Hadrian's Wall between Tarraby and Beech Grove, Knowefield in wall miles 64 and 65


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Hadrian's Wall between Tarraby and Beech Grove, Knowefield in wall miles 64 and 65
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Carlisle (District Authority)
Carlisle (District Authority)
Stanwix Rural
National Grid Reference:
NY 40651 57738

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 and its associated features between Tarraby and Beech Grove, Knowefield, survive well as buried remains and will contain significant information on the development of the frontier system over time. The survival of the parade ground is particularly unusual; this being the only one identified along the Wall.


The monument includes the section of Hadrian's Wall and its associated features between the west side of Tarraby in the east and the west edge of Beech Grove, Knowefield in the west. From the high point at Tarraby, the line of the Wall runs downhill across open fields as far as the east end of Tarraby Lane. From here Tarraby Lane follows the line of the Wall westwards as far as the crest of Wall Knowe, where Tarraby Lane veers to the south while the line of the Wall continues in a straight line to where it is crossed by Beech Grove.

Hadrian's Wall survives throughout this length solely as buried remains with no visible remains of the Wall itself above ground. The ditch to the north of the Wall is however visible as a broad shallow depression up to 10m wide and 0.3m deep. The remains of the Wall and ditch were confirmed to survive as buried remains by excavations carried out by Smith in 1976. Up to two courses of the foundations of the Wall together with core were found to survive. There were no remains however of the preceding Turf Wall apart from dispersed turf traces south of the Wall. The 1976 excavations established that there had been pre-Roman cultivation at Wall Knowe, which was shown by a grid of drainage ditches, one of which had been infilled where the Wall crossed it.

The position of Milecastle 65 has been confirmed by geophysical survey followed by a trial excavation at its south west corner in 1976 by Smith and Austen. It is situated on the westward-facing slope 150m west of Tarraby. At least two courses of foundations were found to survive in situ, and the geophysical survey indicated that internal floor or road cobbling survives as buried remains. In plan the milecastle appears to be of `short axis' type, where its length north-south is shorter than its width east-west. There are no upstanding remains of the milecastle above ground and it survives wholly as a buried feature. A Roman altar dedicated to the native god Cocidius who was equated with the Roman god of war, Mars, was found in 1804 when a drain was cut across the line of the Wall 50m east of Milecastle 65, and is now in the Tullie House Museum.

The precise location of turret 65a has not yet been confirmed but on the basis of the usual spacing it is anticipated that it will survive as a buried feature near the crest of Wall Knowe, 250m east of Beech Grove. It is expected to be a Turf Wall-type turret, with four walls, the southern one containing a doorway built into the full width of the Turf Wall and later abutted at each side by the replacement Stone Wall.

The course of the Roman road, known as the Military Way, which ran the length of the Wall corridor connecting forts, milecastles and turrets has not been confirmed in this section. However a metalled road up to 10m wide was identified in the excavations by Smith in 1976 south of and close to the line of the Wall. This road was in use in the medieval period and is shown on a map of 1610, but it may have followed the line of the Roman Military Way, spreading with continued use. This road survives as buried remains.

A dump of clay up to 0.6m deep, laid over an earlier ground surface and sealing plough marks and a military ditch, extending across the dip in the land immediately east of the fort at Stanwix has been interpreted as the parade ground of the fort, which at the height of its use nominally contained 850 auxiliary cavalrymen. The parade ground, which was discovered during excavations in 1992 and 1993 by Carlisle Archaeological Unit, had a cobbled surface. The feature survives below the turf cover as buried remains except for the small area removed in the 1992 excavations.

All field and property boundaries and road surfaces 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
Collingwood, R J, Wright, R P, Roman Inscriptions of Britain, Volume 1 The Inscriptions on Stone, (1956), 619
Esmonde-Cleary, A S, 'Britannia' in Roman Britain in 1993, , Vol. 25, (1994), 263
Smith, G H, 'Britannia' in Excavations near Hadrian's Wall at Tarraby Lane, 1976, , Vol. 9, (1978), 19-57
Smith, G H, 'Britannia' in Excavations near Hadrian's Wall at Tarraby Lane, 1976, , Vol. 9, (1978), 19-57
Smith, G H, 'Britannia' in Excavations near Hadrian's Wall at Tarraby Lane, 1976, , Vol. 9, (1978), 35


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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