Beaumont motte castle and section of Hadrian's Wall in wall mile 70 including turret 70a
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 20-Oct-2019 at 01:32:38.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Carlisle (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- NY 34811 59285
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.
Motte castles are medieval fortifications introduced into Britain by the Normans. They comprise a large conical mound of earth or rubble, the motte, originally surmounted by a palisade and a stone or timber tower. Mottes acted as garrison forts during offensive military operations, as strongholds, and, in many cases, as aristocratic residences and as centres of local or royal administration. Built in towns, villages and open countryside, motte castles generally occupied strategic positions dominating their immediate locality and, as a result, are the most visually impressive monuments of the early post-Conquest period surviving in the modern landscape. As one of a restricted range of early post-Conquest monuments, they are particularly important for the study of Norman Britain and the development of the feudal system. Despite construction of a 12th century church and churchyard on the summit of the mound, Beaumont motte survives reasonably well. It is the lowest of the medieval castles which lined the Eden Valley and was of strategic importance in controlling movement along the river valley. More important, however, was the role it played in imposing and demonstrating the new post-Conquest feudal order on the area. Limited excavation in the churchyard extension to the west of the motte in 1928 found evidence of the buried remains of Hadrian's Wall, and further evidence of the wall foundations, including the foundations of turret 70a, will exist beneath the motte.
The monument includes Beaumont motte castle, beneath which are the buried
remains of a length of Hadrian's Wall and a turret, 70a. The site is
strategically situated on a local high point overlooking the River Eden and
lies in Beaumont village beneath St Mary's Church and part of the churchyard.
The motte is oval-shaped and measures approximately 45m north-south by 40m east-west and is up to 2m high. Beneath the motte there are the foundations of a turf section of Hadrian's Wall; an excavation in the churchyard's western extension a few metres to the west of the motte in 1928 proved the existence of these remains. It is also known that Hadrian's Wall changed alignment on the elevated ground beneath the motte. The Wall approached this high point on an approximate north west-south east alignment. On reaching the summit it swung 36 degrees to the west to follow an east-west alignment. At this angle turret 70a was constructed and its remains will also exist below the motte.
The motte castle is thought to have been constructed by the le Brun family during the 12th century. In 1306 Sir Richard le Brun was lord of Beaumont but removed his residence to Drumburgh Castle, for which he received a licence to crenellate in 1307. However, it is probable that the motte had been abandoned shortly before this date for it is known that Sir Elias de Thirwall had been appointed rector of St Mary's Church in 1296. The church was restored during the 18th and 19th centuries. The church is a Listed Building Grade II* and the churchyard wall south of the church is Listed Grade II.
St Mary's Church, the churchyard wall, and all graves, headstones, paths, steps and gates 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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
St Mary's, Beaumont
Breeze, D, Dobson, B, Hadrian's Wall, (1976), 36-7
'Journal of Roman Studies' in Journal of Roman Studies, , Vol. 18, (1928), 196
Curwen, J F, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. Extra Ser.' in Castles and Towers of Cumb, West and Lancs N of the Sands, , Vol. XIII, (1913), 38
DOE, List of Buildings of Historic & Architectural Interest,
Leach, P.E., MPP Single Monument Class Descriptions - Motte & Bailey Castles, (1988)
SMR No. 427, Cumbria SMR, Beaumont, (1984)
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