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Hadrian's Wall, associated features and a Romano-British settlement between the road to Steel Rigg car park and the road through Caw Gap in wall miles 39 to 41

A Scheduled Monument in Melkridge, Northumberland

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Latitude: 54.9983 / 54°59'53"N

Longitude: -2.4192 / 2°25'9"W

OS Eastings: 373277.793

OS Northings: 567154.9786

OS Grid: NY732671

Mapcode National: GBR CBKN.12

Mapcode Global: WH90W.TM5M

Entry Name: Hadrian's Wall, associated features and a Romano-British settlement between the road to Steel Rigg car park and the road through Caw Gap in wall miles 39 to 41

Scheduled Date: 12 December 1928

Last Amended: 14 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010973

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26062

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Melkridge

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Beltingham with Henshaw

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the section of Hadrian's Wall and its associated
features between the west side of the road to Steel Rigg car park in the east
and the west side of the road in Caw Gap to the west. This section of Wall
runs along the crest of the Whin Sill and commands extensive views to the
north and south.
All the upstanding remains of Hadrian's Wall, the milecastles and the turrets
in this scheduling are Listed Grade I.
In this section Hadrian's Wall survives intermittently as an upstanding stone
wall. It has an average width of 2.2m and the wall face averages 1m high.
Sections of wall core still stand up to 1.7m high. A 335m section of
upstanding Wall 124m of which has been consolidated on Windshields Crags,
including the turf-covered site of milecastle 40, is in the care of the
Secretary of State. Elsewhere the Wall survives as a low stony mound with a
field wall overlying its course. The steep crags render a defensive ditch
superfluous and so the wall ditch was only constructed in the gaps between the
crags. East of Winshields Crags the ditch is visible, surviving between 1.3m
and 2.7m deep. The upcast mound from the ditch, usually known as the glacis,
measures between 0.3m and 1m high here. In Lodhams Slack the ditch has a
maximum depth of 1.8m. The glacis here is visible, but it has been heavily
Milecastle 40 is situated to the east of Windshields Crags with wide views to
the north, south and east. It survives as an upstanding feature with walls
surviving as rubble and turf-covered banks, up to 1m high. The milecastle
measures 18.5m north to south by 15m across. Excavations by Simpson in 1908
found the south wall to be standing ten courses high. The excavations also
demonstrated that the milecastle had undergone a number of rebuilding
episodes. Traces of internal buildings were found in the west half together
with an oven discovered in the south east angle.
Milecastle 41 is situated to the east of Caw Gap on a west facing slope with
wide views to the north and south. It survives as a turf-covered feature. The
turf banks covering the walls are 0.5m high internally with an external scarp
of up to 1.2m. The remains of robber trenches are marked by depressions.
A post-medieval cottage was built on the site of milecastle 41. The remains
of an enclosure associated with this cottage and visible as an upstanding
feature still abut the east side of the milecastle. Its walls are 1m wide and
0.2m high. Two further platforms to the east may be the remains of buildings.
A sub rectangular enclosure is located to the east of the milecastle and also
survives as an upstanding feature. The enclosure measures 8.5m by 6m with
walls 1m wide and 0.2m high. Earth and stone banks, up to 0.3m high, overlie
the Military Way to the south east of the milecastle. All these features are
probably part of the same settlement.
Turret 39b is located on the west side of the road to Steel Rigg car park at
the foot of an east facing slope. It commands views across the hollow to the
north and to the line of the Stanegate Roman road to the south. The turret
survives as a buried feature. Excavation in 1912 by Simpson showed that it
measured 5.75m north to south by 5m across. The turret was built with broad
wing walls attaching it to the main Wall line. These wing walls were shown to
have been built over with narrow wall. At some point the north wall of the
turret was demolished and Hadrian's Wall rebuilt across it to its full width.
Turret 40a, which survives as a buried feature, is situated on almost the
highest point along Hadrian's Wall. It commands panoramic views in all
directions. It was located in 1912 by Simpson. Excavation in 1946 by Stevens
showed that it had been deliberately destroyed during the Roman period. It had
narrow walls and a doorway in its east side.
Turret 40b is situated on the summit of the hill to the west of Lodhams Slack.
This site commands wide views in all directions. It too survives only as a
buried feature. It was located in 1912 by Simpson. Excavation in 1946 by
Stevens showed that the turret had narrow walls and that it was unusually
wide, being 5.85m across internally.
The course of the Roman road known as the Military Way, which ran along the
corridor linking turrets, milecastles and forts, is known throughout the
length of this section even though for the most part there are few visible
remains. Its course is marked usually by a slight causeway, up to 0.2m high,
or by differing vegetation marks seen in grass colour. This differentiation
in vegetation cover reflects differing growing conditions on the compacted
road surface. It is best preserved where it crosses a gully running into Green
Slack. Here it survives as a built up causeway, 1.7m high and 2m wide. South
of milecastle 41 the causeway survives up to 0.7m high with kerb stones on its
south side.
A shieling survives as an upstanding feature about 140m east of turret 40b.
The walls of this triple-celled shieling exist as stony banks averaging 0.2m
high. Its south side was built directly over the south kerb of the Military
Way. Shielings are small huts used by shepherds on a seasonal basis usually
during upland grazing in the summer months. They are characteristic of the
medieval period in this area.
An important group of shielings is known around Bogle Hole. They survive as
rectangular structures averaging 4m across and of variable length. The stone
walls survive as turf-covered mounds, 0.2m high.
The remains of at least three probable Romano-British huts and associated
features survive on the south side of Windshields Crags to the west of Green
Slack. They were first noted by MacLauchlan in the 1850s. These rectangular
buildings measure 5m by 2m internally with boulder walls between 0.5m and 1m
wide and 0.5m high.
All field boundaries, except those constructed directly on the line of
Hadrian's Wall, and road surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, but
the ground beneath 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 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.

Hadrian's Wall and its associated features between the road to Steel Rigg car
park and the road in Caw Gap survive well as a series of buried and upstanding
remains. Significant information on the development of the frontier system
over time will be preserved. The cluster of shielings around the Bogle Hole
is unusual in its density. They are thought to indicate reuse of the Wall as
a stock-proof boundary in the medieval period.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Simpson, F G, Watermills and Military Works on Hadrian's Wall: Excavations..., (1977), 108-113
Simpson, F G, Watermills and Military Works on Hadrian's Wall: Excavations..., (1977), 86-98
Stevens, C E, 'Journal of Roman Studies' in Roman Britain in 1946, , Vol. 37, (1947), 168

Source: Historic England

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