Haltwhistle Burn Roman temporary camps 2 and 3 and area of cord rig cultivation


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010946

Date first listed: 12-Dec-1928

Date of most recent amendment: 14-Jul-1997


Ordnance survey map of Haltwhistle Burn Roman temporary camps 2 and 3 and area of cord rig cultivation
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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 71611 66341


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 Roman temporary camps 2 and 3 and the area of cord rig cultivation survive well as upstanding earthworks. The rarity of temporary camps, and in particular examples with upstanding remains, identifies them as nationally important. Cord rig cultivation is late prehistoric in date and hence pre-dates the Roman sites in this area. Like later ridge and furrow earthworks, it was the product of organised arable cultivation. The higher rigs provided well-drained and warmer ground on which crops could be grown; the intervening furrows provided the soil for the rigs and also enhanced the drainage through the field system. Cord rig is found throughout the borders and provides an insight into the organisation and use of the landscape in the late prehistoric period. At Haltwhistle Burn the cord rig is well preserved and illustrates how the Roman frontier was established in a landscape that was already well used.


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


The monument includes the two Roman temporary camps, Haltwhistle Burn 2 and 3, and an area of cord rig cultivation ridges. These all survive as upstanding remains. The camps lie 100m south of the vallum and 100m north of the Stanegate Roman road. Camp 2 is the earlier and larger of the two camps. It was later divided in two by a rampart and ditch that extends east to west to form Camp 3, a smaller later camp. The camps are situated on a level shelf 30m to the ENE of Haltwhistle Burn Camp 1. Camp 2 is square in plan, measuring 94m across and enclosing an area of 0.7ha. The rampart stands to a maximum height of 0.35m internally and the external ditch to a depth of 0.3m. There are three gateways to the camp, all of which are visible at the medial points in the north, south and east sides. Opposite each gateway are the remains of external defence banks up to 0.3m high with outer ditches up to 0.1m deep. There is no sign of a west gateway as this area has been eroded by a seasonal watercourse. Camp 3 occupies the northern part of its predecessor, Camp 2, partly reusing its ramparts. It encloses an area of 0.3ha. The east rampart and ditch may have been reconstructed as they appear to be offset by about 1m from those of the earlier rampart of Camp 2. The new south rampart was provided with a gateway at its mid-point. This has a well preserved external defence bank 3.5m beyond the outer lip of the ditch. Within the camp are the turf-covered remains of two structures each 0.1m high. One is approximately square and is bounded by a bank with two stones exposed in the north east corner; the other is U-shaped with a depression in the centre. An area of prehistoric cord rig cultivation lies 15m to the south of the ramparts of Camp 2. These cultivation ridges extend further south for 45m, occupying gently undulating ground.

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: 26015

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