The vallum and a British settlement between the field boundary west of turret 37a and the road to Steel Rigg car park, in wall miles 37, 38 and 39


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010972

Date first listed: 12-Dec-1928

Date of most recent amendment: 14-Jul-1997


Ordnance survey map of The vallum and a British settlement between the field boundary west of turret 37a and the road to Steel Rigg car park, in wall miles 37, 38 and 39
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Bardon Mill

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Henshaw


National Grid Reference: NY 76692 67307


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. The Romans constructed their frontier system in an area which already had an established native population. The imposition of the Wall into their lands must have had a significant impact on the native inhabitants of the area. The nature and extent of this impact, however, remains a matter of much debate. The remains of several native settlements lie very close to the Wall line, on occasion within the defensive system. These generally take the form of one or more hut circles, usually located within an enclosure. They are interpreted as small farmsteads occupied by family groups. Those immediately adjacent to the frontier system are unlikely to have been occupied whilst the Wall was in use and hence would pre-date the Roman presence here. Whether such settlements were deliberately cleared or were already abandoned has yet to be ascertained.

The vallum and associated features, including the British settlement, between the field boundary west of turret 37a and the road to Steel Rigg car park survive well as a series of upstanding and buried 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 vallum and the Milking Gap native British settlement between the field boundary west of turret 37a in the east and the road to Steel Rigg car park in the west. The vallum survives well as an upstanding earthwork throughout most of this section. Where extant the north mound averages 1.7m high, the south mound 1m high and the ditch 1.2m deep. Between High Shield and Twice Brewed the B6318 road overlies parts of the vallum. However, where it runs along the line of the vallum the road lies on the south berm, which has resulted in some disturbance to the monument. To the south of Hotbank Crags the remains of the vallum have been reduced and the ditch silted up, though its course can still be traced. A native British settlement is situated on the west side of Milking Gap between Hadrian's Wall and the vallum. It is located in a dip on the springline at the base of the slope to the south of Hotbank Crags. It survives as a series of upstanding stone remains and buried features. The settlement itself includes a rectilinear enclosure which has been subdivided around a central stone hut which has an entrance in its east side. The enclosure walls are made with double faced boulders and average 2m wide and 0.8m high. The central hut has a diameter of 7m and has internally faced walls 1.3m wide and 0.4m high. The remains of other huts survive to the south and east of the central hut with walls less than 1m wide and 0.25m high. Excavation in 1937 by Kilbride-Jones discovered pottery which showed that the settlement was occupied during the second century AD. Around the settlement are a number of low mounds and cairns which may be contemporary or earlier. These average between 0.2m and 0.5m high. Fragmentary remains of walls around the site are probably the remains of an associated field system. These walls are made from boulders and average 1.2m wide and 0.4m high. All field boundaries, road surfaces, sign posts and stiles are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath all these features 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: 26061

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Kilbride-Jones, H E, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in The Excavation of a Native Settlement at Milking Gap High Shield, , Vol. 4 ser,15, (1938)

End of official listing