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ARTICLE CONTENTS:


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

TRAVEL AND PARKING

This section starts in Burgh-by-Sands and passes through to Bowness all served by a rural road with some laybys. There is also a small car park/enhanced layby just after Bowness.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (Opens in new window)

On this section of the wall there are no staffed staffed sites. Information about the Hadrian’s Wall National Trail however can be accessed at (link opens in new window):

- Hadrian’s Wall Path: Official National Trail


The shore of the Solway, with its coastal erosion and flooding, has not been kind to the Wall and virtually nothing remains visible today.

MILECASTLES

Milecastle 72: Located under modern houses in Burgh-by-Sands:

GETTING THERE


LAT/LONG

OS GRID REF

POSTCODE

Burgh-by-Sands Roman Fort (Aballava)

54.9221N 3.0491W

NY 3286059102

CA5 6AY

Milecastle 72

54.9220N 3.0568W

NY 3236759102

CA5 6AY

Milecastle 73

(Dykesfield)

54.9246N 3.0791W

NY 3093759410

N/A

Milecastle 74

54.9239N 3.1019W

NY 2947559356

N/A

Milecastle 75


54.9256N 3.1238W

NY 2807559565

N/A

Milecastle 76


54.9285N 3.1463W

NY 2664059914

CA7 5DP

Drumburgh Roman Fort (Congabata)

54.9273N 3.1470W

NY 2659159783

CA7 5DP

Milecastle 77

54.9352N 3.1613W

NY 2568960679

N/A

Milecastle 78

54.9409N 3.1782W

NY 2462061332

CA7 5DH

Milecastle 79

54.9492N 3.1962W

NY 2348462267

N/A

Bowness-on-Solway Roman Fort (Maia)

54.9528N 3.2164W

NY 2219562694

CA7 5AF

Milecastle 73

Milecastle 74

Milecastle 75

Milecastle 76

Milecastle 77:

Milecastle 77


Lat/Long:  54.9352N 3.1613W

Grid Ref:   NY 2568960679

Postcode: N/A

Milecastle 74 (Estimated Position Only)


Lat/Long:  54.9239N 3.1019W

Grid Ref:   NY 2947559356

Postcode: N/A

Milecastle 72


Lat/Long:  54.9220N 3.0568W

Grid Ref:   NY 3236759102

Postcode: CA5 6AY

Milecastle 73 (Dykesfield)


Lat/Long:  54.9246N 3.0791W

Grid Ref:   NY 3093759410

Postcode: N/A

Milecastle 75 (Estimated Position Only)


Lat/Long:  54.9256N 3.1238W

Grid Ref:   NY 2807559565

Postcode: N/A

Milecastle 76 (Drumburgh)


Lat/Long:  54.9285N 3.1463W

Grid Ref:   NY 2664059914

Postcode: CA7 5DP

Milecastle 78:

Milecastle 78


Lat/Long:  54.9409N 3.1782W

Grid Ref:   NY 2462061332

Postcode: CA7 5DH

Milecastle 79:

Milecastle 71


Lat/Long:  54.9492N 3.1962W

Grid Ref:   NY 2348462267

Postcode: N/A

Milecastle 80: Located under the fort at Bowness-on-Solway:

Milecastle 80


Lat/Long:  54.9528N 3.2164W

Grid Ref:   NY 2219562694

Postcode: N/A

Articles > Hadrian’s Wall HADRIAN’S WALL: THE REAL ROUTE Part 17: Burgh-by-Sands to Bowness-on-Solway

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

THE WALL EAST TO WEST: BURGH-BY-SANDS TO BOWNESS-ON-SOLWAY


What Can Be Seen


This article takes you from Burgh-by-Sands to Bowness-on-Solway covering Milecastles 72 to 80 and the fort at Drumburgh. Virtually nothing remains of the frontier which has long since been obliterated by the shifting sands and flooding of the area. Nevertheless it offers a nice walk and affords the opportunity to see how close the Scottish shores are. The National Trail follows the path of the Wall through this section until it terminates at eastern Bowness.

CONTINUE TO WEST COAST DEFENCES >


Burgh-by-Sands Roman Fort


The Roman fort at Burgh-by-Sands, known as Aballava, was strategically important due to the proximity of nearby fords over the Solway. There have been several forts here - the first might have been connected to the Stanegate and housed a cavalry unit, the Ala I Tungrorum. This was seemingly replaced by a new fort built as part of the initial plan for Hadrian's Wall but like Castlesteads was initially set back from the line of the Wall. Finally the third fort was positioned on the Wall itself and was sited where St Michael's church is today. Turret 71B was demolished to accommodate the move.


St Michael's church itself is worth exploring and was built from stones robbed from the Wall. Edward I, on his way to campaign against the Scots to suppress the rebellion by Robert the Bruce, died here in July 1307 (a monument has been erected on the shores of the Solway) and was laid in state in the church. The structure also had use as a Peel tower; a place of safety for the populace when raids came from the north.


Follow the main road through the village following the National Trail. The Wall ran slightly to the north of this position buried under the houses of Burgh-by-Sands. Milecastle 72 was also located in the village.


Drumburgh


The small village of Drumburgh was the site of both Milecastle 76 and a small Roman fort known as Congabata housing an infantry garrison of around 500 men.

Line of Wall heading west

Drumburgh

Drumburgh Village - built over the Roman fort

View north to the Scottish coast

Line of Wall intersects with road at bend

View north to Scotland

Milecastle 76 position

Milecastle 73 position (under buildings)

Wall ran along treeline

What would the Romans have thought?


Towards Dykesfield


Keep following the main road through and out of the Village on the route of the National Trail. Both the Wall and Vallum ran slightly to the north of this line but at the moment this is the closest you can get.

Estimated position of Milecastle 74


Port Carlisle


Following the main road through Drumburgh towards Port Carlisle and Bowness-on-Solway following the National Trail. You’ll pass the sites of Milecastles 77, 78 and 79 the positions of which, whilst there are no visible remains, are at least known. The Wall leaves Drumburgh into a field before turning 60 degrees and intersecting with the road. It now runs on the line of the road until after Port Carlisle.

Approaching Bowness-on-Solway

This section provides some impressive views over the Solway

St Michael’s Church - site of the third Roman fort at Burgh-by-Sands

Burgh-by-Sands

Line of Wall - nearing Milecastle 77 position

Line of Wall follows shoreline at this point


Bowness-on-Solway


After Port Carlisle the Wall runs across farmland whilst the road sticks to the shore. You can’t follow the Wall exactly so stick to the road and National Trail - the original line can be seen from tree line to your left however.


Solway Firth


Once out of a Burgh-by-Sands and passed Dykesfield the view opens up. The Wall ran to your right here across what is today the flat scrub. The wide view enables you to appreciate the position of Milecastle 73 (above). Keep following the road and the National Trail west.

Road and line of Wall (treeline) converge near Bowness

Line of Wall (running across picture) just to north of Burgh-by-Sands

Line of Wall heading west

Estimated position of Milecastle 75

Looking back east

Drumburgh Village - built over the Roman fort

Line of Wall in vicinity to Milecastle 78


End of the National Trail


Follow the main road into Bowness-on-Solway and you’ll see a sign directing walkers of the National Trail to the right. This leads to a shelter formally marking the end of the walk. It’s disappointing on a number of counts. Firstly we are not even at the western end of the Wall yet - fort Maia is 300 metres down the road not to mention 26 miles of defences down the Cumbrian coast. Secondly it says much for the modern era that whereas the Romans built this mighty frontier, our contribution is a lacklustre wooden hut. Utterly appalling! View the hut and then retrace your steps back to the main road and keep heading west.


Bowness-on-Solway Roman Fort


Follow the main road through Bowness-on-Solway noting that it is aligned exactly with that of the original fort. The road exits the village and loops down towards the shore allowing access to the beach (there is also an extended lay-by/small car park here). Go onto the beach as this offers the best view of the positioning of the Bowness fort.


The line of the Wall ended here at the last used fording point over the Solway. When the Wall was initially built in the AD 120s as an earth and timber structure, Milecastle 80 stood here. Upon re-occupation in the AD 160s the Milecastle was demolished and the Bowness fort, known as Maia, was built first in timber and later in stone. It covered over seven acres (second only in size to Stanwix) and may well have had a logistical role like South Shields - it might have superseded the fort at Kirkbride in this function. This theory is supported by the concurrent construction of the Military Road to replace the Stanegate (on which Kirkbride was located) as the main communication artery along the Wall.

Line of street mirrors main road through fort

Fort was sited upon raised ground

View across Solway at Maia

REFERENCES / FURTHER READING

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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