Hadrian's Wall and vallum between Chesters and the road to Simonburn in wall miles 27, 28 and 29


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010960

Date first listed: 12-Dec-1928

Date of most recent amendment: 14-Jul-1997


Ordnance survey map of Hadrian's Wall and vallum between Chesters and the road to Simonburn in wall miles 27, 28 and 29
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Humshaugh

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Simonburn

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Warden


National Grid Reference: NY 89572 70805


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 works between Chesters and the minor road to Simonburn survive intermittently as upstanding monuments and as buried features. There is one particularly well preserved section of Wall, with a well preserved turret still standing at Black Carts. Significant information on the development of the frontier system over time will be preserved.


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


The monument includes the section of Hadrian's Wall and associated features between Chesters in the east and the minor road to Simonburn in the west. This section of the corridor occupies the steep valley side on the west bank of the North Tyne. Hadrian's Wall survives as a buried feature below grassland for most of this section. However, it is visible intermittently as an upstanding feature in two places. In the grounds of Chesters house a short section of Wall, 13.5m long and up to 1.1m high, is exposed. Further west near Black Carts there is a section of consolidated Wall about 140m long. The south face averages 1.2m in height and the north face 1.9m. Turret 29a is located along this section of Wall. The length of Wall near Black Carts and the turret are in the care of the Secretary of State. The wall ditch survives intermittently as a well preserved feature throughout this section. There is little trace of it above ground through the gardens of Chesters house, however it will survive as a buried feature. At Walwick, houses and gardens have been built over the line of the Wall. Beyond Walwick the ditch is visible on the ground as a depression partly overgrown by scrub and small trees. It averages about 1.7m in depth, though it reaches a maximum of 3.1m in places. The upcast mound from the ditch, known as the glacis, has been mostly ploughed out. However, it does survive well east of milecastle 29 where it reaches a height of 3.5m. The exact location of milecastle 28 is not yet confirmed. The scarp cited as being part of the milecastle platform by the Ordnance Survey is too far south of the line of the Wall and looks to be early modern in date. The predicted location, based on the usual spacing, would be where the B6318 changes direction as it enters Walwick from the east. Milecastle 29, or Tower Tye, survives as a series of clearly defined robber trenches on all sides. According to Hodgson, who investigated the milecastle during 1840, the dimensions were found to be 50.4m north-south by 46.4m east-west. As at milecastle 25 there are traces of an external ditch. The remains of the milecastle are buried below grassland. The precise location of turret 27b has not yet been confirmed. However, its predicted location, on the basis of the usual spacing, is in the grounds of Chesters house. It may survive as a buried feature. Similarly the precise location of turret 28a has not yet been confirmed. However, its predicted location, on the basis of the usual spacing, is about 250m west of Archway Cottage near Walwick Hall. It is considered to survive as a buried feature below the grassland. Again the precise location of turret 28b has not yet been confirmed, though it is expected to be positioned about 225m east of the road which runs north to join the B6320. This turret is also considered to survive as a buried feature below the grassland. Turret 29a, or Black Carts, survives well as an upstanding feature. It is located about 100m east of the minor road to Simonburn with wide views to the north, east and south. It was excavated in 1873 and again in 1971 before it was consolidated. Internally the turret measures 3.45m by 3.4m and is of a type thought to have been built by the twentieth legion. The turret is in the care of the Secretary of State along with the section of narrow wall which abuts the broad wall wings of the turret on both sides. The course of the Roman road known as the Military Way, which ran along the corridor between the Wall and the vallum linking turrets, milecastles and forts, is not yet known with certainty. It does not survive as a feature visible on the ground. However, according to Horsley writing in 1732, the Military Way in this section followed the line of the north mound of the vallum except for where it veered towards milecastles. The present B6318 road overlies the north mound of the vallum, and therefore remains of the Military Way may survive below the modern surface. The vallum is visible as an upstanding earthwork throughout much of this section, though in the stretch between Chesters and Towertie Plantation it has been largely ploughed out. Beyond Walwick the north mound of the vallum is overlain by the B6318 road. Here the vallum ditch averages between 1.5m and 2m in depth while the south mound averages about 2m in height except for where it has been reduced by ploughing. All road surfaces, road signs, English Heritage fixtures and fittings, field and property boundaries, and buildings within the area of the monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them 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: 26052

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hodgson, J, A History of Northumberland, Part II, Volume III, (1840), 279
Horsley, J, Britannia Romana, (1732), 145
Charlesworth, D, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in A Re-Examination Of Two Turrets On Hadrian's Wall, , Vol. 5 ser,1, (1973), 97-98

End of official listing