Hadrian's Wall between Port Carlisle and Bowness-on-Solway in wall miles 78 and 79


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Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Hadrian's Wall between Port Carlisle and Bowness-on-Solway in wall miles 78 and 79
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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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 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 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 purposes.

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 and 79.

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.

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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

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