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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 are dedicated pay and display car parks at Cawfields Quarry, Walltown Crags and Birdoswald.

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

Turret 44B is dramatically sited high on the Walltown Crags and became dubbed ‘King Arthur’s turret’ by subsequent generations.


Milecastle 43: Demolished with Great Chesters fort built on top:





Great Chesters Roman Fort (Aesica)

54.9953N 2.4646W

NY 7037366840

NE49 9NN

Milecastle 44

54.9962N 2.4873W

NY 6892566958


Turret 44B

54.9939N 2.4995W

NY 6813966703


Milecastle 45

54.9928N 2.5061W

NY 6771666590


Turret 45A

54.9906N 2.5110W

NY 6740466347


Milecastle 46

54.9866N 2.5251W

NY 6649665908


Milecastle 47

54.9877N 2.5503W

NY 6488566043


Milecastle 48

(Poltross Burn)

54.9890N 2.5736W

NY 6488566043


Turret 48A

54.9899N 2.5804W

NY 6296266296


Turret 48B

54.9917N 2.5876W

NY 6250266509


River Irthing Bridge Abutment

54.9914N 2.5920W

NY 6221766468


Milecastle 49

(Harrows Scar)

54.9908N 2.5951W

NY 6202166409


Milecastle 44

Milecastle 45

Milecastle 46

RELATED SITES NEARBY (Opens in new window)

Carvoran Roman Fort and Roman Army Museum

Milecastle 47

Milecastle 48:

Milecastle 48 - Poltross Burn

Lat/Long:  55.1163N 3.4307W

Grid Ref:   NY 6488566043

Postcode: CA8 7BJ

Milecastle 45

Lat/Long:  54.9928N 2.5061W

Grid Ref:   NY 6771666590

Postcode: CA8 7JD

Great Chesters Roman Fort

Lat/Long:  54.9953N 2.4646W

Grid Ref:   NY 7037366840

Postcode: N/A

Milecastle 44

Lat/Long:  54.9962N 2.4873W

Grid Ref:   NY 6892566958

Postcode: N/A

Milecastle 46

Lat/Long:  54.9866N 2.5251W

Grid Ref:   NY 6649665908

Postcode: N/A

Milecastle 47

Lat/Long:  54.9877N 2.5503W

Grid Ref:   NY 6488566043

Postcode: CA8 7EL


Milecastle 49:

Milecastle 49 - Harrows Scar

Lat/Long:  54.9908N 2.5951W

Grid Ref:   NY 6202166409

Postcode: N/A


Milecastles and turrets, often with their own short segment of Wall, were built ahead of the main Wall itself which explains the switch between broad to narrow gauges at several locations. Turret 44B is different and was constructed as a single standalone turret with no connection point for the Wall. Accordingly the builders butted the Wall up to the turret without fully integrating it.

Articles > Hadrian’s Wall HADRIAN’S WALL: THE REAL ROUTE Part 13: Great Chesters to Birdoswald (including Walltown Crags)

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 Great Chesters to the English Heritage managed property at Birdoswald Roman Fort. This is the western section of the ‘tourist zone’ and encompasses Milecastles 43 through to 49. The National Trail follows the line of the Wall throughout this section.


Great Chesters Roman Fort / Milecastle 43

Great Chesters, known to the Romans as Aesica, was an infantry fort. Like Housesteads its playing card shape is aligned with the long axis parallel to the Wall and thus didn't straddle it like most other forts. Relatively small compared to other forts, encompassing just 3 acres versus 5 at Housesteads, it was built over the demolished remains of Milecastle 43. Great Chesters was also built after the decision to revert from the wide (3 metre) to narrow (2.1 metre) gauge for the Wall; the fort was built with the narrow gauge walls a metre to the south of the existing broad foundations. Other evidence of late construction is the Vallum, whose path is clearly interrupted by the forts position - although unlike at Carrowburgh it remains within the military zone. No less than four ditches were dug to the fort's eastern side. Note the altar stone - the only original one left in situ on the Wall.

Great Chesters Roman Fort

Remains of a Turret at Great Chesters Roman Fort

Walltown Quarry

Like at Cawfields, Walltown Crags ends at a quarry where the shape of the landscape has been changed by later generations making it difficult to visualise how the Wall worked its way down the crags. Nevertheless it did and the Wall now comes of f the cliffs to run along flatter terrain. Whilst at Walltown Quarry note the Vallum to the south and you may want to visit the excellent Roman Army museum and explore the limited earthwork remains of Carvoran Roman Fort (Magna) - both accessible from Walltown Quarry car park. Once you’re done continue following the National Trail.

Line of Wall heading west from Great Chesters

Arriving at Walltown Crags

Looking back east towards Cawfields

Turret 44B - ‘King Arthur’s Turret’

Vallum at Walltown Crags

Earthwork remains of Carvoran Roman Fort

Turret 45A

Defensive ditches surrounding Great Chesters Roman Fort

Gateway at Great Chesters Roman Fort

Fighting Ditch heading west towards Thirlwall

Thirlwall Castle - made from stone robbed from the Wall

Fighting Ditch near Milecastle 47 position

On top of Walltown Crags

Walltown Quarry  - Viewed from Walltown Crags

Walltown Crags

Fragment of Wall at Thirlwell

The Wall at Gilsland

Wall at Gilsland

Walltown Crags

Finish exploring Great Chesters then head west along the National Trail which runs concurrent with the line of the Wall. You will soon start climbing to the heights of Walltown Crags passing sites of Milecastes 44 and 45.

Site of Milecastle 45

Thirwall Castle

Once you’re done with the Roman Army museum, follow the National Trail towards Thirlwall Castle. You’ll pass the site of Milecastle 46 and, with the crags of the Whin Sill now behind us, the Fighting Ditch makes a re-appearance. You’ll see Thirlwall Castle as you pass - it is well worth a short detour to visit this free historic monument.

Milecastle 48

Milecastle 48 is a well preserved example - see photos to the right. Take the time to explore the remains and then following the National Trail across the railway line into Gilsland. There you will see the remains of two turrets and, as you head down to Willowford, the remains of the second Roman bridge that carried the Wall; this time over the River Irthing. This bridge was rebuilt three times by the Romans becoming larger and grander on each occasion but does make for some fairly confused remains. Unlike at Chesters, there is a modern (foot) bridge enabling you to proceed directly to Milecastle 49.

Line of Wall heading West

Over a small bridge to Milecastle 48 - Poltross Burn

Milecastle 49

After crossing the Irthing you immediately climb up and into Milecastle 49 (Harrows Scar) which is another well preserved example. Explore the ruins and continue to head west where, after 500 metres, you’ll arrive at Birdoswald Roman Fort.

Turret 48A - note the broad to narrow gauge  switch

Towards Willowford

Turret 48B

Altar Stone

Walltown Crags


Keep following the National Trail towards Gilsland. The Railway rudely cuts through the line of the Wall both at Thirlwall and closer to Gilsland thankfully bypassing the ruins of the Milecastle 48.

Towards Willowford

Bridge abutment

Milecastle 49 - Harrows Scar

Towards Birdoswald


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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