Hadrian's Wall and vallum between St Oswald's Cottages, east of Brunton Gate and the North Tyne in wall miles 25, 26 and 27


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Northumberland (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
NY 92493 69695

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 works between the St Oswald's Cottages, east of Brunton Gate and the River North Tyne survive well and include two very well-preserved sections of Wall, one with a well-preserved turret standing to a height of 2.8m. Significant information on the remains and the development of the frontier system over time, will be preserved.


The monument includes the stretch of Hadrian's Wall, vallum and associated features between St Oswald's Cottages, east of Brunton Gate in the east and the River North Tyne in the west. This section occupies the west-facing side of the North Tyne valley. Hadrian's Wall bends slightly northwards at Dixon's Plantation and then follows a straight alignment all the way down to the crossing of the North Tyne. The B6318 road runs to the north of the Wall line for most of this section. The Wall is visible as an upstanding monument only in parts of this section. There is a 35m stretch of consolidated wall showing the junction between broad wall and narrow wall, at Planetrees, which is in the care of the Secretary of State. A second stretch of consolidated wall, 69m long and including turret 26b, is visible west of Brunton House. This is also in the care of the Secretary of State. Finally a further section of the Wall about 100m long, from the disused railway to the bridge abutment is in the care of the Secretary of State. Elsewhere throughout this section the Wall survives as a buried feature beneath grassland and dense woodland. The outer ditch is visible intermittently as a well-preserved earthwork. It is best preserved in the areas of woodland where it reaches depths of 3.5m. Milecastle 26, or `Planetrees' survives as a buried feature, partly beneath the B6318 and the areas to the north and south of it opposite Planetrees Farm. Milecastle 26 was partly excavated during 1930 by Hepple. Milecastle 27, or `Low Brunton' is situated on level ground on the east bank of the North Tyne. It is visible as a low, almost square, platform with a maximum height of 0.4m. The milecastle was partly excavated in 1952, and was shown to have a clay bonded wall core. The site of turret 26a was located opposite High Brunton House during 1930 by Hepple. It is situated on a steep east-facing slope. It survives as a buried feature below the dense woodland on the south side of the B6318. It was partly excavated during 1959 when it was shown to have had two levels of occupation, with no finds later than the second century AD. Turret 26b is a well-preserved upstanding example of a turret, up to 2.8m high. It is situated on a stretch of consolidated wall; both the Wall and turret are in the care of the Secretary of State. On the east side of the turret the broad wall wing of the turret is joined by a section of narrow wall, indicating that the turrets were built first and the Wall was then built up to them. This turret was first excavated by Clayton during 1873 and later by Hepple in 1930. The course of the Roman road known as the Military Way, which ran along the corridor between the Wall and the vallum linking turrets, milecastles and forts, is considered to be on the line of the north mound of the vallum in this section. Throughout this section the north mound of the vallum has been largely levelled by ploughing and so it is doubtful whether the Military Way survives intact here. The exception to this is where the angle of descent down to the North Tyne is particularly steep opposite Black Pasture Cottage, and here a turf-covered trackway leaves the line of the north mound to run down the side of a dry valley to rejoin it some 180m further on. This diversion effectively eases the gradient. Where the valley opens out this track is visible as a raised causeway 7m wide and 0.2m high. The vallum has been disturbed by ploughing in this section and for most of its length the mounds have been ploughed flat and the ditch only survives as a buried feature, now silted up. Intermittent sections of upstanding earthworks occur, the best preserved being to the west of Brunton Gate where the north mound survives up to 1.6m high and the ditch up to 1.7m deep. A cemetery, probably associated with the Roman fort at Chesters, exists alongside the probable course of the Military Way as it approaches the river crossing of the North Tyne on its east side. Excavation works for the building of the now disused North Tyne railway in 1857 uncovered human bone, a burial urn and fragments of samian ware Roman pottery. Layers of burnt material were found underneath the line of the vallum mounds. This positive relationship between Roman cemeteries and approach roads to forts is becoming increasingly apparent, being evidenced elsewhere along the Wall at Great Chesters, Carvoran and Carrawburgh. All road surfaces, the 18th century Grade II Listed milestone, a stile, field and property boundaries, buildings and English Heritage fixtures and fittings within the area of the monument are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath all 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.

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Books and journals
Bruce, J C, Handbook to the Roman wall, (1863), 105-6
Bruce, J C, Handbook to the Roman wall, (1863), 106
Bruce, J C, Handbook to the Roman wall, (1863), 105
Bruce, J C, 'Proccedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle Upon Tyne' in Proccedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle Upon Tyne, , Vol. 1 ser,1, (1857), 233
Simpson, , Birley, , 'Archaeologia Aeliana' in Excavations on Hadrian's Wall between Heddon on the Wall and ..., , Vol. 4 ser,8, (1931), 305-27


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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