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Hadrian's Wall and vallum between the B6309 and the B6321 in wall miles 16, 17 and 18

A Scheduled Monument in Horsley, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.0093 / 55°0'33"N

Longitude: -1.9211 / 1°55'16"W

OS Eastings: 405141.670821

OS Northings: 568308.65255

OS Grid: NZ051683

Mapcode National: GBR HB0J.W3

Mapcode Global: WHB28.GCD4

Entry Name: Hadrian's Wall and vallum between the B6309 and the B6321 in wall miles 16, 17 and 18

Scheduled Date: 12 December 1928

Last Amended: 14 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010622

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26043

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Horsley

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Ovingham

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the section of Hadrian's Wall, vallum and associated
features between the B6309 in the east and the B6321 in the west. The ground
slopes gently upwards towards the west throughout this section of the
monument. There are wide views to the north, east and south. However, the
rising ground to the west restricts the outlook in this direction.
Hadrian's Wall survives as buried remains below the road surface of the B6318
road thoughout the length of this section. The wall ditch survives as an
earthwork to the north of the road for most of the length of this section. It
averages about 1.4m deep throughout, though it reaches a maximum of 3m in
Milecastle 17 is positioned on sloping ground to the west of the Northern
Reservoir. It survives as a low platform with a scarp to the east and a slight
stone scatter. It was partly excavated in 1931 and its walls were shown to be
about 2.5m thick.
Milecastle 18 occupies a position on a gentle west facing slope on the south
side of the B6318 road at East Wallhouses. There are no visible remains above
ground; however, its site is known as it was partly excavated in 1931 when
its walls were found to be almost 2.5m thick.
Turret 17a survives as a buried feature located 310m to the east of the track
which runs south to Welton from the B6318 road, on a ridge of level ground. It
was excavated in 1931 and was shown to have a door in the south west corner
and a ladder platform in the south east corner.
Turret 17b is located 320m east of the Robin Hood Inn, surviving as a buried
feature beneath the B6318 road. The ground slopes upwards to the west while to
the east the ground is fairly level. This turret was also partly excavated in
1931 and like turret 17a it was shown to have a door in the south west corner
and a ladder platform in the south east corner.
Turret 18a is located at the junction of the minor road to West Moorhouses off
the B6318 on an east facing slope. There are no visible remains apart from a
rise in the hedgeline. Part excavation in 1931 showed that the surviving
buried remains are very well preserved. Its ladder platform stood to its full
height with six stone steps.
Turret 18b is located 50m to the east of Welton Burn on an east facing slope.
There are no visible remains. It was partly excavated in 1959 when animal
bones and pottery were found.
The course of the Roman road, known as the Military Way, linking turrets,
milecastles and forts, which ran along the corridor between the Wall and the
vallum, is not yet confirmed in this section. It is known to exist here as
Horsley noted in the 1730s that it ran along the north mound of the vallum for
a short distance where the Wall and vallum are very close and then, `A little
after it has passed by the Wall houses, it runs almost parallel both to the
Wall and the north agger'. Its remains now survive as buried features.
The vallum continues on the same straight alignment as its neighbouring
sections throughout its course. It is visible as an upstanding earthwork
except for the first kilometre west of the Northern Reservoir where it has
been reduced by cultivation and its ditches silted up. The north mound
averages about 0.25m in height whereas the south mound averages about 0.6m
high. The vallum ditch averages about 0.8m in depth, though it reaches a depth
of 1.4m in places.
The buildings and intervening areas at South Wall Houses are totally excluded
from the scheduling. The surface of the roads, all field boundaries,
overhead electricity supply poles, telegraph poles and road signs are
excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath all these features is

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Hadrian's Wall marks one of the frontiers of the Roman Empire. The
international importance of the surviving remains has been recognised through
designation as a World Heritage Site.
The military importance of the Tyne-Solway route across the Pennines was
recognised by the Romans during their early campaigns through northern England
and into Scotland in the second half of the first century AD. At this time a
military road, the Stanegate, was constructed along with a series of forts.
Subsequently the Romans largely withdrew from Scotland and there is evidence
that the Tyne-Solway route was being recognised as a frontier by the start of
the second century AD. This position was consolidated in the early second
century by the construction of a substantial frontier work, Hadrian's Wall,
under the orders of the Emperor Hadrian. Hadrian's successor, Antoninus Pius,
subsequently attempted to establish the boundary further north, between the
Clyde and the Firth of Forth, but by c.AD 160 growing unrest amongst the
native populations of northern Britain and pressures elsewhere in the Empire
caused a retraction back to the Hadrianic line. Hadrian's Wall was then the
frontier of the Roman Empire in Britain until c.AD 400 when the Roman armies
withdrew from Britain.
Stretching over 70 miles from coast to coast, Hadrian's Wall was a continuous
barrier built of stone in the east and, initially, of turf in the west. The
stone wall was originally designed to be ten Roman feet wide and sections of
this width are termed broad wall. A change of plan shortly after construction
began led to a reduction in the width of the Wall to eight Roman feet, such
sections being termed narrow wall. Today, stretches of both wall types
survive, including some sections of narrow wall built on broad wall
foundations. For most of its length a substantial ditch on the northern side
provided additional defence. Where the Wall crossed rivers, bridges were
constructed to carry it across. Construction of the Wall was organised and
executed by legionary soldiers. From the beginning the barrier was planned to
comprise more than just a curtain wall. At regularly spaced intervals of about
a mile along its length lay small walled fortlets known as milecastles. These
were attached to the southern side of the Wall and most had a gateway through
the Wall to the north. Hence they controlled crossing points through the Wall
as well as affording space for a small stable garrison. Between the
milecastles were two equally spaced towers known as turrets. Together the
milecastles and turrets provided bases from which the curtain wall could be
watched and patrolled. Both the turrets and milecastles are thought to have
been higher than the Wall itself to provide suitable observation points. It is
often assumed that a platform existed on the Wall so that troops could
actually patrol along the wall top; it is however far from certain that this
was the case.
At the western end of the Wall a system of towers, small fortlets and palisade
fences extended the frontier system another 30 miles or so down the Cumbrian
coast and helped control shipping moving across the estuary of the Solway
As originally planned, and apart from whatever space there was in the
milecastles, provision for the accommodation of garrison troops manning the
Wall was left with the line of forts which already lay along the Stanegate. At
some point a fundamental change of plan took place and forts were constructed
along the line of the Wall itself. There are now known to have been 16 forts
either attached to the Wall or in close association with it. Some overlay
earlier features such as turrets or milecastles. At this stage another linear
element, the vallum, was also added to the defensive system to the south of
the Wall. This was a broad flat-bottomed ditch flanked by a pair of linear
banks. It shadows the course of the Wall for almost all its length, sometimes
lying very close to it but sometimes up to a kilometre away from it. The
vallum's main function was to act as a barrier to restrict access to the Wall
from the south. It also had a function in linking the forts along the Wall
with a method of lateral communication. When the forts were placed along the
wall line no provision was made for a road to link them. This situation was
clearly found impracticable and a metalled track was therefore provided in
places along the vallum between the north mound and the ditch.
Later, after the withdrawal back to the Hadrianic line from the Antonine Wall,
various refurbishments were made throughout the frontier line. At this stage a
new linear feature was added: the `Military Way'. This was a road linking all
elements of the Wall defence, running from fort to fort within the area
bounded by the Wall and the vallum.
Throughout its long history the Wall was not always well maintained. It was
often neglected and sometimes overrun, but it remained in use until the late
fourth century when a weak and divided Roman Empire finally withdrew its
armies from the Wall and Britain.
It now survives in various states of preservation. In places, especially in
the central section, the Stone Wall still remains several courses high and the
attached forts, turrets and milecastles are also clearly indentifiable.
Earthwork features such as the ditch, vallum and Military Way also survive
well in places. Elsewhere the Stone Wall has been virtually robbed out and
only its foundations survive beneath the present ground surface. Similarly,
stretches of the earthwork remains, including sections of the Turf Wall, have
been levelled or infilled and now only survive as buried features. Although
some sections of the frontier system no longer survive visibly, sufficient
evidence does exist for its position to be fairly accurately identified
throughout most of its length.

Hadrian's Wall and its associated features between the B6309 and the B6321
survive as a series of buried and upstanding remains. Significant information
on the function of the remains and the development of the frontier system over
time will be preserved.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Birley, , Brewis, , Simpson, , 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Excavations on Hadrian' Wall between Heddon on the Wall and....., , Vol. 4 ser, 9, (1932), 257-8
Birley, , Brewis, , Simpson, , 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Excavations on Hadrian' Wall between Heddon on the Wall and....., , Vol. 4 ser, 9, (1932), 257-8
Birley, , Brewis, , Simpson, , 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Excavations on Hadrian' Wall between Heddon on the Wall and....., , Vol. 4 ser, 9, (1932), 258
Birley, , Brewis, , Simpson, , 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Excavations on Hadrian' Wall between Heddon on the Wall and....., , Vol. 4 ser, 9, (1932), 257

Source: Historic England

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