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Milestone House Roman temporary camp and section of the Stanegate Roman road

List Entry Summary

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.

Name: Milestone House Roman temporary camp and section of the Stanegate Roman road

List entry Number: 1010932

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County:

District: Northumberland

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Haltwhistle

County:

District: Northumberland

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Melkridge

National Park: NORTHUMBERLAND

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 12-Dec-1928

Date of most recent amendment: 14-Jul-1997

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 26018

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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 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 Stanegate military road linked Corbridge and Carlisle, both of which were also situated on important north-south routeways. It also extended west of Carlisle towards the Cumbrian coast. The construction of a series of forts along the road line allowed many troops to be stationed in this crucial frontier area and ensured that the area could be extensively patrolled. A series of smaller watchtowers were also built to help frontier control. The Stanegate frontier thus created, developed further and was consolidated during the late first and early second century AD and helped crystallise Roman tactics and military expectations in the area. The function of the road and its forts changed when Hadrian's Wall was constructed to the north and their support roles were, initially at least, enhanced. The later history of the road and its forts and their relationship with the Wall are less well understood although, overall, their strategic functions declined as the new frontier line was confirmed. Milestone House Roman temporary camp and stretch of the Stanegate survive well as upstanding earthworks with silted ditches. The rarity of temporary camps, and in particular examples with upstanding remains, identifies them as nationally important.

History

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

Details

The monument includes the Milestone House Roman temporary camp and a stretch of the Stanegate Roman road. They survive as upstanding earthworks. The road lies 340m south of Hadrian's Wall vallum at its nearest point. The camp occupies a low point between a succession of north facing limestone escarpments, and it is these which account for its irregular layout. The defences enclose an area of 7ha and are best preserved on the west side and the west end of the south side where the ramparts reach a maximum height of 1.2m above the bottom of the external ditch, which is 0.3m deep. There is no rampart visible on the north side, which is delimited by the edge of a natural crag, making a rampart superfluous. There are gateways in the central points of the south and west ramparts, each with external defence banks. A gateway on the north east side is indicated by the presence of an external defence bank, though there is now no visible trace left of the adjacent rampart in this section. A later rectangular enclosure was constructed in the south east corner; its origin and purpose are not yet fully understood. Its internal dimensions are 37m from north to south by 75m east to west. A number of small, circular earthworks occur inside and outside the camp, ranging in diameter from 4m to 10m and about 0.3m high. These structures are probably the remains of simple limekilns, known locally as `sow' kilns, used as recently as the beginning of the 20th century to produce lime for fertilizer. To the immediate north of the camp lie the remains of a stretch of the main Roman east-west road, the Stanegate. Although disturbed by later hollow ways and stone robbing, its course is clear on the ground. The road runs along the high ground in the east, and then runs just to the south of the crest of the gentle ridge occupied by the Mare and Foal standing stones (the subject of a separate scheduling) and then along the ridge itself as it runs west towards Haltwhistle Burn. The road measures on average about 8m across throughout its course. Buried ditches flank the road on either side. The field boundaries and the road surface of the modern B6318 are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath them is included. Milestone House and its associated garden are totally excluded from the scheduling.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Selected Sources

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

National Grid Reference: NY 72144 66139

Map

Map
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Sep-2018 at 08:26:54.

End of official listing