Wall Mile 9

Wall Mile 9 [HB 162–4]

A sign proclaims that we are entering Blucher Village, reflecting the name of the coal mine that once stood here, named after Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, the Prussian general who saved the day at the Battle of Waterloo.

The road descends very slightly past a terrace of houses to the left then starts to rise, opening out into fields again. We pass the village sign for Walbottle and soon come to a junction, which we need to cross carefully and carry straight on westwards along the southern pavement. We are rewarded with the sight of the road (and, by implication, the curtain wall under it) beginning to descend gently. We walk past a primary school built over the Vallum to our left, then begin to climb once again, always gently. This is a 3km straight stretch, still on the same alignment as that section lost under the interchange with the A69.

Recent study of the building stones from along here has suggested it was being rebuilt by the Sixth Legion as early as AD 158. Hadrian’s Wall began construction around AD 122 (some think it was already under way when Hadrian visited in that year), but was abandoned in AD 138, soon after completion, in favour of the new turf wall across the Forth–Clyde isthmus which we call the Antonine Wall. That, in turn, did not last long and evidently by 158 Hadrian’s Wall was being recommissioned. Was the work needed another hint of the shoddy building that we shall see dogged the original fabric of the Wall?

Past the school, the fields appear to the left again and, although nothing is obvious yet, the Vallum often shows up as a a differentiation in the vegetation here.

The Vallum as a crop mark west of Walbottle

The Vallum as a crop mark west of Walbottle

Heading uphill towards the site of Milecastle 10, the fields to the left often contain parch or crop marks defining the course of the Vallum

Although the curtain wall usually seems to have been beneath the southern (westbound) carriageway of the Military Road, at this point the 18th-century road-builders chose to swing slightly southwards and the road passes straight through the middle of Milecastle 10.

Milecastle 10 (Walbottle Dene) [HB 164; haiku]

The deviation in the course of the Military Road means the north gate of Milecastle 10 survived and was duly excavated in 1928. The southern wall was examined in 1999–2001, revealing the milecastle to be of the long axis type. Milecastles came in two basic flavours, either ‘short axis’ (broader east–west) or ‘long axis’ (longer north–south), with the odd square example thrown in for good measure. Wall scholars have decided that these features may have been characteristic of the different legions’ preferences. There is, as you might have guessed, nothing to see any more, other than to appreciate that the milecastle is perched on the eastern lip of Walbottle Dene.

BandC2ad

Advertisements

Hadrian’s Wall Inscriptions (Benwell to Rudchester)

Introduction


This section covers Wall Miles 6 to 13, nearly all of which (i.e. WM8–13) is now beneath the Military Road. Many are unprovenanced, usually having been rebuilt into another structure, but some were recovered from the Wall during the construction of the road in 1751. Unfortunately, the locations of these stones were not accurately recorded.

Inventory

RIB 1353: VIAT (‘…]VIAT[…’).  Found 1807 built into a house near MC7. Now lost.  Source: RIB I p.446

RIB 1354

RIB 1354

RIB 1354: c(enturia) Here/nniani (‘The century of Herennianus (built this)’). Centurial stone found before 1732 beside the road at Denton. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.446

RIB 1355: N (‘N’). Building stone found before 1789. Now lost. Source: RIB I p.446

RIB 1356: c(enturia) Iuli / Rufi (‘The century of Iulius Rufus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1804 near Denton Hall. Source: RIB I p.447

RIB 1357: c(enturia) Iuli / Rufi (‘The century of Iulius Rufus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1804 near Denton Hall. Source: RIB I p.447

RIB 1358

RIB 1358

RIB 1358: leg(ionis) II Aug(ustae) / coh(ors) I / fec(it) (‘Second Legion First Cohort built this’). Building stone found 1869 near Denton Hall. Source: RIB I p.447

RIB 1359: l(egionis) II Aug(ustae) / c(o)ho(rs) VIII / fec(it) (‘Second Legion Eighth Cohort made this’). Building stone found 1716 in East Denton. Source: RIB I p.447

RIB 1360

RIB 1360

RIB 1360: leg(ionis) / II Aug(ustae) co/h(ors) VIII (‘Second Legion Eighth Cohort (built this)’). Building stone found 1725 at Denton Wood House. Source: RIB I p.448

RIB 1361: c(enturia) Tu[lli] (‘The century of Tullius (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1936 on north mound of Vallum. Source: RIB I p.448

RIB 1362: c(enturia) Val(eri) Fl(avi) (‘Century of Valerius Flavus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1934 on north mound of Vallum. Source: RIB I p.448

RIB 1363: c(enturia) Val(eri) Fl(avi) (‘Century of Valerius Flavus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1934 on north mound of Vallum. Source: RIB I p.448

RIB 1364: c(enturia) Pro(culi) (‘Century of Proculus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1934 on north mound of Vallum. Source: RIB I p.448

RIB 1365: c(oh(ortis) I / Dacor(um) / c(enturia) Ael(i) Dida(e) (‘First Cohort of Dacians the century of Aelius Dida (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1936 on north mound of Vallum. Source: RIB I p.449

RIB 1366

RIB 1366

RIB 1366: Iov/i O(ptimo) M(aximo) / [… (‘For Jupiter Best and Greatest…’). Altar found 1822 on the Wall west of Denton Hall. Source: RIB I p.448

RIB 1367: c(enturia) Atisi (‘The century of Atisius (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1953. Source: RIB I p.448

RIB 1368: c(enturia) Avi/di Rufi (‘The century of Avidius Rufus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1904 in main road west of lane to Newburn. Source: RIB I p.448

RIB 1369: c(enturia)] / Iuli Pri[…] (‘century of Iulius Primus’). Centurial stone found before 1851 in West Denton. Source: RIB I p.449

RIB 1370: VIII (‘8’). Building stone found 1929 in Milecastle 9. Source: RIB I p.450

RIB 1371: VIIII (‘9’). Building stone found 1929 in Milecastle 9. Source: RIB I p.450

RIB 1372: X (’10’). Building stone found 1929 in Milecastle 9. Source: RIB I p.450

RIB 1373

RIB 1373

RIB 1373: c(enturia) p(rimi) p(ili) (‘century of the first centurion (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1794 in a stable in Walbottle. Source: RIB I p.450

RIB 1374

RIB 1374

RIB 1374: c(enturia) Iuli Pro/culi (‘century of Iulius Proculus (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1906 200 yds W of Engine Inn. Source: RIB I p.450

RIB 1375: coh(ortis) V[… / c(enturia) Iuli Iuv(enalis?) (‘The fifth(/sixth/seventh) cohort, the century of Iulius Iuvenalis’). Centurial stone found 1789 near Walbottle. Source: RIB I pp.450-1

RIB 1376

RIB 1376

RIB 1376: c(enturia) Pere/grini (‘century of Peregrinus’). Centurial stone found 1794 slightly east of Walbottle on south mound of Vallum. Source: RIB I p.451

RIB 1377: c(enturia) Muci. / .EN (‘the century of Mucius … (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1732 in a cow shed in Walbottle. Source: RIB I p.451

RIB 1378

RIB 1378

RIB 1378: F]elix… (‘Felix…’). Building stone found 1857 at Walbottle. Source: RIB I p.451

RIB 1379: a) I b) III c) V d) VII[ e) VIII f) IX (‘a) 1 b) 3 c) 5 d) 7(or 8/9) e) 8 f) 9’). Building stones found 1732 in field walls near Walbottle. Source: RIB I p.451

RIB 1380

RIB 1380

RIB 1380: c(enturia) Car[… (‘The century of Car[…’). Centurial stone found in 1864 at Milecastle 10. Source: RIB I p.451

RIB 1381: V (‘5’). Building stone found before 1732 in Throckley. Source: RIB I p.452

RIB 1382: X (’10’). Building stone found before 1732 in Throckley. Source: RIB I p.452

RIB 1383: C (‘C’ or ‘100’). Building stone found 1926 at Great Hill, near Heddon. Source: RIB I p.452

RIB 1384: R (‘R’). Building stone found 1926 at Great Hill, near Heddon. Source: RIB I p.452

RIB 1385: leg(ionis) XX / V(aleriae) V(ictricis) / coh(ors) IV (‘Twentieth Legion Valeria Victrix (built this)’). Building stone found 1807 in the vicarage at Heddon and now lost. Source: RIB I p.452

RIB 1386: c(enturia) Iul(i) / Ruf(i) (‘The century of Iulius Rufus’). Centurial stone found 1807 in the vicarage at Heddon and now lost. This centurion is also recorded in RIB 1356 & 1357. Source: RIB I p.452

RIB 1387: c(enturia) Fl(avi) As/[… (‘The century of Flavius As[…’). Centurial stone found in church at Heddon-on-the-Wall. Source: RIB I p.453

RIB 1388: leg(ionis) VI [V]i/ct(ricis) P(iae) F(idelis) re[f]/ecit coh(ors) X (‘From the Sixth Legion Victrix Pia Fidelis the tenth cohort rebuilt this’). Building stone found (probably near Heddon-on-the-Wall) during construction of the Military Road in 1751. Now missing. Source: RIB I p.453

RIB 1389: leg(io) VI V(ictrix) P(ia) / F(idelis) ref(ecit) Te/r(tullo) et Sac(erdote) co(n)s(ulibus) / S(…) F(…) (‘The Sixth Legion Victrix Pia Fidelis rebuilt this in the consulship of Tertullus and Sacerdos. S(…) F(…)’). Building stone found (probably near Heddon-on-the-Wall) during construction of the Military Road in 1751. Now missing. The consular date is AD 158. Source: RIB I p.453

RIB 1390: leg(ionis) XX V(aleriae) V(ictricis) / coh(ors) VIII (‘Twentieth Legion Valeria Victrix, eighth cohort’). Building stone found (probably near Heddon-on-the-Wall) during construction of the Military Road in 1751. Now missing. Source: RIB I p.453

RIB 1391: leg(ionis) XX V(aleriae) V(ictricis) / coh(ortis) X [c(enturia)] prin(cipis prioris) (‘From the Twentieth Legion Valeria Victrix, tenth cohort, the century of the princeps prior (built this)’). Centurial stone found 1751 during construction of the Military Road, probably near Heddon. Source: RIB I p.453

RIB 1392: coh(ors) pr/ima DC . L (‘First cohort…’]. Building stone found 1751 during construction of the Military Road, probably near Heddon. Source: RIB I p.454

RIB 1393: XIII (’13’). Building stone found before 1952 at Heddon. Source: RIB I p.454

RIB 1394: Cl(audius) · P[… (‘Claudius…’). Found 1932 at Heddon North Lodge. Source: RIB I p.454

RIB 3286: I (‘1’). Building stone found 1930 in Newburn. Source: RIB III p.287

RIB 3287: II (‘2’). Building stone found 1930 in Newburn. Source: RIB III p.287

RIB 3288: + (‘+’). Building stone found 1930 in Newburn. Source: RIB III p.287

Analysis

There is much that can be made from this disparate bunch of mural chisellings. The bulk of the inscriptions from this section fall into the categories of centurial or building stones, with some quarry marks thrown in for good measure. Amongst the centurial stones, there is also an apparent division between legionary centurions (building the curtain wall itself) and auxiliary centurions working on the Vallum.

The Wall sector between Milecastle 6 (just before Benwell) and around Turret 11b (just before Heddon) has traditionally been assigned to legio II Augusta (Birley 1961, 257), with legio XX Valeria Victrix building Turret 11b to around Milecastle 17, based upon the evidence of the building stones. If correct, this would suggest that Iulius Rufus (RIB 1356-7, 1386), Avidius Rufus (RIB 1368), Iulius Primus (RIB 1369), Iulius Proculus (RIB 1374), and Iulius Iuvenalis (RIB 1375) were all centurions of II Augusta, evidently belonging to cohortes I, VIII, and V[… (the primus pilus mentioned in RIB 1373 was the centurion commanding cohors I in a legion; cf RIB 1358). Two inscriptions referring to reconstruction work by legio VI Victrix (one dated to AD 158) presumably relate to their repairing original shoddy construction work (by legio XX?!) after the retreat from the Antonine Wall.

A group of centurial inscriptions from the Vallum (RIB 1361-5, 1376) indicate construction work there by auxiliaries, specifically from cohors I Aelia Dacorum (RIB 1365). This puts the lie to the old chestnut about construction work always being undertaken by legionaries (partly inspired by the images on Trajan’s Column) and this appears to be confirmed by part of Hadrian’s address to troops at Lambaesis (in modern Algeria), where he mentions troops of a mixed cohort building walls and digging ditches. It also presumably meant the legions could carry on constructing the curtain wall and its associated structures whilst the auxiliaries worked on the Vallum.

Some centurions’ names occur more than once. Iulius Rufus (RIB 1356-7, 1386) is found at both Denton and near Heddon (if the same centurion, it indicates leapfrogging by work gangs of the same legion). Avidius Rufus is encountered again to the west of Carrawburgh fort (RIB 1567 and possibly 1564-5).

Finally, the altar (RIB 1366) may originally have come from Milecastle 8 (since, outwith forts and their civil settlements, altars on the Wall usually only occur at milecastles).

References

Birley, E. (1961), Research on Hadrian’s Wall, Kendal

The Milecastle Haiku (Week 2)

Milecastle 7

Benwell Bank, not found;
A good friend rests near to this
Summer-dusty road.

Milecastle 8

Nearer Shearer than
Rome, West Denton roars at you,
Frozen by a stream.

Milecastle 9

Chapel House – park
Bench near waving ripe wheat;
A fort, once for sale.

Milecastle 10

A garden gate is
Forever open. June breeze
At Walbottle Dene.

Milecastle 11

Another low crest
And Throckley Bank Top surveys
Its neighbours through mist.

Milecastle 12

Reunited with
The trail, Heddon hails the start
Of the real journey.

Milecastle 13

Rudchester Burn with
An avenue flecked with May.
The loud road growls past.

The PLV eboojs

Wall Mile 9

Wall Mile 9 [HB 162–4]

Now that we are on the south side of the road, we can look across the wall at the fields. Nothing much to see, but the Vallum is there. In fact, if you look eastwards towards the terraces of houses in Walbottle, you can usually see a differentiation in the vegetation which marks its course (it is very clear from the air, as Google Earth or Maps confirm). The ditch has largely disappeared to the north of the road: this is indeed hostile territory in which to be a mural frontier, but it gets worse. Even so, as we shall see, the Wall nearly always wins through.

We descend to Walbottle, passing a primary school built over the Vallum, then begin to climb once again, always gently, but the terrain is still key to the line of the Wall. We are now on a 3km straight stretch, the last part of which is lost in a huge interchange when finally we reach the A69. Past the school, in the field on the left, the hints of the Vallum are more substantial, but the curtain wall lurks beneath the road, still, and the ditch is lost to us.

The line of the Vallum at ground level

The line of the Vallum at ground level

We cross over at a junction, the northern arm of which is a dead-end, cut off by the A69 (although the Google Street View car rather gamely goes down it anyway), the line of the Military Road still reflecting that of the curtain wall, with the Vallum to our right and the ditch to our left; the last shows up as lusher grass just beyond the roadside wall, reminding us it is still there.

A sign soon proclaims that we are entering Blucher Village, reflecting the name of the coal mine that once stood here, named after Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, the Prussian general who saved the day at the Battle of Waterloo. At the far end of the terrace of houses, as fields open out to the south of us again, we reach the site of Milecastle 9, shyly loitering behind a park bench and a flowerbed.

Milecastle 9 (Chapel House) [HB 162–4; haiku]

Blucher and the site of Milecastle 9 from the air

Blucher and the site of Milecastle 9 from the air

Milecastle 9 (Chapel House) is a special milecastle. ‘Why is that?’ you may justifiably ask. Well, this is the one Eric Birley was digging when Chesterholm (Vindolanda) was put up for auction and he decided to buy it. This long-axis milecastle was excavated in 1929, 1951, and 2000, when details of an internal building were noted, whilst outside the south wall, three skeletons (one of them headless) were found. They were thought to be Roman or post-Roman, but it is interesting to note that there was a curious trend in headless burials from the late 3rd century AD onwards which has caused much speculation amongst scholars (executions and barbarian beheadings being invoked). Some of the stones of the milecastle itself were marked with Roman numerals and it is thought this may relate to the way in which they were quarried.

roadsad