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The vallum and a British settlement between the field boundary west of turret 37a and the road to Steel Rigg car park, in wall miles 37, 38 and 39

A Scheduled Monument in Henshaw, Northumberland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.0009 / 55°0'3"N

Longitude: -2.3657 / 2°21'56"W

OS Eastings: 376702.356288

OS Northings: 567431.890056

OS Grid: NY767674

Mapcode National: GBR CBXM.M3

Mapcode Global: WH90X.MKNL

Entry Name: The vallum and a British settlement between the field boundary west of turret 37a and the road to Steel Rigg car park, in wall miles 37, 38 and 39

Scheduled Date: 12 December 1928

Last Amended: 14 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010972

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26061

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Henshaw

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Beltingham with Henshaw

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle

Details

The monument includes the section of vallum and the Milking Gap native British
settlement between the field boundary west of turret 37a in the east and the
road to Steel Rigg car park in the west.
The vallum survives well as an upstanding earthwork throughout most of this
section. Where extant the north mound averages 1.7m high, the south
mound 1m high and the ditch 1.2m deep. Between High Shield and Twice Brewed
the B6318 road overlies parts of the vallum. However, where it runs along the
line of the vallum the road lies on the south berm, which has resulted in some
disturbance to the monument. To the south of Hotbank Crags the remains of the
vallum have been reduced and the ditch silted up, though its course can still
be traced.
A native British settlement is situated on the west side of Milking Gap
between Hadrian's Wall and the vallum. It is located in a dip on the
springline at the base of the slope to the south of Hotbank Crags. It survives
as a series of upstanding stone remains and buried features. The settlement
itself includes a rectilinear enclosure which has been subdivided around a
central stone hut which has an entrance in its east side. The enclosure walls
are made with double faced boulders and average 2m wide and 0.8m high. The
central hut has a diameter of 7m and has internally faced walls 1.3m wide and
0.4m high. The remains of other huts survive to the south and east of the
central hut with walls less than 1m wide and 0.25m high. Excavation in 1937 by
Kilbride-Jones discovered pottery which showed that the settlement was
occupied during the second century AD. Around the settlement are a number of
low mounds and cairns which may be contemporary or earlier. These average
between 0.2m and 0.5m high. Fragmentary remains of walls around the site are
probably the remains of an associated field system. These walls are made from
boulders and average 1.2m wide and 0.4m high.
All field boundaries, road surfaces, sign posts and stiles are excluded from
the scheduling, but the ground beneath all these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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
Firth.
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.
The Romans constructed their frontier system in an area which already had an
established native population. The imposition of the Wall into their lands
must have had a significant impact on the native inhabitants of the area. The
nature and extent of this impact, however, remains a matter of much debate.
The remains of several native settlements lie very close to the Wall line, on
occasion within the defensive system. These generally take the form of one or
more hut circles, usually located within an enclosure. They are interpreted as
small farmsteads occupied by family groups. Those immediately adjacent to the
frontier system are unlikely to have been occupied whilst the Wall was in use
and hence would pre-date the Roman presence here. Whether such settlements
were deliberately cleared or were already abandoned has yet to be ascertained.

The vallum and associated features, including the British settlement, between
the field boundary west of turret 37a and the road to Steel Rigg car park
survive well as a series of upstanding and buried remains. Significant
information on the development of the frontier system over time will be
preserved.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Kilbride-Jones, H E, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in The Excavation of a Native Settlement at Milking Gap High Shield, , Vol. 4 ser,15, (1938)

Source: Historic England

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