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Hadrian's Wall and vallum between the B6321 and Sunnybrae at Halton Shields, in wall miles 18 and 19

A Scheduled Monument in Whittington, Northumberland

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Latitude: 55.0117 / 55°0'42"N

Longitude: -1.9574 / 1°57'26"W

OS Eastings: 402819.730175

OS Northings: 568568.358411

OS Grid: NZ028685

Mapcode National: GBR GBSH.08

Mapcode Global: WHB27.X92B

Entry Name: Hadrian's Wall and vallum between the B6321 and Sunnybrae at Halton Shields, in wall miles 18 and 19

Scheduled Date: 12 December 1928

Last Amended: 14 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017534

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26044

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Whittington

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Matfen Holy Trinity

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle


The monument includes the section of Hadrian's Wall, vallum and their
associated features between the B6321 in the east and Sunnybrae at Halton
Shields in the west. This section of the corridor occupies an east facing
slope for most of its length with views to the north and east, but more
restricted outlooks to the south and west.
The Wall survives as a buried feature below the surface of the B6318 road. The
wall ditch survives as an extant earthwork to the north of the road throughout
this section except where it is overlain by access crossings. The average
depth of the ditch is about 1.5m; however it reaches a maximum depth of 3m in
places. For most of its length the ditch has a width of 12m. An open drain
runs along the base of the ditch eastwards from East Wallhouses for 500m.
Milecastle 19 is located 150m east of Matfen Piers on an east facing slope. It
survives as a turf covered platform 0.15m high and measuring 27.8m east-west
by 17m north-south. Excavation of the milecastle took place in 1931 and
uncovered an altar dedicated to `..the Mothers..'.
Turret 19a is located 270m west of Matfen Piers below the B6318 road at the
crest of an east facing slope. There are no upstanding remains apart from a 5m
stretch of rough walling, 0.8m high contained within a hedge. Turret 19a was
excavated in 1932 when it was found to be well preserved with its door located
in its south west corner. The excavation also revealed that it had been
dismantled early in the third century AD.
Turret 19b survives as a buried feature located 170m east of the minor road
which links Clarewood with the B6318. An excavation in 1932 produced many
finds including a small altar. Unusually, the turret was bonded mainly with
clay rather than mortar. The door was again located in the south west corner.
This turret was found to have been abandoned at the turn of the second century
AD. 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, is not yet confirmed in this section of the corridor.
The vallum runs straight throughout this section on the same alignment as its
neighbouring sections. It survives as an upstanding earthwork in varying
states of preservation throughout the length of this section. The north and
south mounds reach a maximum height of 0.8m while the ditch has a maximum
depth of 0.6m.
Piers Lodge is totally excluded from the scheduling. All buildings, field
boundaries, road surfaces and road signs 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.

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, vallum and their associated features between the B6321 and
Sunnybrae at Halton Shields, survive as a series of buried and upstanding
remains. Significant information on the function of the remains and the
development of the frontier system over time will be preserved.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Birley, , Brewis, , Charlton, , 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Excavations On Hadrian's Wall Between Matfen Piers And Halton..., , Vol. 4 ser,10, (1933), 99
Birley, , Brewis, , Charlton, , 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Excavations On Hadrian's Wall Between Matfen Piers And Halton..., , Vol. 4 ser,10, (1933), 98-99
Birley, , Brewis, , Charlton, , 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Excavations On Hadrian's Wall Between Matfen Piers And Halton..., , Vol. 4 ser,10, (1933), 98

Source: Historic England

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