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Hadrian's Wall and vallum between the field boundary at Brown Dikes and the field boundary east of turret 34a in wall miles 32, 33 and 34

A Scheduled Monument in Simonburn, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.0297 / 55°1'46"N

Longitude: -2.2747 / 2°16'28"W

OS Eastings: 382538.330281

OS Northings: 570605.718179

OS Grid: NY825706

Mapcode National: GBR DBK8.BT

Mapcode Global: WHB1X.1V31

Entry Name: Hadrian's Wall and vallum between the field boundary at Brown Dikes and the field boundary east of turret 34a in wall miles 32, 33 and 34

Scheduled Date: 12 December 1928

Last Amended: 14 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010963

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26056

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Simonburn

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Warden

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the section of Hadrian's Wall, vallum and their
associated features between the field boundary at Brown Dikes in the east and
the field boundary east of turret 34a in the west. This section occupies a
predominantly level stretch of ground, except at the west end where the Wall
occupies the escarpment of the Whin Sill.
The upstanding remains of Hadrian's Wall, the milecastle and the turrets from
the drain west of turret 33a to the field boundary east of turret 34a are
Listed Grade I.
Hadrian's Wall survives as a series of upstanding and buried features
throughout this section. It survives as a buried feature beneath the B6318
road at the east end of this section. Immediately east of milecastle 33 and
beyond to the west end of this section the Wall survives either as a low turf
covered bank, averaging 0.4m high, or as a series of robber trenches up to
0.4m deep. The north Wall-face west of the gateway of milecastle 33 is exposed
for 16.7m. This unconsolidated stretch of upstanding wall reaches a maximum
height of 1.5m. Either side of turret 33b the Wall is exposed and consolidated
for a total length of 15.1m. Here the Wall measures 1.95m wide and has a
maximum height of 1m. The wall ditch and its associated upcast mound, known as
the glacis, survive well in this section as a series of earthworks. In
the east part of this section the ditch survives to an average depth of 3m
while the glacis attains a maximum height of 2.7m in places. Beyond turret 33b
the ditch is cut partly into the bedrock. It measures up to 13m in width and
2.2m in depth. The glacis here is seen intermittently as an irregular spread
over the craggy scarp.
Milecastle 33 at Shield on the Wall survives mostly as a turf covered platform
visible on the ground. The north gateway and parts of the north wall are
exposed as upstanding masonry up to 1.2m in height. Fragments of the south
gateway are also exposed. It was partly excavated during 1884 by Clayton.
Milecastle 34 is located within a small walled plantation about 430m east of
turret 34a. It survives as a buried feature beneath the walls of the
plantation and the wooded interior. It was noted by the antiquarian Horsley in
this location during the 1730s.
Milecastle 34 is in the care of the Secretary of State together with the
length of wall, wall ditch and vallum to the east, as far as the point where
the B6318 road crosses the vallum ditch. To the west of the milecastle the
Wall alone is in the care of the Secretary of State to the end of this
The precise location of turret 32b has not yet been confirmed. However, on the
basis of the usual spacing, it is expected to lie about 450m east of
milecastle 33.
As with turret 32b the precise location of turret 33a has not yet been
identified. On the basis of the usual spacing it is expected to lie about 450m
west of milecastle 33.
Turret 33b survives well as an upstanding feature. It is consolidated and in
the care of the Secretary of State. It was first located by Simpson in 1913.
It measures 3.95m east-west by 3.9m north-south. The walls are 0.9m thick and
have a maximum height of 1.1m. The entrance was at the east end of the south
wall, but this was subsequently blocked. The turret was excavated during 1968
and 1970 when it was found that its occupation had ceased before the end of
the second century AD. The Wall had then been rebuilt across the turret
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, milecastes and
forts, was carried on the north mound of the vallum in the east half of this
section. Its buried remains survive below grassland east of milecastle 33,
until the B6318 road coincides with the north mound of the vallum where it
lies below the modern road surface. South of turret 33b the Military Way
leaves the north mound of the vallum and follows a course parallel to that of
the Wall. Here it survives as a distinct linear mound up to 6m wide and up to
0.3m high.
The vallum survives well as an upstanding earthwork visible on the ground
throughout this section. It runs roughly parallel with the line of the Wall
until south of turret 33b where it turns to the south west and follows the
tail of the escarpment. In the east half of this section the vallum ditch
averages 3.5m in depth, while the north and south mounds average 1.5m in
height. A number of crossings are still extant here at 42m intervals. West of
milecastle 33 the ditch averages 2m in depth and the north and south mounds
1.2m in height. West of turret 33b the ditch is partly rock cut and reaches a
maximum depth of 2.5m.
All road surfaces, English Heritage fixtures and fittings, all field
boundaries except those constructed directly on the line of Hadrian's Wall,
and buildings within the area of the monument are excluded from the
scheduling, but the ground beneath these features is included.

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 vallum and their associated features between the field
boundary at Brown Dikes and the field boundary east of turret 34a survive well
as a series of buried and upstanding remains. Significant information on the
development of the frontier system over time will be preserved.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Horsley, J, Britannia Romana, (1732), 146
Miket, R, Maxfield, V, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in The Excavation Of Turret 33b (Coesike), , Vol. 4 ser,50, (1972), 145-178

Source: Historic England

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