Hadrian's Wall and vallum between Birky Lane at Walby and the east side of the M6 in wall miles 62 and 63


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Hadrian's Wall and vallum between Birky Lane at Walby and the east side of the M6 in wall miles 62 and 63
© 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.

Carlisle (District Authority)
Stanwix Rural
National Grid Reference:
NY 42812 59342

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 Birky Lane at Walby and the M6 survive well 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 vallum and their associated features between the west side of Birky Lane at Walby in the east and the east side of the M6 motorway in the west. Hadrian's Wall survives as a buried feature throughout this section with no remains visible above ground except for a low amorphous turf covered mound at Brunstock Park. However, a geophysical survey in 1981 and trial excavations by the Cumbria and Lancashire Archaeological Unit in 1989 have confirmed the course of the Wall at various points along this section. The wall ditch survives intermittently as an upstanding earthwork in this section. At Brunstock Park the ditch is 8m-9m wide and 1.2m deep. It is cut in the east by a tractor crossing. Excavations were carried out here by Haverfield in 1894. Approximately 120m west of Walby Hall excavations by Goodburn in advance of the laying of a gas pipeline in 1975 encountered the ditch which measured 10.5m wide and 3.7m deep. Elsewhere the ditch is silted up but can be traced as a very faint depression in the fields, 0.15m deep. A geophysical survey in 1981 has shown that the wall ditch runs fractionally north west of its mapped line in two transects east of the electricity pylon line. Milecastle 63 probably survives as a buried feature. A geophysical survey in 1981 produced strong indications that it was located at a position WNW of the ninety degree bend in Birky Lane south of the poultry houses. The site has not been excavated so this location has not yet been confirmed to be that of milecastle 63. The exact locations of turrets 62a, 62b, 63a and 63b have not yet been confirmed. They are expected to be located at the usual spacings between the milecastles, approximately 500m apart. The position 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, has not yet been confirmed throughout this section. The only part of it which is known is a short section found during excavation by Haverfield in 1894 approximately 80m west of the minor road between Houghton Hall and the B6264 road, 40m south of the extant wall ditch. The excavation revealed a denuded road, 6.5m wide, flanked by small side ditches. Elsewhere its remains survive as buried features. The vallum survives as slight earthwork visible on the ground in Brunstock Park. The broad line of the ditch averages 0.4m deep and the ploughed down north and south mounds stand 0.2m high. Excavation of part of the vallum was carried out here by Haverfield in 1894. Elsewhere in this section its remains survive as buried features with no remains visible above ground. However, its course has been confirmed through geophysical survey in 1981 and in 1991. The various transects show that between Walby and the `pinch' where the Wall and vallum are closest, the actual course of the vallum lies slightly to the north of where the course is depicted on Ordnance Survey maps. Excavations by Goodburn in 1975 in advance of the laying of a gas pipeline south west of Walby Hall located the vallum ditch 36m to the north of the line shown on the Ordnance Survey maps. All field boundaries, the electricity pylon and road and track surfaces within the area of the monument 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.

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Books and journals
Geophysical Surveys of Bradford, , Report on Geophysical Survey: Hadrian's Wall, (1991)
Goodburn, R, 'Britannia' in Roman Britain in 1975, , Vol. 7, (1976), 310
Haverfield, F, 'TCWAAS' in Report of the Cumberland Excavation Committee 1894, (1895), 453-466
Haverfield, F, 'TCWAAS' in Report of the Cumberland Excavation Committee 1894, (1895), 459
Cumbria and Lancashire Archaeological Unit, Proposed Ethylene Pipeline, Grangemouth to Stanlow..., 1989, private unpubl/d report for Shell UK
Geophysics 24/1981 unpublished, Gater, J, Ancient Monuments Laboratory Report 3508, (1981)
Geophysics 24/1981, Gater, J, Ancient Monuments Laboratory Report 350B, (1981)


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.

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