Hadrian's Wall and vallum between the B6321 and Sunnybrae at Halton Shields, in wall miles 18 and 19


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017534

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 B6321 and Sunnybrae at Halton Shields, in wall miles 18 and 19
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Matfen

District: Northumberland (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Whittington

National Grid Reference: NZ 02781 68574


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, vallum and their associated features between the B6321 and Sunnybrae at Halton Shields, survive as a series of buried and upstanding remains. Significant information on the function of the remains and the development of the frontier system over time will be preserved.


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


The monument includes the section of Hadrian's Wall, vallum and their associated features between the B6321 in the east and Sunnybrae at Halton Shields in the west. This section of the corridor occupies an east facing slope for most of its length with views to the north and east, but more restricted outlooks to the south and west. The Wall survives as a buried feature below the surface of the B6318 road. The wall ditch survives as an extant earthwork to the north of the road throughout this section except where it is overlain by access crossings. The average depth of the ditch is about 1.5m; however it reaches a maximum depth of 3m in places. For most of its length the ditch has a width of 12m. An open drain runs along the base of the ditch eastwards from East Wallhouses for 500m. Milecastle 19 is located 150m east of Matfen Piers on an east facing slope. It survives as a turf covered platform 0.15m high and measuring 27.8m east-west by 17m north-south. Excavation of the milecastle took place in 1931 and uncovered an altar dedicated to `..the Mothers..'. Turret 19a is located 270m west of Matfen Piers below the B6318 road at the crest of an east facing slope. There are no upstanding remains apart from a 5m stretch of rough walling, 0.8m high contained within a hedge. Turret 19a was excavated in 1932 when it was found to be well preserved with its door located in its south west corner. The excavation also revealed that it had been dismantled early in the third century AD. Turret 19b survives as a buried feature located 170m east of the minor road which links Clarewood with the B6318. An excavation in 1932 produced many finds including a small altar. Unusually, the turret was bonded mainly with clay rather than mortar. The door was again located in the south west corner. This turret was found to have been abandoned at the turn of the second century AD. The 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 not yet confirmed in this section of the corridor. The vallum runs straight throughout this section on the same alignment as its neighbouring sections. It survives as an upstanding earthwork in varying states of preservation throughout the length of this section. The north and south mounds reach a maximum height of 0.8m while the ditch has a maximum depth of 0.6m. Piers Lodge is totally excluded from the scheduling. All buildings, field boundaries, road surfaces and road signs are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath 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: 26044

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Birley, , Brewis, , Charlton, , 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Excavations On Hadrian's Wall Between Matfen Piers And Halton..., , Vol. 4 ser,10, (1933), 99
Birley, , Brewis, , Charlton, , 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Excavations On Hadrian's Wall Between Matfen Piers And Halton..., , Vol. 4 ser,10, (1933), 98-99
Birley, , Brewis, , Charlton, , 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Excavations On Hadrian's Wall Between Matfen Piers And Halton..., , Vol. 4 ser,10, (1933), 98

End of official listing