Hadrian's Wall Camera -Harlow Hill to Portgate- Milecastles 16 to 22
Page VI

Portgate to Chesters

Milecastles 22 to 27

Portgate to CILURNUM Fort

Where the A68 crosses the B6318 stood the Portgate built after the Wall and was thought to have been put in place to re-connect with the land to the north using the ancient Dere Street (see notes previos page) which at the time the Wall was established was no longer considered necessary.

The Hunnum Fort visited on page V was perhaps extended to contain the extra garrison required to control this gateway.

Passing the sites of Milecastles 23 to 27 on its way to cross the North Tyne a few hundred yards south west of Chollerford, the Wall climbs to St Oswald's farm and the stretch of wall at Planetrees made famous by William Hutton in his published account of his journey undertaken in 1801.

After looking at the Roman Bridge crossing this page concludes with CILURNUM FORT also known as Chesters this superbly preserved ruin is a must visit for any one remotely interested in the history of Northumberland.

Roman Mile = 1620 yards = 0.92Mile = 1.48km

Start point for this page

Location
Milecastle
Segedunum to Pons Aelis
Pons Aelis to Condercum
Condercum to Heddon
Heddon to Harlow Hill
Harlow Hill to Portgate
Portgate to Chesters
Chesters to Brocolitia
Brocolitia to Vercovicivm
Vercovicivm to MC40
MC40 to Aesica
Aesica to Carvoran
Carvoran to Birdoswald
Birdoswald to Hare Hill
Hare Hill to Newton
Newton to Stanwix
Stanwix to Dykesfield
Dykesfield to Maia

The Wall line from MC 22, the site of which is on the previous page, passes the site of the Portgate immediately to the north of The Errington Arms and sits on a high ridge for a few hundred yards to the top of the hill beyond before dissapearing under the B 6318 road again..

The ditch is very much in evidence running to the north of the road. See the pictures below.

Information on Dere Street see previous page

On the same stretch the Vallum is detailed in the fields to the south as the Wall approaches the site of Milecastle 23

The site of Milecastle 23

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The Wall climbs to the trig point 268 a short distance past MC 23.

The area is wooded to the left of the road and the Vallum can be found deep and crisp with rocks on the line chiselled to suit.

The Ditch when dug was 30ft wide and 13ft 6 inches deep

On its direct line west the wall undulated along the ridge heading for Milecastle 24. The views both north and south superb.

The Ditch is seen very clearly.

The site of Milecastle No. 24

East of the High Errington Farm entrance

The wall continues on its way with a slight turn to the left heading for St. Oswald's Hill Head Farm.

The Ditch along this stretch is spectacular.

The site of Milecastle No. 25

Behind the wall in a parcel of Private Land!

While the Wall did not deviate the road drops left at St Oswald's Hill Head Farm to take into consideration the steep downhill gradient to be encountered in the next mile. The road drops into the Vallum and the line of the Wall now has built upon it the Farm buildings and a long barn.

The line of the Ditch can be seen to follow through another barn to the north

Beyond the farm the Line of the wall becomes particularly indistinct as it passes across what is known as Heavenfield

Heavenfield

The name given to this area of land by the Venerable Bede

Oswald King of Northumbria following the death of Edwin, after whom Edinburgh is named, fought Cadwallon, King of the Welsh and Penda King of Mercia at this spot and prevailed.

The story is chronicled by Bede and adds "The place in the english tongue is called heavenfield........ near the wall with which the Romans formerly enclosed the island from sea to sea......."

The date on the sign by the road states 635 but the correct date is 633 *1

A church stands at the top of the hill to the north of the site.

The line of the Wall proceeds through a farmyard at the west of Heavenfield and then begins its steep descent into the valley of the NorthTyne.

The Bull and his companions were browsing in the ditch when I passed.

This is on the "Hadrian's Wall Path" at this point

A view across the Valley of the North Tyne and down to the site of MC 26. opposite Planetrees farm.
The site of Milecastle No.26

Planetreees

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The Wall at Planetrees- William Hutton

In 1801 when he was 78 Years of age, an antiquarian, William Hutton walked from Birmingham to the Wall, followed its span west to east and back and walked home. A feat truly amazing in itself. He chronicled his observations.

" The History of the Roman Wall which crosses the island of Britain, from the German Ocean to the Irish Sea.

Describing its Antient State and Its apperance in the year 1801. By W Hutton, F.A.S.S."

Here at Planetrees he recounts this story

At the twentieth milestone I should have seen a piece of Severus's Wall seven and a half feet high by 224 yards long, a sight not to be seen in the whole of the line; but the proprietor ,Henry Tulip, esq., is now taking it down to erect a farmhouse with the materials. Ninety-five yards are already destroyed, and the stones fit for building removed. Then we come to the 13 yards, which are standing and overgrown on the top with brambles........... How little we value what is daily under the eye.

" I desired the servant, with whom I conversed, to give my compliments to Mr.Tulip and request him to desist, or he would wound the whole body of antiquaries. As he was putting an end to the most noble monument of antiquity in the whole island, they would feel every stroke. If the Wall was of no estimation he musy have a mean opinion of me, who would travel 600 miles to see it. Should he reply " the property is mine and I have the right to direct it as I please" it is an argument I can regret but not refute. *2

What we see is what he saved, thank goodness for his fortuitous arrival.

The change of wall width from "Broad" to "Narrow" can be seen on this length of Wall

I wonder if the Milecastle, only a hundred yards or so east and built earlier had this length in their plan as part of the build, and the Wall builders built the "Narrow" on the "Broad" base provided beyond that when they came to do their bit?

The Wall now dropped steeply down the hill heading for the Bridge crossing the North Tyne.

It passes through some woods and into the grounds of Brunton House where it passes to the south of the main building.and can be accessed again leaving the house grounds at Brunton Turret 26b

From Brunton Turret the Wall is set on the same straight line to the bridge. It crosses the A6079 road down to the flood plain of the North Tyne.

The site of Milecastle 27 is to found as an almost indistict square mound in an open field.

The site of Milecastle 27

NY 916 699

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Beyond the site of Milecastle 27 lies the eastern abutment of the Roman Bridge across the North Tyne. There was a more simple bridge built at the time of the Wall the final bridge was to carry the "Military Way"

on the other side stood the Cavalry Fort CILURNUM ( Chesters)

CILURNUM FORT

The name given to the Sixth Fort on the Wall in the Notitia. The area covered by the fort is 5.75 acres.

Another Cavalry Fort it was known to have been garrisoned by a cavalry regiment in the third and fourth centuries named The second Ala of Asurians there are suggestions of and earlier occupation by the Agustan Ala of Gauls *3 Harrison pg 84.

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The Fort sits in the grounds of the 18th century manor house owned by John Clayton. We are all in Clayton's debt as he did a great deal to preserve parts of the Wall purchasing the land it stood on when it becme available. In the end he owned five of the forts on the Wall.

More about John Clayton on the next page.

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Much is to be seen at Chesters and the museum is superb I have shown a few pictures to give an idea of how the Wall passed through this site.

The Northern turret of the East Gate

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The Bathhouse changing room old print and today

The Barrack Block

They make a lovely cup of tea !

References page 6

*1 David Harrison - Along Hdrian's Wall 1956 Pg 80

*2 Frank Graham - The Roman Wall Comprehensive History and Guide 1979 Pg 62 63

*3 David Harrison - Along Hdrian's Wall 1956 Pg 84

Back to the Portgate

Milecastles

This first plan provided for a wall 10ft wide, 15ft 6 inches high and surmounted by a 6ft crenellation. to the north of this was a 20 ft berm, a standard fighting ditch 30ft by 13ft 6 inches, and a glacis composed of the spoil of the ditch, approximately 60ft in width.

At each Roman mile was a milecastle with a north gate opening through the Wall, surmounted by a defensive turret and a south gate. In the original plan there were two barracks and the milecastle maintained a turret on either hand for the patrol garrison.

South of the wall was the Vallum, a complex consisting of a 20 ft ditch with a wide bottom section and mounds composed of spoil to north and south. The wall was built to the design width only on the eastern slope. The Milecastles built before the change of plan had 10ft wings on either side. The curtain wall as finally built was substantially narrower and the join is indicated in the diagram.

This information and the diagram taken from Richard Devine The Northwest Frontier of the Roman Empire Chap2 pg 27