Hadrian's Wall and vallum between the field boundary at Brown Dikes and the field boundary east of turret 34a in wall miles 32, 33 and 34


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010963

Date first listed: 12-Dec-1928

Date of most recent amendment: 14-Jul-1997


Ordnance survey map of Hadrian's Wall and vallum between the field boundary at Brown Dikes and the field boundary east of turret 34a in wall miles 32, 33 and 34
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 23-Jan-2019 at 09:11:49.


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

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Haydon

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Newbrough

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Simonburn


National Grid Reference: NY 82560 70612


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 vallum and their associated features between the field boundary at Brown Dikes and the field boundary east of turret 34a survive well as a series of buried and upstanding remains. 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, vallum and their associated features between the field boundary at Brown Dikes in the east and the field boundary east of turret 34a in the west. This section occupies a predominantly level stretch of ground, except at the west end where the Wall occupies the escarpment of the Whin Sill. The upstanding remains of Hadrian's Wall, the milecastle and the turrets from the drain west of turret 33a to the field boundary east of turret 34a are Listed Grade I. Hadrian's Wall survives as a series of upstanding and buried features throughout this section. It survives as a buried feature beneath the B6318 road at the east end of this section. Immediately east of milecastle 33 and beyond to the west end of this section the Wall survives either as a low turf covered bank, averaging 0.4m high, or as a series of robber trenches up to 0.4m deep. The north Wall-face west of the gateway of milecastle 33 is exposed for 16.7m. This unconsolidated stretch of upstanding wall reaches a maximum height of 1.5m. Either side of turret 33b the Wall is exposed and consolidated for a total length of 15.1m. Here the Wall measures 1.95m wide and has a maximum height of 1m. The wall ditch and its associated upcast mound, known as the glacis, survive well in this section as a series of earthworks. In the east part of this section the ditch survives to an average depth of 3m while the glacis attains a maximum height of 2.7m in places. Beyond turret 33b the ditch is cut partly into the bedrock. It measures up to 13m in width and 2.2m in depth. The glacis here is seen intermittently as an irregular spread over the craggy scarp. Milecastle 33 at Shield on the Wall survives mostly as a turf covered platform visible on the ground. The north gateway and parts of the north wall are exposed as upstanding masonry up to 1.2m in height. Fragments of the south gateway are also exposed. It was partly excavated during 1884 by Clayton. Milecastle 34 is located within a small walled plantation about 430m east of turret 34a. It survives as a buried feature beneath the walls of the plantation and the wooded interior. It was noted by the antiquarian Horsley in this location during the 1730s. Milecastle 34 is in the care of the Secretary of State together with the length of wall, wall ditch and vallum to the east, as far as the point where the B6318 road crosses the vallum ditch. To the west of the milecastle the Wall alone is in the care of the Secretary of State to the end of this monument. The precise location of turret 32b has not yet been confirmed. However, on the basis of the usual spacing, it is expected to lie about 450m east of milecastle 33. As with turret 32b the precise location of turret 33a has not yet been identified. On the basis of the usual spacing it is expected to lie about 450m west of milecastle 33. Turret 33b survives well as an upstanding feature. It is consolidated and in the care of the Secretary of State. It was first located by Simpson in 1913. It measures 3.95m east-west by 3.9m north-south. The walls are 0.9m thick and have a maximum height of 1.1m. The entrance was at the east end of the south wall, but this was subsequently blocked. The turret was excavated during 1968 and 1970 when it was found that its occupation had ceased before the end of the second century AD. The Wall had then been rebuilt across the turret recess. 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, milecastes and forts, was carried on the north mound of the vallum in the east half of this section. Its buried remains survive below grassland east of milecastle 33, until the B6318 road coincides with the north mound of the vallum where it lies below the modern road surface. South of turret 33b the Military Way leaves the north mound of the vallum and follows a course parallel to that of the Wall. Here it survives as a distinct linear mound up to 6m wide and up to 0.3m high. The vallum survives well as an upstanding earthwork visible on the ground throughout this section. It runs roughly parallel with the line of the Wall until south of turret 33b where it turns to the south west and follows the tail of the escarpment. In the east half of this section the vallum ditch averages 3.5m in depth, while the north and south mounds average 1.5m in height. A number of crossings are still extant here at 42m intervals. West of milecastle 33 the ditch averages 2m in depth and the north and south mounds 1.2m in height. West of turret 33b the ditch is partly rock cut and reaches a maximum depth of 2.5m. All road surfaces, English Heritage fixtures and fittings, all field boundaries except those constructed directly on the line of Hadrian's Wall, and buildings within the area of the monument are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath 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: 26056

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Horsley, J, Britannia Romana, (1732), 146
Miket, R, Maxfield, V, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in The Excavation Of Turret 33b (Coesike), , Vol. 4 ser,50, (1972), 145-178

End of official listing