Hadrian's Wall and vallum between Banks Green Cottage and the road to Lanercost at Banks and the road to Garthside in wall miles 52, 53 and 54
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Carlisle (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- NY 55485 64413
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 vallum and their associated features between Banks Green Cottage and the road to Lanercost at Banks and the road to Garthside survive as a series of buried and upstanding remains. In addition this section contains a realignment of the replacement Stone Wall to the south of the Turf Wall and a turret built to replace the one that had collapsed due to subsidence, as well as a section of Wall at Hare Hill standing 3.6m high. 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 Banks Green Cottage and the road to Lanercost at
Banks in the east and the minor road to Garthside in the west.
Hadrian's Wall survives as a buried feature throughout most of this section
overlain in parts by the modern road, fields given to pasture, gardens and
field walls. A few remains are visible above ground including the well
preserved section of Wall at Hare Hill. Here the core of the Wall is original
but part of the face has been reconstructed. It stands to a maximum height of
3.6m and is 2.3m wide. It is consolidated and in the care of the Secretary of
State. West of Burtholme Beck there is a length of mortared wall core which
stands 1.7m high. Further west there is a shorter stretch of wall core on the
same hedge line, 1.3m high. To the east of turret 54a the Wall survives as a
substantial turf covered bank at the base of a mature hedge. The wall ditch
survives intermittently as an earthwork in this section. It is best preserved
between Hare Hill and Haytongate where it averages 2m deep throughout. It has
a maximum depth of 3.2m in parts. Elsewhere the ditch averages 1.8m where
extant, but otherwise lies buried below the turf cover or is visible as a
slight depression. The ditch upcast mound, usually referred to as the glacis,
survives in places to the north of the ditch as an amorphous low mound.
Milecastle 53 is situated at the base of an east facing slope on the west bank
of the Banks Burn. It survives as a buried feature partly beneath and
surrounding the house known as Banks Burn with no remains visible above
ground. Excavation by Simpson in 1932 found that the milecastle had been much
robbed of its masonry and the original floor had been removed so that no
internal buildings remained. The north wall abutted Hadrian's Wall and some
turf work of the earlier turf milecastle remained in the north east corner. It
measured 23.5m north to south by 22.2m.
Milecastle 54 is situated on a west facing slope overlooking the Burtholme
Beck 230m to the west. It survives as a slight turf covered platform with its
remains buried below the surface. Excavations in 1933-4 by Simpson and
Richmond showed that the milecastle measured 23.8m north to south by 19.85m
across. The western barrack block comprised two rooms, one fitted with stone
benches, a hearth and millstone. Below the stone milecastle were found remains
of the earlier turf milecastle built in beaten clay.
Turret 53a is situated almost on the crest of Craggle Hill with wide views in
all directions. It survives as a slight platform, 0.15m high, at the edge of
the field. Its remains are buried below the turf cover with nothing visible
above ground. First located in 1854-5, it was later partly excavated by
Simpson in 1932. It measures 4.46m in length internally being rectilinear in
plan. Unusually this turret projects 1m north of the Wall. On excavation the
interior was found to be full of ashes.
Turret 53b is situated on a west facing slope about 200m east of Haytongate.
It survives as a slight turf covered platform on the Wall line, 0.1m high. It
was located and excavated in 1932 by Simpson who found it was built from red
Turret 54a is situated on an east facing slope overlooking Burtholme Beck to
the east. It survives as a buried feature below the turf cover with no remains
visible above ground. It was located and excavated in 1933 by Simpson who
found that there were two independent turrets one behind the other. The
excavations showed that the earlier Turf Wall turret had partly collapsed into
the wall ditch, and so the decision had been taken to construct a new free-
standing turret, also of Turf Wall type, immediately to the south. The Turf
Wall and its ditch were reconstructed slightly to the north of the former
line. Later, when the Turf Wall was replaced in stone, the new Stone Wall was
connected to the second turret, thus leaving a short length where the lines of
the Turf and Stone walls diverge.
The exact course of the Roman road known as the Military Way, which ran along
the corridor between the Wall and vallum linking turrets, milecastles and
forts, is not yet confirmed in this section. The only traces visible on the
ground are two stretches of a low slight swelling, one west of milecastle 54
and the other about 200m east of turret 53b. Elsewhere it survives as a buried
feature with no remains visible above ground.
The vallum survives as an earthwork visible on the ground throughout most of
this section. The ditch averages between 1.6m and 2m deep where extant.
Elsewhere it is silted up and is overlain by the turf cover. The north mound
averages between 0.3m and 0.9m high and the south mound 0.3m and 1.3m high.
The vallum was trenched in two places on Hare Hill, first in 1894 and again in
1903 by Haverfield. The north and south mounds were found together with the
The supposed Roman camp shown to the immediate south of the vallum in Abbey
Park Wood is no longer identified as Roman. Only its northern section where it
overlies the vallum is included in the scheduling.
All field boundaries, English Heritage fixtures and fittings, road and track
surfaces and buildings including the house known as Banks Burn 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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Simpson, F G, 'TCWAAS' in Excavations on Hadrian's Wall, , Vol. 33, (1933), 267-70
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