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Hadrian's Wall and vallum between the Fence Burn and the track to Portgate Cottage in wall miles 21 and 22

A Scheduled Monument in Corbridge, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.0131 / 55°0'47"N

Longitude: -2.0267 / 2°1'36"W

OS Eastings: 398386.5052

OS Northings: 568722.5662

OS Grid: NY983687

Mapcode National: GBR GB9G.0R

Mapcode Global: WHB26.V828

Entry Name: Hadrian's Wall and vallum between the Fence Burn and the track to Portgate Cottage in wall miles 21 and 22

Scheduled Date: 12 December 1928

Last Amended: 5 March 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010625

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26047

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Corbridge

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: St Oswald-in-Lee with Bingfield

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the section of Hadrian's Wall between the Fence Burn in
the east and the west side of the track to Portgate Cottage in the west. This
section of the Wall occupies an east facing slope with limited views in all
The Wall survives as a buried feature below the B6318 road for most of this
section. The stretch of Wall 220m east to 320m west of the course of the A68,
where the B6318 swings north to a roundabout, lies below the 18th century
metalled road which is now disused. The wall ditch survives as a buried
feature for most of this section; however, towards the west end of the section
it survives as a visible earthwork. The maximum height of its south scarp is
4m and the maximum height of its north scarp is 2m. There are slight traces of
the upcast mound, known as the `glacis', to the north of the ditch.
Milecastle 22 is located about 220m east of the junction of the B6318 and the
A68 on an east facing slope. It survives as a square turf covered platform,
0.5m high on its east side. The milecastle was partly excavated in 1930, when
its internal width was shown to be about 17.5m, while the walls were 2.45m
thick. The north gateway had been blocked early on, probably because the
gateway carrying Dere Street Roman road through the line of the Wall was near
enough to serve all purposes for which a milecastle gateway could be used.
Turret 21b occupies a prominent point 230m west of the Roman fort at
Haltonchesters. There are no visible remains above ground, but it is expected
to survive as a buried feature.
Turret 22a is situated about 200m west of the Port Gate roundabout on an east
facing slope. It was located and partly excavated in 1930. There are no
upstanding remains.
The course of the Roman road known as the Military Way, which ran along the
corridor between the Wall and the vallum linking the turrets, milecastles and
forts, survives intermittently throughout this section. East of milecastle 22
there is a 170m stretch of the road which survives as an upstanding ridge, in
a field which also has extensive ridge and furrow earthworks. The road here
survives to a maximum height of 0.3m. Further west its remains were traced as
parchmarks in the soil during dry conditions. Elsewhere in this section its
course has not yet been confirmed.
The vallum survives intermittently as an upstanding earthwork throughout this
section. Where it is best preserved, between the Fence Burn and the A68, the
ditch reaches a maximum depth of 0.9m, the north mound a height of 0.7m and
the south mound a height of 0.3m. Elsewhere the mounds have been damaged and
spread by ridge and furrow cultivation and the ditch has silted up to varying
The Roman road known as Dere Street which ran from York into Scotland crossed
the line of the Wall in this section. The course of the A68 road follows that
of Dere Street along this part of its course. Immediately south of the vallum,
for 150m, there is an overgrown mound beside the west verge of the A68,
representing part of the Roman road which was not built directly over.
An excavation in 1966 revealed that where Dere Street crossed the Wall, a
gatehouse, formed of massive masonry blocks which projected northwards from
the Wall by 3.6m had been constructed. The site of the gateway lies within the
protected area.
The Errington Arms and the buildings and forecourt of the petrol station at
Port Gate are totally excluded from the scheduling. All road surfaces, field
boundaries, street furniture, telegraph and electricity poles 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.
It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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 Fence Burn and the
track to Portgate Cottage survive as a series of buried and upstanding
remains. Significant information on the development of the frontier system
over time will be preserved. A rare feature located in this section is a major
gateway where Dere Street crosses the line of the Wall.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Bruce, J C, Handbook to the Roman wall, (1863), 89
Bruce, J C, Handbook to the Roman wall, (1863), 89-90
Bruce, J C, Handbook to the Roman wall, (1863), 102

Source: Historic England

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