syria).

SW corner of Housesteads

SW corner of Housesteads

From the museum, we can make our way to the entrance to the fort (which will soon revert to the south gate, after many years of being through a gap in the south wall near the south-west corner), but should pause briefly on the way to look at the exterior of the south-west corner, noting the Crunchie-bar-shaped blocks of stone that were used to repair it in the late Roman period.

South gate at Housesteads

South gate at Housesteads

Duly enlightened, we can now proceed to the south gate. The first thing to note about this double-portalled gateway is that it has been adapted and the east tower has acquired an additional structure, since this was a fortified medieval farm, notorious in its day for the unruly nature of its inhabitants, as well as a corn dryer in its eastern tower. The south gate itself, you will not be surprised to learn, had its east portal blocked (and the blocking removed by 19th-century excavators). The central pier (or spina) between the portals contains two fine examples of pivot holes for the gates, each with channels to allow the gate leaf to be fitted. Looking up the hill from the gate, we are looking along the via principalis (the main short-axis street) from the porta principalis recta (or south gate) towards the porta principalis sinistra (or north gate, which we can’t actually see because of the shape of the hill). So now it is time to go exploring the central range, since this is the first fort we have encountered that will let us examine all three principal components.

The CO's house

The CO’s house

First, on our left-hand side, we see the commanding officer’s house (praetorium). Although it conforms to the Mediterranean-style, high-status courtyard dwelling, it is a radically unusual example: the awkward terrain has forced its builders to terrace it into the hillside. The south-eastern corner contained a stable, whilst the east and west wings climb up the slope to the north wing, which is considerably higher than the south and has been taken to imply a second storey at the lower level (thereby pre-empting the medieval Borderers’ habit of living above their animals). The courtyard in the centre is worth a look, as it has been paved in a late phase with Crunchie-bar-shaped blocks and even bits of window head (monolithic blocks with a semi-circular cut-out, imitating an arch, that acted as lintels above window openings): heritage hardcore as crazy paving. The north range has a series of rooms with underfloor heating, something of a prerequisite for this area in a winter, but actually a common feature in commanding officers’ houses everywhere. The commander and his familia (his slaves being included within that term) lived and worked within those four ranges of rooms, socially delineated, functionally adapted, and decidedly terraced.

The HQ building

The HQ building

Now we move uphill to the principia or headquarters building, a fine example of its kind. Entering from the main north to south street (the via principalis, if you recall), we encounter the first of the three components of this building: the courtyard. Open to the elements, but surrounded by a peristyle, it harked back to the days when the centre of a Roman camp was its forum, where the soldiers could assemble. The Romans had no gutters on roofs, so there was an eavesdrip round the courtyard which channelled the run-off into the drainage system. Moving westwards, we proceed into the cross-hall, a high covered structure with additional entrances at each end (to our left and right). To our right is the raised podium or tribunal (yes, that’s where we get the English word from) from which the commander could address his troops or, more likely, his centurions at the daily morning briefing (for which we have documentary evidence from other sites), when the daily password was set and unit statistics passed on. In front of us is the rear range of offices, with the shrine of the standards, the aedes principiorum, directly in front of us. Remember, this is placed so that it is visible from the porta praetoria, in this case behind us, to the east. Offices on either side of the aedes contained the clerks who handled unit administration and looked after the records.

The hospital

The hospital

Immediately to the west of the headquarters building is an additional courtyard structure. Since another house seemed unlikely, the excavators decided this must have been a valetudinarium or hospital. All forts had them (the example at Vindolanda is mentioned in the famous writing tablets) so it is not an unreasonable deduction, although the evidence (similarity with other, larger, such structures) is circumstantial, rather than conclusive (like, say, a lopped-off limb or two or a set of medical implements). Rooms were arranged on four sides around a courtyard, one of them suggested as an operating theatre (it is bigger than the others), and with a latrine incorporated in the south-west corner of the structure.

North granary

North granary

The fort had two granaries, to the north of the HQ, but they are rather unusual, since it has been suggested they may originally have constituted one large structure. A central row of column bases, subsequently concealed between the north wall of the south granary, and the south one of its northern neighbour, are one clue, whilst those two butted partitions, inserted between the end walls, are another. If we stand at the west end of the northern granary, in its doorway, there are a number of useful things we can note. To the east is the interior, with its floor (long gone now) raised on small stone columns or pilae; these, together with the ventilator slots in the side walls, allowed air to circulate beneath the floor to keep the contents cool and (it is always said) discourage (but not necessarily completely defeat) vermin. The threshold upon which we are standing is in fact a loading platform, against which carts could be backed up, so that gives us a good idea of street level here in the Roman period. Looking down, you can see that sockets and openings reveal that there were once two inward-opening doors here. If feeling energetic, we can nip round to the south side of the south granary to see more evidence of the adaptation of this fort building into a medieval farm: another corn dryer in the middle of it.

Turret 36b foundations

Turret 36b foundations

Just north of the granaries, beyond another store building squeezed into the available space, we find the remains of Turret 36b, demolished (along with a stretch of Hadrian’s Wall) once it was decided to construct Housesteads. The north wall of the fort was pushed further north, right to the lip of the slope, to gain as much room as possible, hence the need to level the existing curtain wall.

The north gate

The north gate

The north gate now has an imposing drop below its external threshold, but this is a result of a causeway having been removed during the 19th-century excavations. We can stand near the edge and look at the usual attributes of a gateway, most notably marking-out lines which facilitate the placing of the massive opus quadratum blocks of the gate piers and jambs.

Between the north gate and the north-east corner, the Romans suffered repeated problems with the stability of the wall now that it was placed nearer the edge of the slope. This was compounded by the habit of removing the rampart to insert rampart-back buildings like workshops, then demolishing them and putting the rampart back! Anyway, several collapses later, they started reinforcing the back of the much-abused rampart, the back of which (marked now by lines of kerb stones) crept ever further across the road towards the barrack. What started out with room to drive a cart along ended up barely wide enough for a single person to get through. Excavations showed those workshops were busy working with leather (mainly cobbling, since the water tanks ended up full of old shoes, betrayed by their hobnails), blacksmithing, and casting copper-alloy equipment.

Things had also gone a bit wrong at the north-east corner of the fort at a very early stage. Placing the angle tower in the correct position meant, inconveniently, that it was not at the junction with Hadrian’s Wall itself (one wonders at which point this was noticed!), so that was demolished and a new tower placed slightly to the west of it. This speaks volumes about how the whole story of the Wall was one of adaptation (or fudge, the unkind might observe).

Barrack XIII

Barrack XIII

Two barrack buildings, XIII and XIV, have been consolidated in their late ‘chalet’ form, with each contubernium in the form of a separate hut, but more standard long barracks were located beneath them and some of the walls were reused in the later versions. The officers’ buildings were at the east end of the buildings and one of them contained a piece of a hackamore from a horse harness. Next to Barrack XIV, to the south, was Building XV, originally a storehouse and later adapted to contain a small bath-house. Note those Crunchie-bar-shaped stones used in its reconstruction. East of the two barracks is a late interval tower, but that is perched (rather precariously) on top of a larger Hadrianic bakehouse that was found to contain two circular bread ovens (which you can no longer see), presumably one for each barrack.

The east gate

The east gate

The east gate has a potent piece of folk mythology associated with it, the ruts in the threshold block supposedly influencing the Standard Gauge of 4ft 8½in (1.435m) adopted by Stephenson for his railways. The debunking of this myth is done with the aid of horses’ bottoms (naturally). The axle width of a cart is dictated by the need to comfortably fit a horse into the poles; hence modern carts resemble Roman carts in a lot of details, including axle width. Since railways evolved out of the horse-drawn waggonway carts that hauled coal along Tyneside from mine to staithe, also one horse’s width, we have our equally interesting, but less romantic, answer: it’s a coincidence.

Moving on downhill, we see the remains of an ascensus or stairway to the south of the east gate. This is one of the means by which soldiers got onto the rampart walkway. Next there is another interval tower before we reach the heavily modified south-east corner tower and its attendant facilities.

The latrine

The latrine

This corner provides everybody’s favourite bit of Housesteads: the latrine. This much-sniggered over piece of functional engineering was flushed by water held on the large header tank with the scalloped edges, the water passing clockwise around the inner channel so that soldiers’ sponge sticks could be rinsed, and then anti-clockwise around the sewer beneath the seating space, finally debouching through an arched outlet straight into the civil settlement. Property prices in that area were probably rock-bottom.

The sewer outfall

The sewer outfall

The scalloping around the tank has caused some comment, it often being suggested that this was caused by soldiers sharpening blades (unlikely, since hones, found by the dozen in the fort, were a much more efficient way of doing that). It may instead have been caused by washing clothes, the slight downward trend of the ‘scallops’ being a possible indication of this. Like much of life, if you have to sum up Hadrian’s Wall (and certainly Housesteads), you can probably do it with this latrine.

North pier of west gate

North pier of west gate

Now, how keen are you on gates? For the sake of completeness, you should see the splendid west gate on the far side of the fort but we shall be understanding if you decided to skip this part of the tour; we can leave you sitting morosely on part of the site (assuming it’s not raining, which it does quite a lot at Housesteads). Two portals again, both ultimately blocked (the northern first, it is suggested), and the north pier surviving to the height of the arch springer. Slots can still be found to secure the gates, as can the usual sockets, threshold blocks, and more marking-out lines.

'Murder House' in the civil settlement

‘Murder House’ in the civil settlement

Outside the fort are some of the vicus buildings. Next to the south gate is the House of the Beneficarius [sic] (yes, there were even spelling errors on old Ministry of Works signs), and further down the hill is the inspiringly named Murder House (you’ll never guess what happened there: two Roman bodies under a newly laid floor, one with the tip of a blade between the ribs). Don’t make the mistake of thinking the circular well enclosure is Roman; that belongs to Housesteads’ long history as a farmstead, rather than a Roman fascination with building circular structures with no apparent entrance.

We can usefully resume our journey by passing round the outside of the south-east corner of the fort and making our way diagonally down the slope towards where the curtain wall crosses the Knag Burn. As we go, examine the outer face of the fort wall and see more long blocks typical of late rebuilding: this is one heavily patched fort!

The valley of the Knag Burn was not only the site of the bath-house for Housesteads (no longer visible) but also a gateway through the Wall.

The Knag Burn gateway

The Knag Burn gateway

Knag Burn Gateway, thought to have been built during the 4th century and examined in the mid-19th century, consists of two towers, one on either side of a single portal. As such, it is not particularly noteworthy, but it does give us a clue what the gateways on Roman roads at Carlisle, Portgate, and (possibly) Newcastle looked like. This, however, is not on a major road, but rather a minor route, perhaps a pre-existing transhumance route. Interestingly, there were two sets of pivot holes and it has been suggested that two sets of gates were in use at the same time. Clearly, there may have been other gates along the Wall which have not as yet been found.

Looking back towards Housesteads

Looking back towards Housesteads

The Trail now leads us on into an angle in two field walls where a stile takes us over and into another plantation. A short length of ditch survives to the north-west of the plantation but has not been identified over the rest of the Knag Burn valley, although it might have been anticipated. Out the other side and we are now yet again following a field wall to our left that is on top of the curtain wall. The ditch stops as we ascend Kennel Crags but the Military Way is still with us to the south. Further down the dip slope is the Vallum, die-straight as ever. We climb a small hill, descend into another gap, then climb higher to a small plateau, King’s Hill, where we find our next milecastle.

Milecastle 36 (King’s Hill) [HB 231–2; haiku]

Milecastle 36 (King’s Hill) was a long-axis example perched on a hill, overlooking Busy Gap to the north-east. The identity of the king in question will become clearer once we get up onto Sewingshields Crags in a short while.

Wall Mile 49

Wall Mile 49 [HB 291–309]

Regardless of whether we are following the Trail (which soon dives downhill to join the Stone Wall after passing Milecastle 50 TW) or walking along the road, our paths now (almost) unite on either side of a section of consolidated curtain wall. Having had our interest piqued by the short stretch on either side of Banks East Turret, this is the first substantial length of curtain wall to be encountered when walking from west to east, but it is rather unusual compared to much of the rest of the Stone Wall. This is because, as we have just realised, it is not built on the line of the Turf Wall, which runs up to 200m to the south (at the Milecastles 50), and was constructed shortly before Hadrian’s Wall was abandoned in favour of the Antonine Wall in the AD 140s, being built to the narrow, rather than intermediate, gauge. At the western end, this stretch of curtain wall has been damaged on its northern face by the road but, by the time it reaches Turret 49b (Birdoswald), its full width is intact.

Stone Wall leading to Birdoswald

Stone Wall leading to Birdoswald

For those who have opted to follow the Turf Wall, this consolidated section of stone wall and its turret can still be reached from the Trail by climbing over the stile at Turret 49b. Some 12m west of the turret, on the top course of the south face of the curtain wall, the first of three phallic symbols in this wall mile can be seen. The turret, the entrance to which is on the right, is bonded to the curtain wall – in contrast to those already seen (52a, 51b and 51a) – and was never free-standing. Since it is on the Intermediate Wall, it was constructed after those to the east of the Irthing and before the move to the Antonine Wall. It was first excavated in 1911 and consolidated for display in 1953–5.

Turret 49b

Turret 49b

Heading west, we may note in passing a number of drains through the wall at ground level before reaching a gap where a section has been removed many years ago around the entrance to the field. There is another damaged section further on, this time with a disguised stile incorporated, so the wall can be crossed if wished to see the remnants of the ditch to the north of the road. This section terminates near Birdoswald fort, where the old farm access track runs across the line of the wall and the corner of the fort has been neatly rounded off when a ditch was run all round the fort. However, at ground level, the foundations of the junction of the wall and the fort is still visible; the wall butts against the fort as the stone fort pre-dates the construction of the stone wall.

A hidden stile

A hidden stile

Birdoswald fort (BANNA)

The Turf Wall originally strode across the site of the fort at Birdoswald unhindered. When the decision to add forts was made, it is fairly certain (although not yet proven) that the first here was constructed in turf and timber, flattening the Turf Wall rampart and Turret 49a TW, and filling in the ditch. That first fort seems to have been slightly smaller than the stone one we see today, for when the Vallum was built, it avoided the southern end of it with a slight detour, although not enough to avoid successfully the stone fort defences. So much for the early fort, which we can’t even see, but it is time for a brief tour of the stone one, which is admirably apparent.

The Trail guides us up the western side, amongst some trees, and along the northern defences of the fort, on the road to the English Heritage entrance. After entering and paying, another door takes us into a courtyard. Public conveniences are to the right, the museum to the left. Entering the museum at ground level there is an audiovisual presentation in a room to the right whilst the stairs take us up to the main gallery, through a reconstruction of a turret. There are various items of interest here, but at the far end of the gallery, just before the exit, note the ‘stuffed archaeologist’, a passable likeness of Tony Wilmott, director of excavations here since the 1980s and even rumoured to be wearing one of his old wax jackets.

Exiting the museum, we make for the path to the right of the youth hostel and this leads to the west gate (porta principalis sinistra) of the fort. A causeway pierced by a drain crosses the fort ditch, bringing a road through the one surviving gate portal; the other, to the right of it, is blocked. The blocking of twin-portalled gateways will become a theme for our journey along the Wall. To the right of the blocked gateway is some very fine masonry, about the only true example of ashlar masonry you will see on this trip. Most of the stonework on Hadrian’s Wall is what masons term ‘squared rubble’ so this piece is rather special and it has been suggested that it may originally have been part of some sort of commemorative monument constructed here. Crossing the causeway, we can see that the guardroom to the left has been given underfloor heating in its later years, whilst the blocked portal to our right has also been used as a room. When excavated, the Turf Wall ditch was found here, carefully backfilled with rubble.

Once inside the fort, it is important to understand that, for display purposes, the later years of the fort’s occupation have been emphasised. This is not unreasonable, for Birdoswald is especially interesting, in that it demonstrates continuity of occupation from the Roman period, through the early medieval and medieval fortified settlements, right up to modern times and its earlier life as a working farm and subsequent career as a visitor attraction.

Time for a whirlwind tour of a generic Roman fort. All forts had a tee-shaped main road system, with the via principalis running across the fort and the via praetoria running from the main gate (usually on the northern side for Hadrian’s Wall forts) to the headquarters building. In addition, these were all linked by the via sagularis, which ran right the way round the inside of the defences. Key to the way Roman forts operated was their zoning into three parts: a central range of buildings contained the commanding officer’s house, store buildings (often now called granaries), and in the centre a headquarters building. The other two thirds, at either end, were mainly occupied by barracks and (where appropriate) stables. Sundry utilities (cooking facilities, latrines, workshops etc) were scattered around the periphery of a fort. Now you know Roman forts: they are all the same; except they’re not. But we’ll come to that later. Let’s just compromise on ‘they’re all similar’.

At Birdoswald, the two granaries – which are on the right, to the south of the via principalis – were found to have been demolished and overlain by a large timber hall in the post-Roman period and the positions of its main uprights are marked by post stubs. The granaries (horrea) themselves are of a type seen throughout the Roman empire: buttressed outer walls, elevated floors (raised above ground level on dwarf walls or short columns), and loading platforms at one (or even both) ends. The headquarters building (principia) and commanding officer’s house (praetorium) have not been fully excavated and are visible only as (in the words of one former chairman of English Heritage) humps and bumps in the ground. Having admired the granaries, we may now pass through one of the pair of modern gates and turn right, heading for the south gateway.

South gate at Birdoswald

South gate at Birdoswald

Both portals of the southern gateway are open, although when originally excavated in 1851 the eastern was found to be blocked and converted into a room. Examination of the portals shows that the pairs of door leaves originally opened inwards and were stopped against a threshold over which wheeled traffic had to bump, a bit like ‘sleeping policemen’, the wheels often wearing ruts in the raised part of the threshold. Roman gates were also not hinged, but rather pivoted, which made them much stronger: whilst a hinge would have had to be nailed to a wooden gate leaf, pivots were integral to its fabric. These pivots were then inserted into socket stones, one at the top and one at the bottom, the lower of the two usually having a channel to enable the pivot to be slid into place. The pivot was fixed by means of an iron ring placed around it which was then cemented to the pivot stone by means of molten lead. We shall see such pivot stones several times on our journey (look on either side of the portals now), but when we get to Benwell we will actually see one of these iron rings still in situ.

Passing out of the southern gateway we now find ourselves standing on a promontory above the gorge of the River Irthing. When excavated, a Roman encampment was found, complete with preserved fragments of wood and leather (it was one of the first sites where pieces of Roman tent leather were identified), and it has been suggested that it may have belonged to troops building the Turf Wall.The Vallum swerved around the south end of the fort and a causeway with a gate was discovered during the excavations: there is nothing to see now but, as just hinted, we will be inspecting an example at Benwell, later in our journey.

Returning to the fort defences, we take the path to the right and pass around the south-east corner of the fort (rounded, as they all are on the Wall). As we head north along the eastern wall, ahead of us is a section of tumbled curtain wall, frozen in the act of tumbling outwards. Excavation showed that this was in fact a reconstruction of a previously fallen length; the botched reconstruction of failed structures is another recurring theme on Hadrian’s Wall. Beyond the tumbled length of wall, take a close look at the upstanding section to the north of it, particularly the coursing of the stones. It is clear how the construction of the wall was split into stints, a feature that is known from other Roman sites such as the ‘Saxon Shore’ forts at Pevensey and Richborough, and it is likely that each stint was the responsibility of one work gang.

East gate at Birdoswald

East gate at Birdoswald

Moving on to the east gate, we can see that the northernmost jamb survives to the height of the springer for its arch. Again, excavation in 1852 revealed that the north portal was blocked. So why build all those twin-portalled gates only to block one gate on each? We don’t know, but it may be that use showed that only one was needed or desirable.

Time to head back to the exit and be on our way once more. Shopportunities await the acquisitional in the English Heritage retail outlet on the way out, but remember: what you buy you are going to have to carry.

To avoid the road, the Trail briefly weaves through a small plantation and, as it passes over the eastern fort defences, we may look down to our right and see a circular post-medieval corn-drying kiln set into the Roman wall. Before passing through the kissing gate, we can walk a little way down the path towards the car park and admire the length of Wall that is exposed on our right, weirdly sculpted right back into its core by the combination of its former role as a field boundary and the action of some large tree roots that had to be removed when it was consolidated in the 1950s. As you look eastwards, the ditch is clearly visible in front of the wall. We may now return to that kissing gate and head along the south side of this same curtain wall.

The curtain wall east of Birdoswald

The curtain wall east of Birdoswald

East of Birdoswald, this fine stretch of curtain wall continues as far as the edge of the Irthing gorge. When consolidated by the Ministry of Works masons, this section produced numerous building inscriptions, many of which are now in Tullie House Museum in Carlisle, although some have been left in situ. It also revealed two further phallic symbols on the south face; if the same density found in this Wall Mile were repeated for the whole of Hadrian’s Wall, there might originally have been around 350 along the Wall. The first phallic symbol occurs 10m east of the western end of the field wall parallel to the curtain wall, just before a culvert through the wall. The culvert is interesting, since it is additional to the normal ground-level drains that can be seen in this Wall Mile and whilst it may have been designed to cope with a spring which is no longer evident (which seems unlikely), it may have served to debouch a sewer from an as-yet-unidentified extramural building into the ditch to the north. A building inscription (RIB 3434) is preserved in the top surviving course at 35m from the end of that field wall and another (RIB 3427) is found at 110m. There are two more (RIB 3426 and 3425) at 130m and 140m respectively. Finally, the third of the Wall Mile 49 phallic symbols occurs at 193m.

Just before the wall reaches Milecastle 49, it changes alignment slightly and this is the point where the Turf and Stone Walls converge once more. The Turf Wall ran in a straight line from here towards the main east–west street (via principalis) of Birdoswald fort (it pre-dated the fort, as we have seen).

Milecastle 49 (Harrow’s Scar) [HB 291–3; haiku]

Milecastle 49

Milecastle 49

Much of the interior of Milecastle 49 (Harrow’s Scar) has been removed by the modern track which passes through it, but this is the first consolidated milecastle encountered when walking from west to east. It therefore provides our first real opportunity to get the measure of one of these fortlets, although it is not as informative as its neighbour, Milecastle 48, which we will reach soon. The main structure inside the milecastle is part of a medieval farmstead, recalling just how many milecastle sites came to serve as a farm. On the east side there is one wall of an original internal Roman building. The rounded south-west corner is well-preserved. Astute observers will note how the defensive walls of the milecastle butt against the curtain wall. This tells us that the curtain wall was built first, then the milecastle, an important detail to remember when we get to the next milecastle. The modern farm track does not use the Roman gateway, which is just to the west of it.

PLVad2