Hadrian's Wall between Port Carlisle and Bowness-on-Solway in wall miles 78 and 79
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Nov-2019 at 19:28:15.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Allerdale (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- NY 23225 62296
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 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.
Whilst all the forts added to the Wall are broadly similar in size, no two are
exactly alike and there is no standard internal layout. However, when
originally built, all forts enclosed a fairly standard range of buildings
including a headquarters building, commandant's house, hospital, barracks,
stables, granaries and workshops. The size and number of barracks blocks has,
in the past, been used to determine the size and type of military unit
stationed there. This is a difficult exercise which remains the subject of
much debate. The area outside the fort was put to a variety of uses. There was
usually a bath house and normally a number of temples, burial grounds and
other official establishments such as lodging houses for official visitors.
Over time sprawling external settlements known as vici grew up around many
forts. These housed a range of people and activities attracted by the military
presence. Some of the inhabitants may have been families of troops stationed
on the Wall, although it was not until the third century that soldiers on
active duty were officially permitted to marry. Others may have been retired
soldiers and their families. Traders and merchants are also thought to have
set up workshops and shops in the vici. The most common type of building found
here, as well as in other areas around forts, was the long narrow strip
building. These appear to have been used for both domestic and commercial
Hadrian's Wall and its associated structures between Field View Lane, Port Carlisle, and Bowness-on-Solway survive well as buried remains. Significant information on the function of the remains and the development of the frontier system over time will be preserved.
This monument includes the section of Hadrian's Wall between Field View Lane,
Port Carlisle, in the west and Bowness-on-Solway in the east, in wall miles 78
Hadrian's Wall runs westwards along the crest of a raised beach from Port Carlisle for 700m and then turns north west to run towards Bowness-on-Solway. West of the site of milecastle 79, for a distance of 200m, the remains of the Wall lie beneath a field boundary visible as a bank 1m high surmounted by a hedge. The indications are that the Wall survives as upstanding remains of the core and probably also the faces several courses high with undisturbed tumble on either side beneath the earth bank. At the west end of this length the Wall is exposed either side of a modern field gate, standing up to four courses high with the footing flags exposed across the gateway. However, around the site of milecastle 79 and west of the north westerly turn in direction the Wall survives as a buried feature with no visible indications on the ground. The Wall in this sector was initially constructed in turf, which was replaced on the same line in the second half of the second century AD by the Stone Wall. It has not yet been determined whether the Wall was fronted by a ditch in this section. The proximity of the coast would have made a ditch superfluous and a ditch of the normal wall ditch proportions would have been liable to tidal flooding.
Milecastle 79 is situated 350m west of Field View Lane. Excavations of the milecastle were undertaken in 1949 by Richmond and Gillam. Like all milecastles in the western part of Hadrian's Wall, it was originally constructed with turf ramparts and timber gateways and internal buildings. It measured 14.9m east to west and 12.5m north to south internally. This was replaced at some time in the second half of the second century by a stone built milecastle which measured 17.7m internally. The gates of the stone milecastle were found to have been reduced in size after the initial construction. A timber framed building is also known to have stood in the eastern half of the stone milecastle.
The exact position of Turret 79a has not yet been confirmed. On the basis of the usual spacing it is expected to be located approximately 400m west of milecastle 79 where the Wall changes direction. Turret 79a is expected to survive as buried remains.
Turret 79b is situated approximately 250m south east of the houses at the east end of Bowness-on-Solway in the field known as Jeffrey Croft. Its site is indicated by a very slight platform, visible on the ground. It was partly excavated in 1934 by Simpson, Richmond and MacIntyre to confirm whether the Turf Wall extended westwards as far as the west end of Hadrian's Wall at Bowness. The south wall was found to be 1.12m wide and the west wall, 0.96m wide, was traced for 4.64m from the south west corner. It was constructed on a foundation of two layers of cobbles sandwiched in red clay, with three courses of masonry surviving above. The difference in thickness of the south and west walls and the evidence that it was originally built as a free-standing tower abutted by the Turf Wall demonstrated it to be the type of turret characteristic of the Turf Wall, and the most westerly turret known on Hadrian's Wall. When the Wall was rebuilt in stone, the Turf Wall turrets, which were originally built in stone themselves, were retained with the new wall.
The 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, has not been confirmed in this section. It is expected to run parallel to the Wall a few metres from its south face.
All field boundaries and buildings are excluded from the scheduling, although 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
Richmond, , Gillam, , 'Transactions of the Cumbl/d and Westml/d Antiq and Arc Society' in Milecastle 79 (Solway), , Vol. 52, (1952)
Simpson, , Richmond, , MacIntyre, , 'Trans. Cumbl/d and Westml/d Antiq and Arc Society' in The Stone Wall, Turf Wall and Vallum West of Burgh By Sands, , Vol. 35, (1935), 217-8
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