Haltwhistle Burn 1 Roman temporary camp, fortlet and section of the Stanegate


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010945

Date first listed: 12-Dec-1928

Date of most recent amendment: 14-Jul-1997


Ordnance survey map of Haltwhistle Burn 1 Roman temporary camp, fortlet and section of the Stanegate
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1010945 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 14-Dec-2018 at 14:43:03.


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

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Haltwhistle


National Grid Reference: NY 71329 66042


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 Haltwhistle Burn 1 Roman temporary camp, Haltwhistle Burn fortlet and the stretch of the Stanegate survive well as upstanding earthworks with accompanying silted up ditches. The rarity of temporary camps, and in particular examples with upstanding remains, identifies them as nationally important. The remains will retain significant information on the development of the frontier systems over time. In addition the fortlet is unusual, as local circumstances must have required the fortlet to house a permanent garrison at this point on the Stanegate; it was more usual for the Stanegate to be guarded by soldiers based in larger forts.


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


The monument includes the Roman temporary camp known as Haltwhistle Burn 1, the Haltwhistle Burn Roman fortlet, and a stretch of the east-west Roman road known as the Stanegate. These archaeological remains survive as upstanding features. The east facing temporary camp occupies the summit and north facing slopes of a low ridge which extends west towards the Haltwhistle Burn. It commands good views on all sides and encloses an area of 1ha. The rampart is best preserved in the south east where it is 0.1m high internally and 0.7m above the base of the ditch. The ditch is on average 0.2m deep, though a seasonal watercourse has removed a section on the north side and a hollow way has destroyed part of the ditch at the south west angle. Excavations across the south east corner in 1907-8 revealed that the ditch was 1.2m wide and 0.6m deep, and that its centre line was 2.4m outside that of the rampart. Turf had been used for the foundation of the rampart and for an outer revetment. The rampart was made from the material upcast from the ditch. Two gateways still survive; one in the west side and one in the south. That on the west has been disturbed by surface quarrying and trackways, though its external defence bank survives to a height of 0.2m. The south gateway is better preserved, and its outer defence bank survives to a height of 0.4m. An archaeological trench cut through this gateway showed that the bank of the external gateway defence was built in the same way as the rampart. The modern public road to Burnhead and Cawfields crosses the north and east defences at the points opposite the south and west entrances of the camp, precisely where the gateways in the north and east sides would be expected to be located. The fortlet is situated on gently sloping ground before the steep drop into Haltwhistle Burn to the west, and south of the temporary camp. It guarded the crossing of the Burn by the Stanegate, and was built around AD 105. It is therefore earlier in date than Hadrian's Wall itself. Internally the camp measures about 55m north to south and 65m east to west. Some of the internal features, including a barrack block and officers quarters, are still visible as earthworks. Externally, the defences were strengthened by the provision of an outwork. The area around the fortlet has been disturbed by watercourses and by the tracks and tramways associated with the 19th century ironstone mines 400m to the east. The scarps on the east bank of the Burn have also been extensively quarried away. The Stanegate which was the main-east west road survives as a prominent ridge with side ditches. Its course changes as it nears the fortlet and turns south west to negotiate the steep and narrow valley of the Haltwhistle Burn which it descends at a constant gradient. Excluding the ditches, the road measures about 8m across. After the Stanegate crosses the burn to the SSW of the fortlet, its course can be clearly observed ascending the west bank of the Burn before it straightens up on its way through Markham Cottage temporary camps. The field boundaries and the surface of the modern road are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath them 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: 26014

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Gibson, J P, Simpson, F G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in The Roman Fort on the Stanegate at Haltwhistle Burn, (1909), 213-85
Gibson, J P, Simpson, F G, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in The Roman Fort on the Stanegate at Haltwhistle Burn, (1909), 213-85

End of official listing