Hadrian's Wall and vallum from Throckley to East Town House, Heddon-on-the-Wall in wall mile 11
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1010616
Date first listed: 12-Dec-1928
Date of most recent amendment: 14-Jul-1997
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Newcastle upon Tyne (Metropolitan Authority)
District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: NZ 14310 66842
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Reasons for Designation
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 associated remains between Throckley and East Town House, Heddon-on-the-Wall survive well as upstanding remains, earthworks and buried features. Significant information on the development of the frontier system over time will be preserved.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes a section of Hadrian's Wall, its outer ditch and the
vallum between Throckley and East Town House, Heddon-on-the-Wall. From various
places in this section of the Wall corridor there are wide views northwards
towards the Scottish Border and south west along Tynedale to the North
At the east end of this section, the Wall survives as a buried feature below
the course of the modern road, the B6528. Its line was recorded during
roadworks in November 1926 and it was found to be of broad wall type. In the
west end of this section there is a 255m stretch of upstanding consolidated
wall between 2.8m and 3m in width, reaching a maximum height of 1.7m. The core
was originally set in puddled clay, but is now reset in mortar to preserve
the work. The upstanding section of the Wall is in the care of the Secretary
Turret 11b was located by excavation in 1919. It survives as a buried feature
below the B6528.
The location of Turret 11a has not yet been confirmed though it probably lies
along the line of the wall somewhere opposite the Royal French Arms public
house. During 1879 a hoard of over 5000 silver Roman coins was found just to
the south of the Wall below the main road somewhere to the east of this turret
The wall ditch is thought to survive as a buried feature underlying the
gardens of the houses to the north of the Hexham Road (B6528), which are not
included in the scheduling. However, west of the houses the ditch survives as
an earthwork with a maximum depth of 1.9m and there is some rubble strewn over
its scarps. In the west end of this section, opposite the consolidated stretch
of wall, is a section of ditch, also in the care of the Secretary of State,
which reaches a maximum depth of 1.4m.
The vallum survives as an earthwork in the field south of the B6528. It lies
about 50m south of the wall line along this stretch of the corridor. In the
east end of this section the vallum mounds have been reduced by ploughing,
although the vallum ditch is still visible, reaching a depth of up to 1m. It
is most evident in the east end in the small stand of trees at the entrance of
the drive to Heddon Hall. On the summit of Great Hill, however, the works of
the vallum are very well marked. The ditch is cut through the freestone rock
and the south scarp shows Roman tool marks.
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 field boundaries, all English Heritage fixture and fittings and surface of
the B6528 road and drive to Heddon Hall 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.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 26037
Legacy System: RSM
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