Hadrian's Wall and associated features between the boundary east of turret 34a and the field boundary west of milecastle 36 in wall miles 34, 35 and 36
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 22-Nov-2019 at 23:16:44.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
- Bardon Mill
- Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
- Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
- National Park:
- National Grid Reference:
- NY 80440 70125
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
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 features between the field boundary east of turret 34a and the field boundary west of milecastle 36 survive as a series of buried and upstanding remains. Significant information on the development of the frontier system over time will be preserved.
The monument includes the section of Hadrian's Wall and its associated
features between the field boundary east of turret 34a in the east and the
field boundary west of milecastle 36 in the west. This section of the Wall
occupies the crest and slopes along Sewingshields Crags.
The upstanding remains of Hadrian's Wall, the milecastle and turrets are
Listed Grade I, from turret 34a to turret 35a.
The Wall survives intermittently as an upstanding feature throughout this
section. West of milecastle 35 the Wall survives as an irregular turf-covered
mound, averaging 2.5m wide and 0.6m high. Either side of milecastle 35 the
remains of the Wall are upstanding and have been consolidated. At 2.3m wide it
is of narrow wall type, though it has been set on a broad wall foundation, 3m
wide. It stands to a maximum height of 1.5m. Along the crest of Sewingshields
Crags the upstanding sections of consolidated Wall are divided by sections of
the Wall which survive as turf-covered mounds, averaging 2.5m wide and 1m
high. Where the Wall changes direction to a north-south alignment it survives
as a buried feature beneath a modern field wall made from reused Roman
masonry. This field wall overlies the north face of the Wall. The nearly 3km
of Wall around Sewing Shields farm is in the care of the Secretary of State.
For most of this section there is no outer ditch, as the Wall occupies the
crest of the steep outcropping bedrock of Sewingshields Crags and a rock cut
ditch would have been superfluous. At Busy Gap a section of ditch was cut
which survives as a feature, 12m wide and up to 1.2m deep. West of milecastle
36 another shorter section of ditch was cut, now measuring 2.1m in depth and
10m in width.
To the north of the Wall, at the foot of Kings Hill crags is a narrow linear
earthwork, up to 7m wide which has been identified as a prehistoric field
Milecastle 35 is located on the east facing slope of Sewingshields Crags. It
survives as an upstanding masonry feature which has been consolidated and is
now in the care of the Secretary of State. It measures 18.3m north-south by
15.2m east-west. The walls are up to 3.2m in width. Within the milecastle
several phases of buildings are preserved in the ground plan.
Milecastle 36 occupies the summit of Kings Hill. It survives as a turf-covered
feature. The east and west walls are indicated by robber trenches up to 0.5m
deep. The featureless interior of the milecastle is overlain by stone which
has tumbled onto it from the adjacent Wall. The milecastle was excavated
during 1946 and was found to have narrow walls. The north gate had been
reconstructed in a post-Hadrianic period, probably around AD 180. The south
gate had been destroyed.
The well preserved remains of turret 34a, which are in the care of the
Secretary of State, are located on an east facing slope. It was located in
1912 by Simpson and was partly excavated during 1947 and 1958. The site was
again excavated during 1971 for the Department of the Environment and was
shown to measure 3.55m north-south by 3.9m east-west. It had a door in the
east side and a possible ladder platform in the south west corner. It has
narrow walls measuring 0.95m wide. Most of the pottery recovered from the
turret is of second century AD date. In the medieval period the turret walls
were partly reduced and the south face of Hadrian's Wall was continued
across the turret to make a continuous rampart walk. Medieval pottery sherds,
were also found which suggests that the rampart walk was possibly in use at
the same time as Sewingshields Castle, which lies about 150m to the north
The exact location of turret 34b is not known with certainty as there are no
surviving upstanding remains. On the basis of the usual spacing, the turret
would be expected to be located beneath the Sewing Shields farm complex.
Turret 35a is located on the summit of Sewingshields Crags. It survives as an
upstanding feature. The masonry has been consolidated and it is in the care of
the Secretary of State. The turret was located in 1913. Excavations took place
during 1947 and 1958 when it was found to have narrow walls, 1m wide, and a
door in the east side, 0.95m wide. The turret was shown to have been abandoned
during the Roman period, though it is not certain when. Its internal
measurements are 3.7m east-west by 2.4m north-south; the walls are up to 0.75m
Turret 35b is located to the north of Busy Gap on the west facing slope of
Sewingshields Crags. It survives as a slight turf-covered platform measuring
5.5m from north west to south east by 5.5m north east to south west. Its
interior is partly overlain by stone which has tumbled onto it from the
adjacent Wall. The turret was located during 1913. Part excavation during
1946 showed that the turret had narrow walls and a door in the east side.
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 survives as a turf-covered linear mound throughout most of this section.
It is visible as a disturbed causeway averaging 5m wide with traces of a stone
revetment on the south side. It was partly excavated between 1978 and 1980
when it was shown to have a damaged metalled surface 4m wide, a stone
revetment on the south scarp, and to have been overlain by later roadways.
Branch roads survive linking the Military Way with the south gates of both
milecastles 35 and 36. At milecastle 35 the low, uneven turf-covered mound of
the causeway is up to 5.5m wide and 0.2m high. At milecastle 36 the turf-
covered causeway is up to 4m wide and 0.3m high.
About 20m west of turret 34a a small rectangular enclosure, visible as
an upstanding earthwork, abuts the south side of the wall mound. Its
internal measurements are 22m east-west by 6.5m north-south. Its walls survive
up to 0.4m high and 2.5m wide with the east end apparently being open. No
internal features are visible. This structure is probably the remains of a
medieval shieling. Shielings were small enclosures used as seasonal stock
compounds during upland grazing in the summer months.
On the north west side of Busy Gap there are the remains of a triangular
shaped enclosure, known as the King's Wicket. It survives as a series
of earthworks which include a turf-covered inner mound and traces of an
external silted ditch. The enclosure is known to be a later feature which used
the Wall line as its east side. It is considered to be early medieval in date
and it has been interpreted as a drovers' stock compound, possibly as a
gathering point for sheltering stock when they were being driven off the
common land and down to the lower pastures.
The farm buildings and dwellings at Sewing Shields are totally excluded from
the scheduling as the survival of the Wall here has not been confirmed.
All field boundaries, except those constructed direcltly on the line of
Hadrian's Wall, English Heritage fixtures and fittings and road/track
surfaces 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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
'Journal of Roman Studies' in Roman Britain in 1947, , Vol. 38, (1948), 84
Charlesworth, D, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in A Re-Examination Of Two Turrets On Hadrian's Wall, , Vol. 5 ser, 1, (1973), 99
Haigh, D, Savage, M, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Sewingshields, , Vol. 5 ser,12, (1984), 68
Woodfield, C, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Six Turrets On Hadrian's Wall, , Vol. 4 ser,43, (1965), 151-161
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.
End of official listing