Hadrian's Wall and vallum between the B6309 and the B6321 in wall miles 16, 17 and 18


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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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 Grid Reference:
NZ 05078 68302

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 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 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 and its associated features between the B6309 and the B6321 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.


The monument includes the section of Hadrian's Wall, vallum and associated features between the B6309 in the east and the B6321 in the west. The ground slopes gently upwards towards the west throughout this section of the monument. There are wide views to the north, east and south. However, the rising ground to the west restricts the outlook in this direction. Hadrian's Wall survives as buried remains below the road surface of the B6318 road thoughout the length of this section. The wall ditch survives as an earthwork to the north of the road for most of the length of this section. It averages about 1.4m deep throughout, though it reaches a maximum of 3m in places. Milecastle 17 is positioned on sloping ground to the west of the Northern Reservoir. It survives as a low platform with a scarp to the east and a slight stone scatter. It was partly excavated in 1931 and its walls were shown to be about 2.5m thick. Milecastle 18 occupies a position on a gentle west facing slope on the south side of the B6318 road at East Wallhouses. There are no visible remains above ground; however, its site is known as it was partly excavated in 1931 when its walls were found to be almost 2.5m thick. Turret 17a survives as a buried feature located 310m to the east of the track which runs south to Welton from the B6318 road, on a ridge of level ground. It was excavated in 1931 and was shown to have a door in the south west corner and a ladder platform in the south east corner. Turret 17b is located 320m east of the Robin Hood Inn, surviving as a buried feature beneath the B6318 road. The ground slopes upwards to the west while to the east the ground is fairly level. This turret was also partly excavated in 1931 and like turret 17a it was shown to have a door in the south west corner and a ladder platform in the south east corner. Turret 18a is located at the junction of the minor road to West Moorhouses off the B6318 on an east facing slope. There are no visible remains apart from a rise in the hedgeline. Part excavation in 1931 showed that the surviving buried remains are very well preserved. Its ladder platform stood to its full height with six stone steps. Turret 18b is located 50m to the east of Welton Burn on an east facing slope. There are no visible remains. It was partly excavated in 1959 when animal bones and pottery were found. The course of the Roman road, known as the Military Way, linking turrets, milecastles and forts, which ran along the corridor between the Wall and the vallum, is not yet confirmed in this section. It is known to exist here as Horsley noted in the 1730s that it ran along the north mound of the vallum for a short distance where the Wall and vallum are very close and then, `A little after it has passed by the Wall houses, it runs almost parallel both to the Wall and the north agger'. Its remains now survive as buried features. The vallum continues on the same straight alignment as its neighbouring sections throughout its course. It is visible as an upstanding earthwork except for the first kilometre west of the Northern Reservoir where it has been reduced by cultivation and its ditches silted up. The north mound averages about 0.25m in height whereas the south mound averages about 0.6m high. The vallum ditch averages about 0.8m in depth, though it reaches a depth of 1.4m in places. The buildings and intervening areas at South Wall Houses are totally excluded from the scheduling. The surface of the roads, all field boundaries, overhead electricity supply poles, telegraph poles and road signs 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Birley, , Brewis, , Simpson, , 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Excavations on Hadrian' Wall between Heddon on the Wall and....., , Vol. 4 ser, 9, (1932), 257-8
Birley, , Brewis, , Simpson, , 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Excavations on Hadrian' Wall between Heddon on the Wall and....., , Vol. 4 ser, 9, (1932), 257-8
Birley, , Brewis, , Simpson, , 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Excavations on Hadrian' Wall between Heddon on the Wall and....., , Vol. 4 ser, 9, (1932), 258
Birley, , Brewis, , Simpson, , 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Excavations on Hadrian' Wall between Heddon on the Wall and....., , Vol. 4 ser, 9, (1932), 257


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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