Wall Mile 55

Wall Mile 55 [HB 328]

We follow the hedge line and fence which mark the line of the wall until we reach the western end of the field. The wall ploughs straight on, but we must now turn left down the (alarmingly busy) lane. For several years now, there has been a diversion in place that forces the murophiliac to stick to the road and risk the traffic to get down to Dovecote Bridge. Descending into the valley, the road bends round to the right and, crossing the bridge, we rejoin the original line of the Trail.

The no-longer-exposed length of curtain wall

The no-longer-exposed length of curtain wall

Immediately after crossing the bridge, we may look through the gate to our right and see an English Heritage sign for a section of consolidated curtain wall that was formerly visible here during the summer months (being covered with straw and buried during the winter). Unfortunately, despite these precautions, the soft red sandstone weathered badly and the section had to be permanently buried. It would have been the westernmost portion of consolidated curtain wall, but now it is not. It is a reminder that exposure and consolidation is just the beginning of a long battle with the elements for the remains of Hadrian’s Wall.

The ditch east of Walton

The ditch east of Walton

Reflecting upon this sobering message, we march on uphill to Walton, the ditch being clearly visible to our right. We pass through the village until we reach the road junction where, to our left, is the building that used to be the Centurion Inn.

Milecastle 56 (Walton) [HB 328; haiku]

The possible site of Milecastle 56

The possible site of Milecastle 56

Milecastle 56 is assumed to lie beneath the now-defunct pub (which boasts an amusing cod-Latin date on its western gable end) but no trace has ever been found.

This used to be a good place for some map wrestling (the English Heritage Archaeological Map of Hadrian’s Wall is less sagely designed than its Ordnance Survey predecessor, being large and printed on two sides of the sheet, so always requires refolding near this point). Now, deprived of the pub, the gasping walker may find sustenance if they turn right into the village and visit the tearoom in the village hall, beyond the play area.

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The Milecastle Haiku (Week 8)

Milecastle 49

Re-housed Harrow’s Scar.
Precarious ruin high
Above golden gorge.

Milecastle 50

Cold stone twinned with turf,
Two milecastles for the price
of just one: High House.

Milecastle 51

Turf wall and stone wall
Re-unite at Wall Bowers.
Earthworks glimpsed through gate.

Milecastle 52

Continuity:
Bankshead farm still interrupts
The Wall even now.

Milecastle 53

Hare Hill looming near,
Banks Burn is concealed beneath
Successor dwelling.

Milecastle 54

Sheltered by an oak,
Randylands sees sandstone change,
Grey to red: bloodied.

Milecastle 55

Trees in full broad leaf,
Low Wall squats in a hedgerow,
Knowing the damp ground.

The PLV eboojs

Wall Mile 55

Wall Mile 55 [HB 328]

The Wall leaves the eastern end of Walton and heads downhill, the ditch being clearly visible from the lane along which the National Trail passes (as does more than a little traffic, it should be noted, so care is advisable).

Ditch in the field

Ditch in the field

Before crossing Dovecote Bridge, we may look through the gate to our left and see an English Heritage sign for a section of consolidated curtain wall that was formerly visible here during the summer months (being covered with straw and buried during the winter). Unfortunately, despite these precautions, the soft red sandstone weathered badly and the section had to be permanently buried. It would have been the westernmost portion of consolidated curtain wall, but now it is not. We have to wait a while for that pleasure.

Reburied Wall

Reburied Wall

Crossing the bridge, the Trail originally followed the Wall across country, but for several years now there has been diversion in place that forces the murophiliac to stick to the road and risk the traffic for a while longer. Climbing from the valley, the road bends round to the left and, finally, a sign to the right directs us once more onto the course of the wall, still marked by hedgerows and fence lines. Following the Trail, before we get to the first stile, we pass the site of Milecastle 55.

Wall Mile 55 from the air

Wall Mile 55 from the air

Milecastle 55 (Low Wall) [HB 328; haiku]

The position of Milecastle 55 (Low Wall) was confirmed by excavation in 1900. An altar to Cocidius was found at Howgill in the 18th century, not far away, so may well have originated in the milecastle (as others have done).

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