Burgh by Sands Roman fort, Beaumont camp, Burgh Castle and Hadrian's Wall from boundary west of churchyard, Beaumont to Burgh Head in wall miles 70 and 71


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Burgh by Sands Roman fort, Beaumont camp, Burgh Castle and Hadrian's Wall from boundary west of churchyard, Beaumont to Burgh Head in wall miles 70 and 71
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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)
Burgh By Sands
National Grid Reference:
NY 33759 59215

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, Burgh Roman fort and a Roman temporary camp from the east end of St Mary's Church at Beaumont to Burgh Head, survive as a series of buried remains. These remains have significant archaeological potential, as confirmed by recent excavations, and will retain information on the development of the frontier works over time. The site of Burgh medieval castle has been confirmed by excavation and the site has been shown to have had an interesting history in its own right involving a sequence of buildings.


The monument includes Hadrian's Wall and its associated features between the field boundary at the west side of the churchyard belonging to St Mary's Church at Beaumont in the east and Burgh Head in Burgh by Sands in the west, as well as Burgh by Sands Roman fort, Beaumont temporary camp south of Hadrian's Wall and the site of a medieval earthwork castle known as Burgh Castle.

Hadrian's Wall survives as a buried feature throughout the whole of this section. Its course in the area of Burgh Castle, south east of Speergarth Holes, has been confirmed by excavation by Hogg in 1950. The wall ditch was also confirmed to survive as a buried feature north of the Wall in the 1950 excavation. In addition a further length of the Wall line was confirmed west of Burgh Castle by geophysical survey in 1991. The results of this survey indicate that there are two lines taken by the Wall, the southern one representing the primary Turf Wall running close to the modern road, while the second line heads north west from Burgh Castle and meets the north east corner of the fort, also identified in the geophysical survey. This more northern line is thought to represent a realignment of the Wall when the fort was built so that the fort lay wholly to the rear of the Wall and did not partly project north of it. This realignment may have been carried out as late as the third century AD. Milecastle 71 survives as a buried feature. Its position was located in 1960 by Bartle although this has not been confirmed since. According to Bartle it is situated south east of the western end of Milldikes Lane. The precise locations of turrets 70b, 71a and 71b have not yet been confirmed. On the basis of the usual spacing, turret 70b is expected to be located about 540m west of St Mary's Church to the south of Milldikes Lane, turret 71a near to the footbridge over Greathill Beck, and turret 71b is probably under the site of Burgh fort in the area of the modern graveyard which is totally excluded from the scheduling. 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 yet been confirmed in this section. A length of road, 8m wide, is known approximately 60m east of the fort from excavations in 1980 by Jones, but it is uncertain if this was the Military Way or another street within the extra-mural civil settlement. A Roman temporary camp has been identified 80m to the south of the west end of Milldikes Lane 40m south of the course of Hadrian's Wall on the gently sloping south facing side of a spur overlooking the Powburgh Beck. Although only the eastern segment of the camp was recorded from crop marks visible on aerial photographs, sufficient remains were identified to allow the full extent of the site to be postulated. The only complete side identified is the east side. The site of the camp is overlain by narrow ridge and furrow, the product of medieval or later cultivation on the site. The Wall fort at Burgh, known to the Romans as Aballava, lies astride the southern of the two lines of Hadrian's Wall. Excavation in 1922 by Collingwood confirmed the position of the east wall and gateway as well as observing the stone footings of barrack blocks. Geophysical survey in 1991 provided further confirmation of the north and east sides of the fort as well as indicating that Hadrian's Wall was realigned to meet the north east corner of the fort. Excavations in 1993 by Flynn confirmed the primary line of the wall ditch at Demesne Farm, 6m wide and 2.2m deep, which was later infilled and buildings associated with the fort constructed on clay and cobble foundations. A Roman altar found at Beaumont in 1934 shows that in the third century the fort was garrisoned by Aurelian Moors. The full extent of the fort is unknown as the west and south sides of its defences have not been confirmed. The remains of an extra-mural settlement, usually known as a vicus, were discovered beyond the east side of the fort during in 1980 and 1982 by Jones in the garden of the former vicarage. The remains included the foundations of buildings fronting onto a road running east-west. The recovery of large quantities of slag and charcoal indicate that metalworking was taking place. Further indications of vicus buildings were revealed by the geophysical survey in 1991 east of the fort, north of the modern road in the area between the primary wall ditch and the realignment of the Wall to meet the north east corner of the fort. It is likely that the vicus was extensive and extended round both the southern and eastern sides of the fort. As the full extent of the vicus is not yet fully understood, only those remains which have been confirmed to survive are included in the scheduling. The course of the vallum in this section is known both from observations in the adjacent sections of Hadrian's Wall to the east and west. A substantial ditch to the south of the former vicarage was discovered in excavations in 1980 by Jones, and, although its full extent was not examined, it is likely to have been the ditch of the vallum. If this is so, the vallum in this section of the monument runs slightly to the north of the line depicted by the Ordnance Survey. There are no indications of the earthwork visible on the ground and it survives entirely as buried remains. The site of the medieval Burgh Castle was investigated in 1950 and was shown to retain evidence of four phases of activity during the medieval period. A first earthwork motte and bailey was built during the Norman period. Later this evolved into a medieval grange site which in turn was replaced in the late 12th century by a stone-built castle. In the 13th century a hall-building was constructed. This was destroyed c.1339. The modern graveyard of St Mary's Church is totally excluded from the scheduling. All field boundaries, road surfaces and buildings are excluded from the scheduling, but 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
Daniels, C, The Eleventh Pilgrimage of Hadrian's Wall, (1989), 23-24
Daniels, C, The Eleventh Pilgrimage of Hadrian's Wall, (1989), 22-24
Collingwood, R G, 'Transactions Cumbl/d Westm/ld Antiq and Arc Society' in Explorations at the Roman Fort of Burgh By Sands, , Vol. 23, (1923), 3-13
Grew, F, 'Britannia' in Roman Britain in 1980, , Vol. XII, (1981), 325
Hogg, R, 'Transactions of the Cumbl/d and Westm/ld Antiq and Arc Society' in Excavations of the Fortified Manor House at Burgh by Sands, , Vol. 54, (1954), 105-118
Jones, B, 'Britannia' in Roman Britain in 1980, , Vol. 12, (1981), 325


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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