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Latitude: 54.9886 / 54°59'18"N
Longitude: -2.4579 / 2°27'28"W
OS Eastings: 370797.976506
OS Northings: 566092.808627
OS Grid: NY707660
Mapcode National: GBR CB8R.NJ
Mapcode Global: WH90W.6WV2
Entry Name: Markham Cottage Roman temporary camps 1 and 2, a section of the Stanegate Roman road, a length of Roman road and two Roman cemeteries
Scheduled Date: 12 December 1928
Last Amended: 14 July 1997
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1010933
English Heritage Legacy ID: 26019
Civil Parish: Haltwhistle
Traditional County: Northumberland
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland
Church of England Parish: Haltwhistle Holy Cross
Church of England Diocese: Newcastle
The monument includes the Markham Cottage Roman temporary camps 1 and 2, two
Roman cemeteries, a stretch of the Stanegate Roman road and a stretch of the
Roman road which connects the fort at Great Chesters with the Stanegate. The
camps, the eastern section of the Stanegate and part of the cemetery to the
south survive as upstanding earthworks and associated buried features. The
western end of the Stanegate, the cemetery to the north, parts of the cemetery
to the south and the camp ditches survive as buried features.
There are two camps at Markham Cottage: the larger and earlier Camp 1 contains
the smaller Camp 2 within its north margin. The vallum lies 110m to the north
and the fort at Great Chesters is 520m to the NNW.
Camp 1 is situated astride a low east to west ridge between the gorge of the
Haltwhistle Burn to the south and a shallow valley to the north. This
rectangular camp is the largest in the vicinity, measuring 460m from north to
south by 365m east to west and enclosing an area of 16.8ha. The defences
include an earthen rampart and external ditch. They are best preserved towards
the north end of the east side where the bank stands 0.3m high internally and
the ditch is 0.3m deep. The only gateway that can now be identified is at the
centre of the south side where a slight causeway is visible across the heavily
silted ditch. The north west corner of the camp was later occupied by Wall
Mill. The ancillary structures of this watermill including two leats, the mill
pond, the footings of a building and an adjacent walled enclosure, probably
the miller's house and garden, are still visible.
Camp 2 is better preserved than Camp 1, occupying a gentle north-facing slope;
its south side lying on a false crest. Its north defences appear to have been
built by reconstructing or reusing those of the larger Camp 1. At its north
east corner the ditch of Camp 2 cuts through the rampart of Camp 1 and
therefore the smaller camp is undoubtedly later in date. This camp measures
130m north to south by 106m east to west, enclosing an area of 1.4ha within a
rampart up to 0.3m high internally and an external ditch now 0.3m deep. There
is a gateway on the mid-point of the north side 7m wide, and an opposing
gateway on the south side 8m wide. There are the remains of an external
defence bank outside the south gateway surviving to a height of 0.3m with a
ditch 0.2m deep. Fragmentary ridge and furrow within the camp has impinged
upon parts of the south and east ramparts. The north defences are cut by
recent drains and partly overlain by a field wall.
The remains of two Roman cemeteries are located on the west margin of the
To the north is the area occupied by the Wall Mill cemetery. Burial mounds no
longer survive as upstanding earthworks but the cemetery is known to occupy
the area from the old water mill west along the north scarp of the tributary
and probably along the line of the Roman road to the fort at Great Chesters.
An incomplete female statue and inscribed statue base were found in 1801 when
the miller was clearing out one of the leats. Two tombstones and an urn were
also known to have been found on the site and Hodgson records that dressed
masonry and many foundations were discovered along the low ridge to the north
of the tributary.
The Four Laws cemetery is situated west of Camp 1, along a stretch of plateau
lying along the north side of the Stanegate. This vast cemetery includes the
remains of at least 15 upstanding burial mounds. However, many more are known
from early Ordnance Survey maps and aerial photographs from the 1930s. The
extant mounds vary in their dimensions from 0.1m to 0.6m in height and from 3m
to 7.6m in diameter. In addition these low central banks are surrounded by a
shallow circular ditch and outer bank which gives them the form characteristic
of Roman barrows found elsewhere in the northern frontier area.
The Stanegate Roman road, the main east-west road, from the Haltwhistle Burn
in the east crosses the south part of Camp 1 and is visible as a series of
earthworks along the eastern half of this section. The remains of the
Stanegate have been severely eroded in the western half of the camp, and
though its course is known as it leaves the camp to the west, there are no
upstanding remains. The barrows of the Four Laws cemetery lie to the north of
the Stanegate both inside and outside the camp at the western end of this
section of the Stanegate.
The course of another Roman road which joined the fort at Great Chesters with
the Stanegate, is overlain by the present track from Great Chesters Farm to
Markham Cottage which encroaches on the west side of the camp.
The Wall Mill cemetery is clearly associated with this approach road to the
fort at Great Chesters.
The field boundaries and the surface of the modern roads are excluded from the
scheduling, but the ground beneath them is included.
Markham Cottage and Lees Hall Gate and their associated gardens are totally
excluded from the scheduling.
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
Source: Historic England
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 identifiable.
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.
Over 40 temporary camps of many different sizes, some of them still visible as
earthworks, have been recorded in the vicinity of the Wall. These generally
consisted of a rampart of earth quickly thrown up to surround a military
encampment. The rampart may have been surmounted by a timber palisade.
Occupation of these camps was generally short-lived and, while very few of
these examples have been firmly dated, it seems probable that at least some
were work camps used by troops involved in the Wall construction. Others may
have been created as practice camps during military training; temporary camps
were widely used during military campaigning to provide overnight security to
troops on the move.
The Stanegate military road linked Corbridge and Carlisle, both of which were
also situated on important north-south routeways. It also extended west of
Carlisle towards the Cumbrian coast. The construction of a series of forts
along the road line allowed many troops to be stationed in this crucial
frontier area and ensured that the area could be extensively patrolled. A
series of smaller watchtowers were also built to help frontier control. The
Stanegate frontier thus created, developed further and was consolidated during
the late first and early second century AD and helped crystallise Roman
tactics and military expectations in the area. The function of the road and
its forts changed when Hadrian's Wall was constructed to the north and their
support roles were, initially at least, enhanced. The later history of the
road and its forts and their relationship with the Wall are less well
understood although, overall, their strategic functions declined as the new
frontier line was confirmed.
Markham Cottage Roman temporary camps, the section of Stanegate Roman road and
the Roman cemetery to the south survive as both upstanding and buried remains,
while the ditches of the camps and Stanegate, the cemetery to the north and
parts of the cemetery to the south survive as buried features. The rarity of
temporary camps, and in particular examples with upstanding remains,
identifies them as nationally important. Roadside cemeteries were common in
Roman Britain but very few survive as visible features, as is the case
here. They demonstrate well the complexity of remains found in the frontier
zone and will contribute to any study of Roman burial practice.
Source: Historic England
Books and journals
Hodgson, J, The Victoria History of the County of Northumberland, (1840)
Source: Historic England
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