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 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

Wall Mile 77

Wall Mile 77 [HB 363]

The National Trail now takes us onto the Vallum, turning left down the lane opposite the Highland Laddie Inn, keeping the village green to our left. We leave Glasson and head westwards down this track, finally reaching a sign for the Cottage & Glendale Holiday Park after the best part of a Roman mile. The line of the Wall itself is way off to our right and largely inaccessible.

Track on the line of the Vallum

Track on the line of the Vallum

At the Holiday Park, we turn right and follow the access lane down to the main road, noting the position of Milecastle 78 in the field to our left. Finally, we cross the road carefully and pass through the kissing gate and onto the line of the abandoned railway.

Milecastle 78 (Kirkland) [HB 363; haiku]

Site of Milecastle 78

Site of Milecastle 78

MC78 was first noted by Horsley and excavated in 1934 and 2000, when it was found to be a long-axis variant. There is nothing to see, certainly not from our vantage point, but you have the satisfaction of knowing it is there, which is more than can be said for some milecastles.

Wall Mile 74

Wall Mile 74 [HB 358]

As with Wall Mile 73, nothing is known about Wall Mile 74. We may note the settlement of Boustead Hill, off to our left beyond the abandoned railway line. This is perched on a drumlinoid, a glacial feature in the form of a low mound amidst the mosses and marshes along this stretch of the estuarine coast. As we shall see, the Romans made good use of drumlinoids further on. In the absence of anything else of interest, now might be a good time to consider that railway line and its unusual predecessor.

Burgh Marsh near the possible site of Milecastle 74

Burgh Marsh near the possible site of Milecastle 74

To our left, behind the levee (designed to stop the farmland behind flooding with seawater) lies the route of the former Carlisle Canal, which was opened in 1823 and then closed only 30 years later. Designed to give Carlisle a link to the sea and, therefore, coastal trade, it was soon rendered superfluous by the arrival of the railways. Indeed, the canal was filled in and the Port Carlisle Railway replaced it in 1854. This stretch was shut in 1964, whilst that from Drumburgh to Port Carlisle closed even earlier, in 1932. From the air, the canal-cum-railway is the most prominent linear feature around here now (and is in fact occasionally mistaken for the Vallum).

Milecastle 75 (Easton) [HB 358; haiku]

Burgh Marsh looking towards the possible site of Milecastle 75

Burgh Marsh looking towards the possible site of Milecastle 75

Not found; see Wall Mile 74.

Wall Mile 69

Wall Mile 69 [HB 348]

Next to the possible site of Milecastle 69, and before we cross Sourmilk Bridge, the path mirrors the Wall in making a 50° change in course from slightly north westerly to south-westerly.

A rather interesting inscription comes from nearby, recording successful military action under the magnificently named legate of legio VI Victrix, L. Iunius Victorinus Flavius Caelianus. It probably dates to the latter part of the 2nd century AD, after the return from the Antonine Wall, and – as we have already discussed – significantly includes the phrase ‘trans Vallum’ – ‘across the Wall’.

The scarp with the wall near Kirkandrews

The scarp with the wall near Kirkandrews

We are led along the line of the Wall, trying to ignore an architectural eyesore off to our left (how did that get planning permission in a World Heritage Site?). The curtain wall finally quits the riverside (but keeps to the high ground) at the northern end of Kirkandrews village, its line being reflected in property boundaries through the village. The Trail leaves it and drops down to the floodplain, at the base of the scarp, and then after a while climbs back up again, rejoining the line of the curtain wall near the western end of the village. The river sweeps back round and, once again, the wall resumes its sole guard of the frontier, for the ditch is discontinued yet again. In this manner, we arrive at the likely site of Milecastle 70.

Milecastle 70 (Braelees) [HB 348; haiku]

Looking towards the site of Milecastle 70

Looking towards the site of Milecastle 70

The position of Milecastle 70 is perched on the edge of the cliff above the Eden and, since it has never been examined (or even found), it is not known whether the builders bothered with a north gate for it.

Wall Mile 68

Wall Mile 68 [HB 347–8]

Crossing Boomby Gill, the Wall is still marked by the by-now familiar hedgerow as it follows the riverside to utilise the cliff on an almost northerly course. As we gradually descend onto the floodplain of the river, the ditch returns and we approach the village of Grinsdale. Arriving at the road we turn right and, some 85m further on, look for the sign on the left that takes us back onto the Trail.

The line of the wall as a hedge west of Grinsdale

The line of the wall as a hedge west of Grinsdale

Following the farm track on a north-easterly heading from the village, we note the hedge to our left which is on the line of the curtain wall, and reach the likely site of Milecastle 69 near the crest.

Milecastle 69 (Sourmilk Bridge) [HB 348; haiku]

One possible site of Milecastle 69

One possible site of Milecastle 69

The site of Milecastle 69 has not been located as yet, despite geophysical surveys in two possible locations (one in 1998 next to the bridge and the other in 2000 at the top of the next rise). A trial trench in 2000 also failed to find it.

Wall Mile 67

Wall Mile 67 [HB 347]

We follow the tree-lined path for a while, but after about 250m we burst into the open. We are actually perched on a cliff above the River Eden and it presented enough of an obstacle for the Romans to have abandoned the ditch in front of the curtain wall once more. In front and to our left, the Vallum becomes apparent running under some electricity pylons.

The Vallum in Wall Mile 67

The Vallum in Wall Mile 67

Now might be an opportune moment to raise the subject of what the Romans called Hadrian’s Wall, if only in order to confront the inevitable confusion that arises over that term Vallum. In the biographies of Hadrian and Severus in the Historia Augusta, the curtain wall is called a murus and that is what Bede calls it (distinguishing it from the earthwork he – and modern scholars – terms the Vallum). However, elsewhere in the biography of Severus, it seems to be mentioned again in connection with a curious incident involving North African troops with the phrase ‘apud vallum’ or ‘near the Wall’. The Notitia Dignitatum supplies a list of units and their commanding officers ‘per lineam valli’, or ‘along the line of the Wall’. An inscription from Kirksteads, south-east of Burgh-by-Sands, uses the phrase ‘trans vallum’. The Latin word vallum can mean wall or rampart (Latin can be annoyingly vague at times) but it may be significant that one of a range of what appear to be souvenir copper-alloy pans, the so-called Staffordshire Moorlands Pan, includes before its list of forts the phrase ‘rigore Vali Aeli Draconis’. This could mean ‘along the Wall, (belonging to) Aelius Draco’ or ‘along the Aelian Wall, (belonging to) Draco’. The second interpretation is rather interesting, since Hadrian’s full name was Publius Aelius Hadrianus, in which case the Roman equivalent of our Hadrian’s Wall would have been Val(l)um Aelium (or the Aelian Wall). This is strangely reminiscent of the Roman name for Newcastle and its bridge, Pons Aelii, the Aelian Bridge.

Enough of this mural contemplation; it is time to move on. We cross Knockupworth Gill (another cleft with a stream running into the river) and are then confronted with a brand new road, the A689, which soars across the river, punches through the Wall, and heads off boldly south-westwards. Every time a piece of infrastructure removes a piece of the Wall a calculation has to be made; the thing is a finite resource, after all, and a lost section can never be recovered. However, our knowledge of this particular sector of the Wall was very limited and this offered an opportunity to learn more in a modern excavation. So, in exchange for the loss of a few metres, we gained an understanding of the stone wall, the Turf Wall preceding it, and (best of all, arguably), the land divisions that pre-dated that. Heritage is seldom as cut-and-dried as some might think.

The A689 penetrating the Wall

The A689 penetrating the Wall

Beyond the new road, which is crossed by means of an underpass, we come to Boomby Gill, the likely site of Milecastle 68.

Milecastle 68 (Boomby Gill) [HB 347; haiku]

This milecastle probably lay on one side or the other of this gill, although it too has not yet been identified.