Hadrian's Wall and vallum between the field boundary west of Coombe Crag and Banks Green Cottage and the road to Lanercost at Banks in wall miles 51 and 52


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1010996

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 west of Coombe Crag and Banks Green Cottage and the road to Lanercost at Banks in wall miles 51 and 52
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1010996 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 10-Dec-2018 at 04:05:49.


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

County: Cumbria

District: Carlisle (District Authority)

Parish: Burtholme

County: Cumbria

District: Carlisle (District Authority)

Parish: Waterhead

National Grid Reference: NY 57868 64862


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 west of Coombe Crag and Banks Green Cottage and the road to Lanercost at Banks survive as a series of buried and upstanding remains. This section of Wall corridor is of particular significance as it contains three well preserved and upstanding turrets and a signal tower. The archaeological remains, especially the remains of both the Turf and Stone Wall, vallum, and Military Way, contain important information regarding the function and development of the frontier system over time.


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


The monument includes the section of Hadrian's Wall and vallum and their associated features between the field boundary west of Coombe Crag in the east and Banks Green Cottage and the road to Lanercost at Banks in the west. Hadrian's Wall survives mostly as a buried feature throughout this section except for short lengths of exposed Wall either side of the turrets and Pike Hill Tower. Where exposed the Wall measures 2.35m wide and up to 1.25m high. Elsewhere the Wall survives as a buried feature below the surface of the modern road or as a turf covered discontinuous robber trench east of turret 51a. Between turrets 51a and 51b the course of the Wall is overlain by the roadside wall. The wall ditch survives as a well preserved earthwork visible on the ground throughout most of this section. However, it is overlain by the modern road around Banks Post Office and by Leahill farmyard west of turret 51b. Elsewhere the ditch averages between 1.3m and 2.5m in depth. The ditch was trenched in two places opposite Pike Hill Tower by Richmond and Simpson in the 1930s. It was established that the ditch made a double turn around this tower, which is positioned 45 degrees away from the Wall line, indicating that the tower is earlier than the ditch. The ditch upcast mound, usually referred to as the glacis, which lies to the north of the wall ditch has been reduced by ploughing throughout this section. A small stretch of the Wall line to the west of Pike Hill is in the care of the Secretary of State. Milecastle 52 is overlain by Bankshead House, there being no remains visible above the ground surface. It was partly excavated by Simpson and Richmond in 1933-4. This milecastle is exceptionally large, measuring 23.6m north to south by 27.8m east to west internally. The south gate was remodelled in the fourth century AD by the insertion of large stone jambs and the north gate was modified four times. A hypocaust pillar found at the south gate of the milecastle suggests this milecastle could have been more elaborate than usual. It is thought that the larger size of this milecastle is accounted for by the presence of the Pike Hill Tower in this section which meant it was necessary to have a garrison 1.5 times the normal strength because there are three towers in this section rather than the normal two. Two altars were discovered here in 1808, dedicated to the local deity Cocidius, both of which are now at Lanercost Priory. Turret 51a is situated 20m east of the stream known as Piper Sike. It survives as an upstanding stone feature visible on the ground. Its walls stand to a maximum height of 0.8m. Excavations were carried out in 1970 by Charlesworth who discovered the doorway in the east wall and a substantial platform against the north wall. Cooking hearths and rubbish were spread over the rest of the turret. Occupation did not continue later than the second century AD. Turret 51b is situated 120m east of Leahill farm immediately to the north of the modern road. It survives as an upstanding stone feature. Its walls stand to a maximum height of 1.1m. Excavations in 1958 by Woodfield found that the turret measured 4.2m north to south by 4.5m across internally. The turret had been robbed though it still stood nine courses high. A platform was found in the centre of the north side and the doorway was in the east wall. Pike Hill Tower is situated on the highest point along the ridge occupied by the Wall with extensive views in all directions. The turret survives as an exposed stone feature. It is positioned at 45 degrees to the Wall line which zig-zags to accommodate it. Its exceptionally deep foundations suggest that it was higher than the average turret. Consequently this tower is believed to be a signal tower built before the Wall system and later incorporated into it. The tower was partly destroyed in 1870 when the road was drastically lowered. Excavation in 1931 by Simpson revealed the one remaining corner and a ground floor door together with Roman pottery of various dates. Turret 52a, known as Banks East Turret, is situated 170m west of Pike Hill Tower. It survives as an upstanding stone feature. Its walls stand up to 14 courses giving a maximum height of 1.75m. Excavations in 1933 by Simpson and Richmond found remains of the demolished Turf Wall abutting its east wall. It was used continuously until at least the end of the third century AD. The exact location of turret 52b has not yet been confirmed. There are no upstanding remains visible above ground. On the basis of the usual spacing it is expected to survive about 15m east of Glen View below the surface of the modern road. The exact course of the Roman road known as the Military Way, which ran along the corridor between the Wall and the vallum linking the turrets, milecastles and forts, is known intermittently throughout this section where it survives as an earthwork feature. Opposite the disused quarry west of Bankshead Farm the Military Way survives as a terrace, 3m-5m wide, on the north side of an old hedge line. Occasional rises in hedgelines denote traces of its course. The vallum survives intermittently as an upstanding earthwork visible on the ground throughout this section. It is best preserved at the east end of this section where the ditch averages 2.5m deep to the north, and the north and south mounds are nowhere more than 0.6m high. Elsewhere the vallum survives either as a ploughed down scarp up to 0.9m high and the ditch 0.8m deep, or there are no surface traces at all. Excavations in the vicinity of Pike Hill Tower in 1932 by Simpson found the ditch to be rock cut for at least 46m and crossings were noted at 41.5m intervals in the south mound. Excavations in advance of construction work at Banks in 1977 by Austen identified the north edge of the vallum ditch. The remains of turrets 51a, 51b and 52a and Pike Hill Tower are consolidated and in the care of the Secretary of State. The farm buildings at Bankshead are totally excluded from the scheduling. However the ground beneath Bankshead House is included as the house overlies the site of milecastle 52. All field boundaries, other buildings and the horse exercise ring north of Banks House, all English Heritage fixtures and fittings, road and track surfaces are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath them 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: 26075

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Charlesworth, D, 'TCWAAS' in Hadrian's Wall, Turret 51a, , Vol. 73, (1973), 67
Simpson, , Richmond, , 'Transactions of the Cumbl/d and Westml/d Arc and Antiq Soc' in Excavations on Hadrian's Wall, , Vol. 34, (1934), 147
Woodfield, C, 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Six Turrets On Hadrian's Wall, , Vol. 4 ser,43, (1965), 170-200

End of official listing