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Tyne and Wear HER(196): Hadrian's Wall - Details

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Newcastle and N Tyneside

Hadrian's Wall



Frontier Defence



Ruined Building

Hadrian's Wall lay between Wallsend (Tyne and Wear) on the east, Bowness-on- Solway (Cumbria) on the west, c. 73.5 miles. Building began c.122-126; the system was abandoned late C4 / early C5.The first plan was for a stone wall from the lower Tyne to the River Irthing in Cumbria and a turf wall from the Irthing to Bowness-on-Solway. To the north of the Wall was a v-shaped ditch (varies from 7m wide and 3m deep to 2m wide and 800mm deep) with a drainage slot in the bottom. The contents of the ditch were tipped out on to the north side and smoothed out to create a counterscarp bank. The berm - the space between Wall and ditch - has been found at Wallsend, Byker, Throckley and Newcastle to have contained a complex of pits. There were three rows of pits at Byker each holding two stakes. At every Roman mile there was a fortified gate (milecastle) approximately 25m square, with two towers or turrets, approximately 6m square, in-between. The milecastles and turrets extended along the Cumbrian coast for about 20 miles beyond the end of the Wall. During construction of the Wall, it was decided to add a series of forts to the line, spaced about 7 and a third miles apart. Outside the forts there were civilian settlements (vici). The Vallum earthwork, a steep-sided flat bottomed ditch, 6m wide and 3m deep, flanked by two mounds, revetted with turf, each 6m across, was also a later addition to the complex, added to the south side of the Wall. It has not been found between Newcastle and Wallsend. The width of the Stone wall was reduced from 10 Roman feet to 8 feet or less. The eastern end of Hadrian's Wall was at Wallsend, but the presence of narrow Wall rather than broad Wall east of Newcastle, led to the theory that the Wall was only extended to Wallsend later, and that it was originally intended to end at Newcastle. In 2001 Hill argued that the Wall was always meant to end at Wallsend, but that construction only started on this length after the width of the Wall had been narrowed. Bidwell (forthcoming) is of the opinion that the older interpretation is more likely. The Military Way, built of large stones surfaced with gravel, seems to have been added between the Wall and Vallum, when Hadrian's Wall was reoccupied on the abandonment of the Antonine Wall in the late 150s. Roads are known to have connected the turrets and some milecastles to the Military Way. In many areas it runs along the top of the north mound of the Vallum. A track has been recorded at several places behind the Wall (eg. Denton).Hadrian's Wall extended over 73.5 miles between Wallsend (Tyne and Wear) on the east, and Bowness-on-Solway (Cumbria) on the west. Its eastern part consisted of a stone curtain wall with ditch on the north side; forts, milecastles and turrets to accommodate the garrison; an earthwork called the Vallum to the south; and a road, the Military Way, between the curtain wall and the Vallum. An additonal, supply road ran along the south side of the Vallum. A additional feature of the wall complex, recently identified near its southern end, are rows of defensive pits (cippi) between the Wall and the ditch, designed to hold entanglements of sharpened branches to form an additional defensive barrier. To date these pits have been found at Wallsend and in Shields Road, Byker. Building of the Roman Wall began c.122-126 A.D. and the system was abandoned late in the 4th century or early in the 5th century. Forts, milecastles and turrets which have been excavated are numbered individually; details of short stretches of the Wall, ditch, Vallum, Military Way and sites of milecastles and turrets are grouped by Roman mile as defined by English Heritage. SCHEDULED ANCIENT MONUMENT AND UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE




<< HER 196 >> J. Horsley, 1733, Britannia Romana H. MacLauchlan, 1858, Memoir written during a Survey of the Roman Wall H. MacLauchlan, 1857, The Roman Wall...consisting of plans of the military works J.C. Bruce, 1853, The Roman Wall, 2nd edition J.C. Bruce, 1863, The Wallet-Book of the Roman Wall J.C. Bruce, 1884, The Hand-Book to the Roman Wall, 2nd ed. J.C. Bruce & R. Blair, 1895, The Handbook... 4th ed. J.C. Bruce & R. Blair, 1907, The Handbook, 5th ed. J.C. Bruce & R. Blair, 1909, The Handbook, 6th ed. J.C. Bruce & R. Blair, 1914, The Handbook, 7th ed. J.C. Bruce & R. Blair, 1921, The Handbook, 8th ed. J.C. Bruce & R.G. Collingwood, 1933, The Handbook, 9th ed. J.C. Bruce & I.A. Richmond, 1947, The Handbook, 10th ed. J.C. Bruce & I.A. Richmond, 1957, The Handbook, 11th ed. J.C. Bruce & I.A. Richmond, 1965, The Handbook, 12th ed. J.C. Bruce & C.M. Daniels, 1978, The Handbook, 13th ed. E.Birley,1961, Research on Hadrian's Wall C.E. Stevens, 1948, The Building of Hadrian's Wall, Archaeologia Aeliana, 4, XXVI, 1-46 B. Swinbank & J.E.H. Spaul,1951, The Spacing of the Forts on Hadrian's Wall, Archaeologia Aeliana, 4, XXIX, 221-38 J. Hooley & D.J. Breeze, 1968, The building of Hadrian's Wall: a reconsideration, Archaeologia Aeliana, 4, XLVI, 97-114 W. Bulmer, 1969, The provisioning of Roman forts: a reappraisal of ration storage, Archaeologia Aeliana, 4, XLVII, 7-13 D. Breeze & B. Dobson, 1969, Fort types on Hadrian's Wall, Archaeologia Aeliana, 4, XLVII, 15-32 R.G. Collingwood,1931, Hadrian's Wall A System of Numerical References,Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle, 4, IV (1929-30), 179-87 P. Bidwell & M. Snape, 2002, The History and Setting of the Roman Fort at Newcastle upon Tyne,The Roman Fort at Newcastle upon Tyne, Archaeologia Aeliana, 5, Vol XXXI P. Austen, & C. Young, 2002, English Heritage, Hadrian's Wall World Heritage Site Management Plan, 2002-2007 D.J. Breeze, 2004, Handbook to the Roman Wall, (J. Collingwood, Bruce 14th edition) (draft); Guy de la Bedoyere, 2005, Hadrian's Wall History and Guide; David J. Breeze, 2006, J. Collingwood Bruce's Handbook to the Roman Wall, 14th edition

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