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Limestone Corner Roman temporary camp

A Scheduled Monument in Simonburn, Northumberland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.0366 / 55°2'11"N

Longitude: -2.1944 / 2°11'39"W

OS Eastings: 387674.198092

OS Northings: 571364.287514

OS Grid: NY876713

Mapcode National: GBR FB36.Q9

Mapcode Global: WHB1Y.8N9P

Entry Name: Limestone Corner Roman temporary camp

Scheduled Date: 12 December 1928

Last Amended: 14 July 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017536

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26002

County: Northumberland

Civil Parish: Simonburn

Traditional County: Northumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northumberland

Church of England Parish: Warden

Church of England Diocese: Newcastle

Details

The monument includes the Roman temporary camp at Limestone Corner which
survives as a series of earthworks. The camp occupies a gentle south facing
slope at the south edge of the summit of Limestone Corner, some 105m south of
Hadrian's Wall vallum.
The camp is not quite square, each side measuring between 50m and 55m in
length. It encloses an area of 0.2ha within a low rampart up to 0.5m high.
The ditch, at best 0.1m deep, is traceable around most of the periphery,
though it is interrupted at the north west corner by an outcrop of dolerite.
Midway along each of the four sides of the camp is a gateway with an external
traverse. The north entrance appears to have been blocked, presumably at a
later date.
The later, turf covered remains within the camp are probably those of a
farmstead, the date of which is unknown. The footings of two rectangular
buildings, a possible stockyard and remnants of other buildings, which range
along the south and west ramparts and the disturbed north east sector, occupy
the interior of the camp.
When excavated in 1912, a trench just south of the west gateway revealed that
the ditch was only about 0.6m deep. Although flagged areas were found in the
interior, they were presumably associated with the farmstead. Some Roman
pottery was found which belongs to the late third to early fourth century AD,
though some probable fragments of early second century AD black burnished ware
were also found. The stratigraphical relationship of the pottery to the
building of the camp is not yet fully understood.
About 10m north west of the camp, just within the protected area, is a mound
measuring 5m by 4m and 0.3m high; it contains some stone and has been
disturbed on the west side. Its origin and purpose are uncertain.

MAP EXTRACT
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
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.
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 Limestone Corner Roman temporary camp survives well as an upstanding
monument. The rarity of temporary camps, and in particular examples with
upstanding remains, identifies them as nationally important.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Newbold, P, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Excavations of the Roman Wall at Limestone Bank, , Vol. 9, (1913), 54-74

Source: Historic England

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