Roman aqueduct to Great Chesters from the Cawburn


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
NY 71198 67524, NY 71337 68609, NY 72226 68874, NY 72875 68299, NY 73829 68743, NY 74095 68826


Roman aqueduct from Caw Burn to Great Chesters.

Reasons for Designation

An aqueduct is an artificial channel used to carry water. All known Roman aqueducts functioned on a gravity flow principle, whereby a water source was impounded at a higher level than the place to be supplied, and was then made to flow to it under the influence of gravity. Water was needed for domestic purposes including bathing and drainage, and also for some industrial processes. Three main types were built; pipeline aqueducts carried water through enclosed pipework which was normally ceramic, lead or wooden. Channel aqueducts carried water in U-shaped channels, normally a wooden or stone duct, which was either open or covered by stone flags. Leats were the simplest form of aqueduct, and carried water in an open channel dug into the ground and generally lined with clay. They often extended for several kilometres following contour levels. Bridges or other forms of support were used to carry the aqueduct over ravines and uneven terrain such as streams or rivers. The earliest aqueducts date from the period immediately following the Roman Conquest of Britain. These early examples are associated almost exclusively with military activity and provided water to forts. By the end of the 2nd century, most forts and also public towns had been provided with aqueducts, the need for water being driven particularly by the construction of elaborate bath houses, and the developing fashion of bathing as a social activity amongst both the military and civilian populations. Aqueducts were used throughout the Roman period, and some were still functioning into the 5th century AD. They were found throughout Roman Britain with particular concentrations along Hadrian's Wall. Only 60 have now been identified to survive. As a rare monument type which provides an important insight into Roman engineering skills and both military and civilian life, all surviving examples are identified to be nationally important.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 1 June 2016. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes the remains of an aqueduct of Roman date, which carried water from Caw Burn westwards to Great Chesters Roman fort. The aqueduct adopts a circuitous route closely following the topography of the landscape. The protected portions of the monument are contained within five separate areas of protection, which stretch over approximately 8.68km of the aqueduct’s length. The aqueduct is preserved as a partial earthwork and in other locations as a cropmark.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
ND 581
Legacy System:


MacKay, D. A. 1990 The Great Chesters Aqueduct: a new survey. Britannia 21, 285-289
PastScape Monument No:- 15376


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

End of official listing

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