Hadrian's Wall and vallum between the Fence Burn and the track to Portgate Cottage in wall miles 21 and 22


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010625

Date first listed: 12-Dec-1928

Date of most recent amendment: 05-Mar-1997


Ordnance survey map of Hadrian's Wall and vallum between the Fence Burn and the track to Portgate Cottage in wall miles 21 and 22
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Nov-2018 at 17:37:53.


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

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Corbridge

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Whittington

National Grid Reference: NY 98763 68461


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 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 Fence Burn and the track to Portgate Cottage survive as a series of buried and upstanding remains. Significant information on the development of the frontier system over time will be preserved. A rare feature located in this section is a major gateway where Dere Street crosses the line of the Wall.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the section of Hadrian's Wall between the Fence Burn in the east and the west side of the track to Portgate Cottage in the west. This section of the Wall occupies an east facing slope with limited views in all directions. The Wall survives as a buried feature below the B6318 road for most of this section. The stretch of Wall 220m east to 320m west of the course of the A68, where the B6318 swings north to a roundabout, lies below the 18th century metalled road which is now disused. The wall ditch survives as a buried feature for most of this section; however, towards the west end of the section it survives as a visible earthwork. The maximum height of its south scarp is 4m and the maximum height of its north scarp is 2m. There are slight traces of the upcast mound, known as the `glacis', to the north of the ditch. Milecastle 22 is located about 220m east of the junction of the B6318 and the A68 on an east facing slope. It survives as a square turf covered platform, 0.5m high on its east side. The milecastle was partly excavated in 1930, when its internal width was shown to be about 17.5m, while the walls were 2.45m thick. The north gateway had been blocked early on, probably because the gateway carrying Dere Street Roman road through the line of the Wall was near enough to serve all purposes for which a milecastle gateway could be used. Turret 21b occupies a prominent point 230m west of the Roman fort at Haltonchesters. There are no visible remains above ground, but it is expected to survive as a buried feature. Turret 22a is situated about 200m west of the Port Gate roundabout on an east facing slope. It was located and partly excavated in 1930. There are no upstanding remains. 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, survives intermittently throughout this section. East of milecastle 22 there is a 170m stretch of the road which survives as an upstanding ridge, in a field which also has extensive ridge and furrow earthworks. The road here survives to a maximum height of 0.3m. Further west its remains were traced as parchmarks in the soil during dry conditions. Elsewhere in this section its course has not yet been confirmed. The vallum survives intermittently as an upstanding earthwork throughout this section. Where it is best preserved, between the Fence Burn and the A68, the ditch reaches a maximum depth of 0.9m, the north mound a height of 0.7m and the south mound a height of 0.3m. Elsewhere the mounds have been damaged and spread by ridge and furrow cultivation and the ditch has silted up to varying degrees. The Roman road known as Dere Street which ran from York into Scotland crossed the line of the Wall in this section. The course of the A68 road follows that of Dere Street along this part of its course. Immediately south of the vallum, for 150m, there is an overgrown mound beside the west verge of the A68, representing part of the Roman road which was not built directly over. An excavation in 1966 revealed that where Dere Street crossed the Wall, a gatehouse, formed of massive masonry blocks which projected northwards from the Wall by 3.6m had been constructed. The site of the gateway lies within the protected area. The Errington Arms and the buildings and forecourt of the petrol station at Port Gate are totally excluded from the scheduling. All road surfaces, field boundaries, street furniture, telegraph and electricity poles 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. It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number: 26047

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Bruce, J C, Handbook to the Roman wall, (1863), 89
Bruce, J C, Handbook to the Roman wall, (1863), 89-90
Bruce, J C, Handbook to the Roman wall, (1863), 102

End of official listing