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SECTION 1: Introduction

- Visiting Rome’s Northern Frontier

- Components of the Frontier

SECTION 2: History of the Wall

- Empire Without Limits

- A Frontier - but Where?

- Holding the Line

SECTION 3: The Wall east to west as it exists today

- South Shields to Benwell Hill (including Newcastle)

- Benwell Hill to Rudchester (including Heddon-on-the-Wall)

- Rudchester to Halton Chesters

- Halton Chesters to Chesters

- Chesters to Carrawburgh

- Carrawburgh to Housesteads

- Housesteads to Great Chesters (including Steel Rigg and Cawfields)

- Great Chesters to Birdoswald (including Walltown)

- Birdoswald to Castlesteads

- Castlesteads to Stanwix

- Stanwix to Burgh-by-Sands (including Carlisle)

- Burgh-by-Sands to Bowness-on-Solway

- Western Sea Defences


The bulk of this length of this walk is in a rural area walking on grass/non-vehicular footpaths. There is pay and display parking at Birdoswald and a number of free laybys (including Pike Hill).

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (Opens in new window)

On this section of the wall there is one staffed site. Click the links below for more information (links open in new window):

- Birdoswald Roman Fort

- Hadrian’s Wall Path: Official National Trail

The fragment remains of a signal station designed to keep the fort at Nether Denton in touch with outposts on the northern Maiden Way.


Milecastle 50 (Turf Wall):





Birdoswald Roman Fort (Banna)

54.9902N 2.6035W

NY 6148366346


Turret 49B

54.9889N 2.6089W

NY 6113866206


Milecastle 50 (High House)

54.9873N 2.6159W

NY 6068666028


Milecastle 51

54.9825N 2.6377W

NY 5928865506


Turret 51A

(Piper Sike)

54.9806N 2.6448W

NY 5883165306


Turret 51B

54.9788N 2.6518W

NY 5838465109


Milecastle 52

54.9773N 2.6578W

NY 5799564939


Pike Hill Signal Station

54.9760N 2.6630W

NY 5766264796


Turret 52A

54.9753N 2.6660W

NY 5746864725


Milecastle 53

(Banks Burn)

54.9743N 2.6807W

NY 5652564617


Milecastle 54

54.9727N 2.7037W

NY 5505364461


Milecastle 55

54.9719N 2.7275W

NY 5353064381


Milecastle 56

(Est Pos)

54.9715N 2.7484W

NY 5218764352


Milecastle 57

54.9655N 2.7700W

NY 5079863697


Milecastle 50 (Stone Wall)

Milecastle 51

Milecastle 52

Milecastle 53

Milecastle 54:

Milecastle 54

Lat/Long:  54.9727N 2.7037W

Grid Ref:   NY 5505364461

Postcode: CA8 2HN

Milecastle 51

Lat/Long:  54.9825N 2.6377W

Grid Ref:   NY 5928865506

Postcode: CA8 2BU

Milecastle 50 (Turf Wall - AD 122) - High House

Lat/Long:  54.9857N 2.6147W

Grid Ref:   NY 6076465850

Postcode: CA8 7DD

Milecastle 50 (Stone Wall - AD 160) - High House

Lat/Long:  54.9873N 2.6159W

Grid Ref:   NY 6068666028

Postcode: CA8 7DD

Milecastle 52

Lat/Long:  54.9773N 2.6578W

Grid Ref:   NY 5799564939

Postcode: CA8 2BX

Milecastle 53 - Banks Burn

Lat/Long:  54.9743N 2.6807W

Grid Ref:   NY 5652564617

Postcode: CA8 2JJ

Milecastle 55:

Milecastle 55

Lat/Long:  54.9719N 2.7275W

Grid Ref:   NY 5353064381

Postcode: CA8 2DH

Milecastle 56:

Milecastle 56 - (Estimated Position Only)

Lat/Long:  54.9715N 2.7484W

Grid Ref:   NY 5218764352

Postcode: CA8 2DH

Milecastle 57:

Milecastle 57 - Castlesteads

Lat/Long:  54.9655N 2.7700W

Grid Ref:   NY 5079863697

Postcode: CA8 2AX

Articles > Hadrian’s Wall HADRIAN’S WALL: THE REAL ROUTE Part 14: Birdoswald to Castlesteads (including Pike Hill and Hare Hill)

Key: BLUE MARKER = Fort Location    RED MARKER = Known Milecastle/Milefort Location    GREEN MARKER = Point of Interest


What Can Be Seen

This article takes you from Birdoswald to the proximity of Castlesteads which housed the next garrison. This section of the walk remains entirely on the National Trail and whilst a number of turrets can be be seen during the walk, along with a few stretches of Wall and the fragmentary remains of a signal station, the sweeping vistas of the previous sections are no more. Covers Milecastles 50-57.


Birdoswald Roman Fort

The design of the Wall changed significantly at Birdoswald; the entire eastern section had been built of stone from the start but from this point east it was initially a turf and timber construction due to the lack of ready use stone and, in particular, the shortage of limestone mortar. Birdoswald itself was initially a timber construction but was rebuilt around AD 138 just before Hadrian’s Wall was temporarily abandoned in favour of the Antonine Wall in Scotland. But the fort remained in use even during this period as it was situated on Maiden Way - the Roman road that had come north into Carvoran fort before following the Stanegate to Birdoswald where it headed north towards Bewcastle. When Hadrian’s Wall was re-occupied in the AD 160s the turf and timber Wall in the west was rebuilt in stone and with the exception of the first Roman mile after Birdoswald fort it was rebuilt on the same foundations. Between the fort and Milecastle 51 though the stone wall was built circa-150 metres further north; the fort straddled the turf wall in the traditionally manner but when rebuilt the Wall was aligned with Birdoswald’s northern curtain wall. For this short stretch then elements of both have survived to a greater or lesser extent. Either follow the road for the path of the Stone Wall or the National Trail for the path of the Turf Wall.

Pike Hill Signal Station

As you follow the National Trail towards Banks you will come upon a unique survivor on the course of the Wall - a fragment of a signal station designed to faciliate communications with outposts to the north of the Wall. A couple of miles back at Birdoswald the Maiden Way departed heading north-north-west towards Bewcastle and it is likely that Pike Hill was one in a chain connecting that outpost to Nether Denton fort on the Stanegate. Keep following the National Trail along the road.

Fighting Ditch

Turret 51A and Fighting Ditch

Turret 51A (Piper Sike)

Traces of Vallum

Segment of Wall near Pike Hill

Turret 52A

Line of Wall - climbing to Pike Hill

Milecastle 53 location

A segment of Wall probably reconstructed in the Victorian era

Milecastle 54 position

Pike Hill Signal Station

Looking back east towards Pike Hill Signal Station

Line of Wall

Line of Wall heading west

Line of Wall

Vicinity of Milecastle 55


The turf and stone elements converge near the site of Milecastle 51 and do not divert again. The trail now follows the road for some distance right through to Banks.

Turret 51B


Follow the road into Banks noting that where the road curves round, the Wall ran straight across - alas this is private land so no access.  You’ll come to a T-Junction - turn left following the National Trail sign and then take the first right towards Hare Hill. Milecastle 53 would have been in the vicinity but no trace remains. Shortly after you come to a segment of Wall standing over 16 courses high. Regrettably this is not a lucky survivor but handiwork of a Victorian antiquarian.

Vallum (left) and Fighting Ditch (right)

Heading west

Line of Wall heading west

Dovecote Wall - Segment of Wall  buried for preservation

Fighting Ditch near Walton

Turret 49B near Birdoswald

Walton - Likely location of Milecastle 56

Fighting Ditch

Looking  east towards Milecastle 57 position

View towards Castlesteads Roman Fort

Birdoswald Roman Fort (Banna)

See Webpage

Birdoswald guarded the crossing over the River Irthing and from the fort the Maiden Way headed north towards the Roman outpost at Bewcastle. The fort shows some signs of continued occupation after the Roman withdrawal.

Fighting Ditch

Gateway at Great Chesters Roman Fort

Milecastle 50 (Turf) Location

Heading West

Heading West

Turret 49B

Stone foundations to the ‘turf’ Wall

Milecastle 50 (stone)

Turf Wall

Fighting Ditch

TURF WALL (AD 122-160)

STONE WALL (AD 160-410)

Wall ran through Banks

Towards Walton

Just beyond Hare Hill you switch back to a rural path but still following the National Trail.


Milecastle 56 has never been located but its estimated position is under the southern part of Walton. Keeping following the National Trail which skirts through the south of the village and back onto a grass path towards the position of Milecastle 57 and Castlesteads Roman Fort.


Breeze, D.J (2011). The Frontiers of Imperial Rome. Pen and Sword Books Ltd, Barnsley.

Burton, A (2010). Hadrian's Wall Path. Aurum Press Ltd, London.

Crow, J (1989). Housesteads Roman Fort. English Heritage, London.

English Heritage (2010). An Archaeological Map of Hadrian's Wall, 1:25,000 Scale. English Heritage, London.

Hodgson, N (2011). Chesters Roman Fort. English Heritage, London.

Moffat, A (2009). The Wall. Birlinn Ltd, Edinburgh.

Wilmott, T (2010). Birdoswald Roman Fort. English Heritage, London.

Bedoyere, G (2010). Roman Britain: A New History. Thames and Hudson Ltd, London.

Dando-Collins, S (2010). Legions of Rome. Quercus, London.

Hobbs, R and Jackson, R (2010). Roman Britain. British Museum Company Ltd, London.

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