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Title: The Roman Wall
Author: Bruce, Rev. John Collingwood
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  G. Bouchier Richardson, Delt.   John Storey, Lith.


                               ROMAN WALL

                             ACCOUNT OF THE

                 ~Barrier of the Lower Isthmus,~



                                 BY THE

                   REV. JOHN COLLINGWOOD BRUCE, M. A.







                      BOTH OF NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE.



                         JOHN CLAYTON, ESQUIRE,
                             THE PROPRIETOR
                                 OF THE
                           IN NORTHUMBERLAND
                         AFFORDED TO THE AUTHOR
                               THIS WORK
                           OF A GREAT PEOPLE
                     IS MOST GRATEFULLY INSCRIBED.



The famous Roman Wall, which, in former times, protected southern
Britain from the ravages of the northern tribes, exhibits, at this day,
remains more entire, and forms a subject of study more interesting than
is generally supposed.

Two authors of great learning have treated of this renowned
structure—Horsley, in the Britannia Romana, and Hodgson, in the last
volume of his History of Northumberland. Both are treatises of
considerable size, and both are, to a certain extent, rare. The
Britannia Romana, moreover, describes the Wall, not as it is, but as it
was more than a century ago. Hodgson’s work is of recent date, and forms
a valuable storehouse of nearly all that is known upon the subject. The
mind, however, of that amiable man and zealous antiquary was, at the
time of its preparation, bending under the weight of his ill-requited
labours, and he has failed to present his ample materials to the reader
in that condensed and well-arranged form which distinguishes his
previous volumes, and without which a book on antiquities will not
arrest the attention of the general reader.

The following work may be regarded as introductory to the elaborate
productions of Horsley and Hodgson. The reader is not assumed to be
acquainted with the technicalities of archæology; and, at each advancing
step the information is supplied which may render his course easy. I
have not attempted, in the last part of the work, to enumerate all the
altars and inscribed stones which have been found upon the line of the
Wall, but have made a selection of those which are most likely to
interest the general reader, and to give him a correct idea of the
nature and value of these remains.

In the body of the work I have endeavoured to furnish a correct
delineation of the present condition of the Wall and its outworks. All
my descriptions are the result of personal observation. To secure as
great accuracy as possible, I have read over many of my proof sheets on
the spot which they describe.

The pictorial illustrations have been prepared with care, and will give
the reader, who is not disposed to traverse the ground, a correct idea
of the state of the Barrier. The wood-cuts and plates, illustrative of
the antiquities found on the line, have, with the exception of a few
coins introduced into the first Part of the volume, and copied from the
MONUMENTA HISTORICA, been prepared from original drawings, taken for
this work from the objects themselves. I am not without hope that the
well-read antiquary will value these delineations for their beauty and

The inhabitants of the isthmus are proud of the Wall and its
associations; and whatever may have been the case with their
forefathers, will not needlessly destroy it. Most kind has been the
reception I have met with in my peregrinations, and most valuable the
assistance I have received from the gentry and yeomen of the line, and
others interested in my labours! Gladly would I enumerate all to whom I
am indebted, had it been possible. Some names, however, must be
mentioned. His Grace the Duke of Northumberland has not only given me
free access to all his antiquarian stores, but directed me to prepare at
his expense engravings on wood of all that I thought suitable to my
purpose. Would that his Grace knew how much I have been cheered in my
course by his notice of my humble labours! To John Clayton, esq., I am
obliged for the gift of the wood-cuts illustrative of the numerous and
interesting antiquities preserved at CILURNUM, the produce of that
station and BORCOVICUS. To Albert Way, esq., the accomplished and
honorary secretary of the Archæological Institute, with whom I had last
year the pleasure and advantage of spending a day upon the Wall, I am
indebted for the cuts representing the altar and slab discovered at
Tynemouth. The suite of wood-cuts illustrative of the hoard of coins
found in the ancient quarry on Barcombe-hill, have been engraved at the
expense of my tried and valued friend, John Fenwick, esq., of
Newcastle-upon-Tyne; and to William Kell, esq., town-clerk of Gateshead,
with whom I have traversed the Wall from sea to sea, and some portions
of it repeatedly, I am indebted for the beautiful representation of the
ancient PONS ÆLII fronting the title-page. My former school-fellow,
William Woodman, esq., town-clerk of Morpeth, besides otherwise
assisting me, has caused surveys to be made for my use of not fewer than
eighty of the strongholds of the Britons still existing on the heights
north of the Wall. To trace the movements of the brave people whom the
Romans drove to the more inaccessible portions of the island, would have
been an interesting sequel to the account of the Roman Wall, but I found
the undertaking too great for me.

It is with no ordinary emotion that I write the last lines of a work to
the preparation of which I have devoted the leisure of three years. The
Wall and I must now part company. Gladly would I have withheld the
publication of this work for the Horatian period, and have spent the
interval in renewed investigations; though even then I should have felt
that I had fallen short of

                  ‘The height of this great argument;’

other cares, however, now demand my attention.

_Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1 January, 1851._

                          LIST OF SUBSCRIBERS.

   Patron of the Society of Antiquaries of
   Newcastle-upon-Tyne.                             _Quarto and octavo._

 THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE EARL GREY, Lord Lieutenant of the County of




   NORTHUMBERLAND.                                  _Quarto and octavo._


 SIR JOHN EDWARD SWINBURNE, BART., Capheaton, Northumberland, President
   of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

 SIR JOHN P. BOILEAU BART., F.R.S., Ketteringham, Norfolk, and Upper
   Brook-street, London.

 SIR WALTER CALVERLEY TREVELYAN, BART., Wallington, High  Sheriff of


 SIR FRANCIS PALGRAVE, K.H., F.R.S. Deputy Keeper of the Public Records,



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 Mr. William Richardson, 71, Percy-street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


       1. FRONTISPIECE—PONS ÆLII restored.

          The site of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the PONS ÆLII of
          the Romans, is here shewn. The ground on which it
          stands, rising abruptly from the bed of the river
          Tyne, to the height of about an hundred feet, is
          cut into three very remarkable tongues of land by
          four ravines, permeated by as many streams, which
          all disembogue in the Tyne. The easternmost and
          largest of these tongues of land is that formed by
          the Ouseburn and Pandon-dean; the smallest by
          Pandon-dean and the Lort-burn; and the
          westernmost, wheron stands the castle, and
          formerly the Roman station, by the Lort-burn and
          Skinner-burn. Extensive suburbs probably occupied
          all these eminences.

       2. TITLE—Modern Buildings on the site of PONS ÆLII.

          The Norman keep of the Castle of
          Newcastle-upon-Tyne; the Church of St. Nicholas;
          and the court-house for the county of
          Northumberland, built upon the site of the
          south-east corner of the station of PONS ÆLII.

       3. Plan of the course of the Roman Wall               _facing_ 1

          PART I.—AN EPITOME OF THE HISTORY OF ROMAN                  1

       4. Initial letter—altar from Corbridge                         1

       5. Coin of Claudius—DE BRITANNIS                               4

       6. Coin of Vespasian—ROMA RESURGES                             6

       7. Coin of Hadrian—ADVENTUS BRITANNIÆ                         11

       8. Coin of Hadrian—BRITANNIA                                  12

       9. Coin of Severus—VICTORIÆ BRITTANICÆ                        19

      10. Coin of Carausius—reverse, a galley                        22

      11. Coin of Carausius—reverse, a lion                          22

      12. Coin of Magnentius—reverse, Christian monogram             24

      13. Base of column—Housesteads                                 24


      14. Initial Letter—Roman Nails                                 43

      15. Plan of Barrier between CILURNUM and MAGNA—Plan of   _facing_
          CILURNUM[1] and contiguous Works—Plans of                  45
          individual Stations

      16. Section of Works, near eighteenth mile-stone               52

      17. Section of Works, west of Carraw                           52

      18. Mural Slab—ALA II. ASTURUM                                 61

      19. Altar to Fortune—COH. I. BATAVORUM                         62

      20. Altar to Jupiter—COH. I. TUNGRORUM                         63

      21. Written-Rock, on the river Gelt                      _facing_

      22. Letters on the Written-Rock                                82

      23. Form of Wall-Stone                                         83

      24. Junction of the west wall of Birdoswald with the           84

   25-27. Broaching of the Wall Stones                               85

   28-31. Marks on the Stones                                        86

      32. Sections and Elevations of the Masonry of the Wall   _facing_

      33. Herring-bone Masonry                                       91

      34. Written-Rock at Fallow-field-fell                         102

          PART III.-LOCAL DESCRIPTION OF THE WORKS.                 103

      35. Initial Letters—Balusters from the Wall                   103

      36. Altar to Jupiter—COH. IV. LINGONUM                        109

      37. Plan of Wallsend, SEGEDUNUM; Section of Mountain     _facing_
          and Works at Bradley                                      113

      38. Wallsend, looking East                               _facing_

      39. Plan of PONS ÆLII                                    _facing_

      40. Mercury, PONS ÆLII                                        129

   41-44. Coins of Hadrian found in the Bridge, PONS ÆLII           131

      45. Coin of Severus found in Bridge, PONS ÆLII                131

      46. Slab to the Campestral Mothers                            140

      47. Altar to Mars                                             142

      48. Altar to Mars                                             143

      49. Fragment of the Wall, near Denton                         145

      50. The Works at Heddon-on-the Wall                      _facing_

      51. The Works near Carr-hill                             _facing_

      52. Mural Slab—LEG. II. AUG.                                  163

      53. Slab—FULGUR DIVOM                                         164

      54. The Wall at Brunton                                  _facing_

      55. Remains of Roman Bridge over North Tyne              _facing_

      56. Miscellaneous Antiquities, Chesters, CILURNUM        _facing_

      57. Vault at CILURNUM                                         173

      58. Hypocausts at CILURNUM                                    174

      59. Ground Plan of Hypocausts, CILURNUM                       175

      60. River God, CILURNUM                                       178

      61. Hypocaust, CILURNUM                                  _facing_

      62. Funereal Slab, CILURNUM                                   184

      63. Funereal Slab of Horse Soldier, CILURNUM                  185

      64. Slab—ALA II. ASTURUM                                      186

      65. Statue of Cybele, CILURNUM                                189

      66. Group of Carved Stones, CILURNUM                          190

      67. Miscellaneous Antiquities, CILURNUM                  _facing_

      68. Samian Ware                                          _facing_

      69. Roman Spears, etc.                                   _facing_

      70. The Works, Tepper-moor                               _facing_

      71. Slab—COH. I. BATAVORUM                                    198

      72. Approach to Sewingshields                            _facing_

      73. Busy Gap                                                  208

      74. Junction of West Wall of Housesteads, BORCOVICUS,         216
          with the Wall

      75. Ground Plan of Gateway, Housesteads                       216

      76. Outside View of the West Portal, Housesteads              217

      77. Inside View of West Portal, Housesteads                   217

      78. Housesteads, BORCOVICUS, from the East               _facing_

      79. Broken Columns, BORCOVICUS                           _facing_

      80. Sculptured Figures, BORCOVICUS                       _facing_

      81. Sculptured Figures, etc.                             _facing_

      82. Figure of Victory                                         226

      83. Sepulchral Slab to a young Physician                      227

      84. Slab to Hadrian, Bradley                                  232

      85. Slab to Hadrian, Milking-gap                              234

      86. Altar to Fortune, Chesterholm                             237

      87. Hypocaust Pillar                                          238

      88. Milestone at Chesterholm, VINDOLANA                  _facing_

      89. Altar to Genius of the Pretorium                          240

      90. Symbol, LEG. XX.                                          241

      91. Part of Slab to Hadrian                                   241

      92. Coping-stone, Roman ‘broaching’                           242

      93. The Crags, West of Craglough                         _facing_

      94. The Wall at Steel-rig                                _facing_

      95. Mural Stone, LEG. XX. V.V.                                247

      96. Mile-castle at Cawfield                              _facing_

      97. Part of Slab to Hadrian                                   251

      98. Tablet to Hadrian                                         256

      99. Plan of ancient Water-course, Great Chesters,        _facing_
          ÆSICA                                                     257

     100. Nine-nicks of Thirlwall                                   265

     101. Lamp, Fibula, Shears, and Compasses                  _facing_

     102. Stone Effigy                                              272

     103. Section of Works near Wallend                             273

     104. Slab to Hadrian, by LEG. XX. V. V.                        274

     105. Altar to Jupiter, by COH. I. AEL. DAC.                    278

     106. West Gateway, Birdoswald, AMBOGLANNA                      280

     107. Mural Stone, LEG. VI. V. F.                               281

     108. Birdoswald, western Rampart                          _facing_

     109. Section of Works, Wallbours                               283

     110. Coin of Severus, JULIA                                    289

     111. Coin of Caracalla                                         289

     112. Coin of Geta                                              289

     113. Altar to Jupiter, COH. II. TUNGR.                         290

     114. View of Pigeon Crag                                       292

     115. Mural Stone, LEG. II. AUG.                                294

     116. Altar—_ob res trans vallum prospere gestas_               302

     117. Bowness                                              _facing_

     118. Monument to Edward I.                                     314


     119. Initial A, and Mural Slab, Risingham                      315

     120. Tablet, GYRUM CUMBAS                                      319

     121. Tablet found at Jarrow                                    323

     122. Corbridge Lanx                                            335

     123. Altar to Astarte                                          338

     124. Crypt of Hexham Abbey Church                              339

     125. Slab to Severus at Hexham                                 340

     126. Genius of the Wall                                        353

     127. Altar to Jupiter for the safety of Severus                360

     128. Altar to Jupiter, Maryport                                363

     129. Slab to Hadrian, Moresby                                  367

     130. Symbol of LEG. XX.                                        368

          PART V.—THE QUESTION—WHO BUILT THE                        369

     131. Initial O, bronze ornament found at BORCOVICUS            369

     132. Slab, LEG. II. and LEG. XX.                               392

          LINE OF THE WALL.

     133. Initial M, bronze ornament, an Eagle, found at            393

     134. Altar, DEO VETRI                                          395

     135. Large Altar to Jupiter                                    397

     136. Altar, GENIO LOCI, etc.                                   399

     137. Altar, DEO COCIDIO                                        401

     138. Altar, DEO BELATUCADRO                                    401

     139. Altar to Minerva                                          402

     140. Altar to Fortune                                          403

     141. Altar to Mithras                                          404

     142. Altar to the Sun                                          405

     143. Attendant of Mithras                                      406

     144. Altar to Mithras                                          407

     145. Zodiacal Tablet, BORCOVICUS                               409

     146. Pine-apple Ornament, etc., CILURNUM                       410

     147. Presumed Mithraic Sculpture, CILURNUM                     410

     148. Altar to Apollo, Cawfield mile-castle                     411

     149. Inscription to the Syrian Goddess, MAGNA                  412

     150. Altar to Silvanus, AMBOGLANNA                             413

     151. Altar to the Nymphs, HABITANCUM                           414

     152. Altar to the Gods of the Mountains, VINDOBALA             415

     153. Altar to Epona, MAGNA                                     415

     154. Altar, sculptured with a Toad, CILURNUM                   416

     155. Altar to Viteres, Thirlwall-castle                        416

     156. Altar to Viteres, CONDERCUM                               417

     157. Altar to the Dea Hamia, Thirlwall-castle                  417

     158. Altar to the Three Lamiæ, CONDERCUM                       418

  159-60. Egyptian Idols                                            418

     161. Altar to the Transmarine Mothers, HABITANCUM              419

     162. Sculpture to the Deæ Matres, at Netherby                  420

     163. Sculpture to the Deæ Matres, at Netherby                  420

     164. Sculpture to the Deæ Matres, at Netherby                  420

     165. Sculpture to the Deæ Matres, at Nether-hall               421

     166. Sepulchral Altar to the Manes of Fabia Honorata,          426

     167. Sepulchral Slab to the Manes of Aurelia Faia,             428

     168. Sepulchral Slab to the Memory of Cornelius Victor,        429

     169. Centurial Stone, COH. V. CÆCILII PROCULI, CILURNUM        430

     170. Centurial Stone, CILURNUM                                 430

     171. Vessel, in which the Thorngrafton Coins were found        434

 172-224. The Thorngrafton Coins, imperial, consular, and       435-441

     225. Samian Ware, from Wallsend and Lanchester            _facing_

     226. Bronze Vessels      _facing_                              445

     227. Iron Pot, Bronze Vessel, Tongs, etc.                 _facing_

     228. Soles of Sandals, etc.      _facing_                      445

     229. Tail piece—ROMÆ ÆTERNÆ FORTUNÆ REDUCI                     450


Footnote 1:

  The Plan represents the position of each stone now remaining in the
  river. It is the result of a series of observations made during the
  summer of 1850, by Mr. Robert Elliot, of Wall. Most of the stones have



                                                               _PLATE I_


  _A. Reid, Sc 117, Pilgrim S^t. Newcastle._



                      ~The Roman Barrier of the
                          Lower Isthmus.~

                                PART I.

IN no country of the world are there such evident traces of the march of
Roman legions as in Britain. In the northern parts of England
especially, the footprints of the Empire are very distinct.
Northumberland, as Wallis long ago remarked, is Roman ground. Every
other monument in Britain yields in importance to THE WALL. As this
work, in grandeur of conception, is worthy of the Mistress of Nations,
so, in durability of structure, is it the becoming offspring of the
Eternal City.

A dead wall may seem to most a very unpromising subject. The stones are
indeed inanimate, but he who has a head to think, and a heart to feel,
will find them suggestive of bright ideas and melting sympathies; though
dead themselves, they will be the cause of mental life in him. A large
part of the knowledge which we possess of the early history of our
country has been dug out of the ground. The spade and the plough of the
rustic have often exposed documents, which have revealed the movements,
as well as the modes of thought and feeling, of those who have slept in
the dust for centuries. The casual wanderer by the relics of the Vallum
and the Wall, may not succeed in culling facts that are new to the
Historian, but he will probably get those vivid glances into Roman
character, and acquire that personal interest in Roman story, which will
give to the prosaic records of chroniclers, a reality, and a charm,
which they did not before possess.

As a natural introduction to the subject, and as a means of preparing
for some discussions which are to follow, it may be well briefly to
trace the progress of the Roman arms in Britain, from the arrival of
Cæsar on our shores, to the eventual abandonment of the island.


It is curious to observe, that the curtain of British history is raised
by some of the earliest and greatest of profane writers. Herodotus, who
wrote about the year B.C. 450, mentions the "Cassiterides, from which
tin is procured"; Aristotle, about the year B.C. 340, expressly names
the islands of Albion and Ierne; and Polybius, about the year B.C. 160,
makes a distinct reference to the "Britannic Isles." To Julius Cæsar,
however, we are indebted, for the first detailed account of Britain and
its inhabitants. On 26 Aug. B.C. 55, that renowned conqueror landed in
Britain, with a force of about ten thousand men. Both on that occasion,
and on a second attempt, which, with a larger force, he made the year
following, he met with a warm reception from the savage islanders. Tides
and tempests seconded the efforts of the natives, and great Julius bade
Britain a final farewell, without erecting any fortress in it, or
leaving any troops to secure his conquest. Tacitus says, that he did not
conquer Britain, but only shewed it to the Romans. Horace, calling upon
Augustus to achieve the conquest, denominates it 'untouched'—

                 Intactus aut Britannus ut descenderet
                     Sacra catenatus via.

and Propertius, in the same spirit, describes it as ‘unconquered,’
_invictus_. There is, therefore, little exaggeration in the lines of

                            ... A kind of conquest
           Cæsar made here; but made not here his brag
           Of, came, and saw, and overcame: with shame
           (The first that ever touched him) he was carried
           From off our coast, twice beaten; and his shipping
           (Poor ignorant baubles!) on our terrible seas,
           Like egg-shells moved upon their surges, cracked
           As easily 'gainst our rocks.


During the reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, and Caligula, Britain was
unmolested by foreign invasion.

At the invitation of a discontented Briton, Claudius resolved to attempt
the reduction of the island. In the year of our Lord 43, he sent Aulus
Plautius, with four legions and their auxiliaries, amounting in all to
about fifty thousand men, into Britain. It was with difficulty that the
troops could be induced to engage in the undertaking. They were
unwilling, as Dion Cassius informs us, "to engage in a war, as it were,
_out of the world_." The fears of the soldiery were not without
foundation. The Britons, though their inferiors in discipline and arms,
were not behind them in valour and spirit, whilst, in a knowledge of the
country they had an important advantage.


The year following, Claudius personally engaged in the war. He advanced
into the country, as far as Camelodunum (Colchester), and after some
sanguinary contests, received the submission of the natives in that
vicinity. The estimation in which Britain, even at this time, was held,
was such, that the Senate, on learning what he had achieved, surnamed
him BRITANNICUS, granted him a triumph, and voted him annual games. The
event was of sufficient importance, to be celebrated on the current coin
of the day. Several gold and silver pieces have come down to our times,
bearing on the reverse, a triumphal arch, on which is inscribed the
words DE BRITANN_is_—Over the Britons. This is the first occasion on
which allusion is made to Britain, on the coinage of Rome.


On the return of Claudius, the supreme command again devolved upon his
lieutenant, Aulus Plautius, who succeeded in bringing into complete
subjection, the tribes occupying the southern portion of the island. In
this expedition, Vespasian, afterwards emperor, acted as second in
command to Plautius. Titus, the son of Vespasian, accompanied his
father. Thus was it, in Britain, that the destroyers of Jerusalem were
unconsciously trained for inflicting upon God’s chosen, but sinful
people, the chastisements of His displeasure.

Ostorius Scapula, A.D. 50, succeeded to the command in Britain. The
brave Silures, headed by Caractacus, rendered his progress slow and
bloody. Ostorius at length sank under the harassing nature of his

In the reign of Nero, Roman affairs in Britain received a severe check.
The Iceni, led on by their enraged queen Boadicea, threw off the yoke
and attacked the principal stations of the enemy. London, which was then
an important commercial city, fell, upon the first assault, and Verulam
(near the modern St. Albans) shared the same fate. The British
warrior-queen sullied the splendour of her exploits by her cruelty;
seventy thousand Romans, or adherents of the government of Rome, fell
under her hands. Suetonius, the Roman governor, collecting his forces,
gave battle to the queen and routed her. A frightful carnage ensued; of
the amazing number of two hundred and thirty thousand men of which the
British forces are said to have consisted, not less than eighty thousand

During the remainder of the reign of Nero, and the short rule of his
three successors, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, no advance was made in the
conquest of Britain. In the strifes of the rival emperors, it was
however destined to bear its part. Eight thousand soldiers were drafted
from it to fight under the banners of Vitellius. Thus early, as Dr.
Giles well observes, was this island, whose position in the bosom of the
ocean indicates a peaceful policy, induced to bear the brunt of
continental quarrels.



When Vespasian assumed the purple, a new era dawned upon the empire.
This fact is well indicated upon a coin struck at this period. In the
engraving, taken from a specimen found on the Wall, the emperor is
observed raising a prostrate female from the ground (doubtless Rome),
whilst Mars looks approvingly on; the inspiring motto “ROMA
RESURGES”—_Rome thou shalt rise again_,—encircles the group.[2]
Vespasian appointed Petilius Cerealis his proprætor in Britain, who in
five years succeeded in adding the Brigantes, a powerful tribe, to the
subjects of the empire. Julius Frontinus was his successor, who, in the
three years of his government, nearly subdued the warlike nation of the


One hundred and thirty-three years had now elapsed since the first
descent of Cæsar, and thirty-five years, since Claudius had claimed the
honour of conquering Britain, and yet but a fraction of the island was
in subjection to Roman power. Nothing, as Dr. Giles well remarks, can
more strongly shew the stubborn spirit of the natives, than their
protracted resistance to the invaders. Battle after battle had been
lost; but many of these tribes were still unsubdued, and several even


But the reputation of all preceding governors, was obscured by a greater
man than they. Cnæus Julius Agricola had served in Britain under some
preceding commanders; so that when he landed as governor in the year 78
he was prepared to act with all the promptitude which a knowledge of the
country and the people could give him. During the eight years of his
rule, he subjugated the remaining tribes of southern Britain, carried
his arms into the northern section of the island, and drove, in
successive campaigns, the natives before him, until at length, in the
battle of the Grampians, he paralyzed their strength for a while. He
circumnavigated the whole island, and planted the Roman standard upon
the Orkneys. He built walls and fortresses in all places where they were
required, and softened the fierceness of the barbarians, by fostering a
taste for letters and the luxuries of the Eternal City. But it is
necessary to trace the movements of Agricola, with some of the detail
with which they are given in the pages of Tacitus.

  The summer of A.D. 78 was far spent when he arrived; yet before going
  into winter quarters, he attacked and subdued the Ordovices, and
  brought the sacred isle of Anglesea a second time to obedience. The
  respite from arms which the following winter afforded, was employed by
  the general in the most useful and necessary purposes. Being well
  acquainted with the temper of the inhabitants of the province, and
  having learnt from the conduct and experience of others, that what is
  gained by force avails little, where oppressions and grievances
  follow, he determined to put an immediate end to all the causes of the
  war. He began by checking and regulating the affairs of his own
  household, correcting the abuses that had crept into the army,
  promoting impartially those who deserved it; while at the same time he
  redressed the grievances of the inhabitants, made an equitable
  distribution of the public burthens, and abolished all hurtful
  monopolies. By the prosecution of measures so salutary as these, six
  months had scarcely elapsed, when affairs in Britain were entirely
  changed, and assumed a bright and settled aspect.

His second campaign, that of the year 79, was probably occupied in
subduing the ancient tenants of the LOWER ISTHMUS of the island.

  On the approach of summer, he re-assembled his army, and in advancing,
  failed not to excite a proper spirit of emulation among the troops,
  praising those who best observed their several duties, and checking
  such as were remiss. He himself chose the ground for encamping; the
  marshes, firths, and difficult places, he always examined first; and,
  allowing the enemy no respite, he continually harassed them with
  sudden incursions and ravages. Having alarmed and terrified them
  sufficiently, he next tried the effect of good usage and the
  allurements of peace. By this wise and prudent conduct, several
  communities, which till then had maintained their independence,
  submitted to the Romans, gave hostages, and suffered garrisons and
  fortresses to be placed among them. These strongholds he established
  with such judgment, as effectually secured all those parts of Britain
  which had then been visited by the Romans.

  The following winter was employed in civilizing and polishing the rude
  inhabitants, who, living wild and dispersed over the country, were
  thence ever restless and easily instigated to war. At first, they were
  prevailed upon to associate more together, and for this end were
  instructed in the art of building houses, temples, and places of
  public resort. The sons of their chiefs were taught the liberal
  sciences; hence it was no unusual thing to see those who lately
  scorned the Roman language, become admirers of its eloquence. By
  degrees, the customs, manners, and dress of their conquerors, became
  familiar to them, they acquired a taste for a life of inactivity and
  ease, and at length were caught by the charms and incitements of
  luxury and vice. By such as judged of things from their external
  appearance only, all this was styled politeness and humanity, while,
  in reality, Agricola was effectually enslaving them, and imperceptibly
  rivetting their chains.

  During the third year of his command, he pushed his conquests
  northwards, and carried his devastations as far as the mouth of the
  Tay (_Taus_.) Here, the enemy were struck with so much terror, that
  they durst not attack the Roman army, though it was greatly distressed
  by the severities of the climate. Agricola, in order to secure
  possession of these advanced conquests, again erected forts in the
  most commodious situations; and so judiciously was this done, that
  none of them were ever taken by force, abandoned through fear, or
  given up on terms of capitulation. Each fort defended itself, and,
  against any long siege, was constantly supplied with provisions for a
  year. Thus the several garrisons not only passed the winter in perfect
  security, but were likewise enabled, from these strongholds, to make
  frequent excursions against the enemy, who could not, as heretofore,
  repair the losses they had sustained in summer, by the successes
  usually attending their winter expeditions.

The forts here referred to, are probably those, which were drawn along
the UPPER ISTHMUS of the island, extending from the Firth of Forth to
the Firth of Clyde, and which were afterwards connected by the wall of
Antoninus Pius.

This is rendered apparent from what follows:—

  Agricola employed the fourth summer (A.D. 81) in settling and further
  securing the country he had subdued. Here, had it been compatible with
  the bravery of the army, or if the glory of the Roman name would have
  permitted it, there had been found a boundary to their conquests in
  Britain; for the tide, entering from opposite seas, and flowing far
  into the country by the rivers Glotta and Bodotria, their heads are
  only separated by a narrow neck of land, which was occupied by
  garrisons. Of all on this side, the Romans were already masters, the
  enemy being driven, as it were, into another island.


It is not necessary to pursue the operations of Agricola further. In the
seventh summer he defeated Galgacus on the flanks of the Grampians. The
Roman power was now at its height. Agricola, probably from motives of
jealousy, was recalled by the emperor Domitian, and as his successors
were not men of the same vigour as himself, the barbarians were in a
condition, at least to dispute the pretensions of their conquerors.


In the year 120—thirty-five years after the recall of Agricola—affairs
in Britain had fallen into such confusion, as to require the presence of
the emperor HADRIAN, who had assumed the imperial purple three years
before. He did not attempt to regain the conquests which Agricola had
made in Scotland, but prudently sought to make the line of forts, which
that general had constructed in his second campaign, the limit of his
empire. With this object in view, he drew a wall across the island—the
BARRIER of the LOWER ISTHMUS. The testimony of Spartian, the historian
of his reign, though brief, is decisive. Hadrian, says he, visited
Britain, when he corrected many things, and first drew a wall (_murus_)
eighty miles in length, to divide the barbarians from the Romans.

The arrival in Britain, of Hadrian, one of Rome’s greatest generals, was
thought an event of sufficient importance to be commemorated in the
currency of the empire. The large brass coin, here represented, was
struck by decree of the Senate in the year 121.[3]



The plans and the prowess of the emperor were thought to have
effectually secured those portions of the island, which it was prudent
to retain in the grasp of Rome. This circumstance was announced to the
world in another coin, bearing, on the reverse, a name destined to sound
through regions Hadrian never knew—BRITANNIA—and representing a female
figure seated on a rock, having a spear in her left hand, and a shield
by her side.[4]


About twenty years after Hadrian’s expedition, Lollius Urbicus took the
command in Britain. He was not satisfied with the limits which Hadrian
had prudently assigned to the empire in Britain. Forcing back the
Britons, he raised an earthen rampart across the isthmus between the
Forth and the Clyde. Graham’s Dike, in Scotland, is the wall which was
built by Lollius Urbicus. This is proved by the numerous sculptures
which have, at different times, been discovered among its ruins.


The remaining history of the Romans, on the northern frontier of
England, is fraught with disaster. The tide of war sometimes broke upon
the northern, and sometimes on the southern boundary; but its roar and
its devastation ceased not, until the Roman intruder had been driven
altogether from the island—or, rather, until the successive strifes of
Romans and Picts, Normans and Saxons, Border reavers and Scottish
troopers, had been hushed, under the vigorous rule of the last of the
Tudors. What Hadrian could not do, for the inhabitants of the North of
England; what Severus failed to accomplish; what the great Alfred—the
Norman oppressor—the Plantagenets—the despotic Henry VIII., attempted in
vain, was accomplished under what John Knox calls ‘the monstrous
regiment of a woman.’ Then, a ‘bright occidental star’ beamed upon these
Northern Parts, and Law began to assert its supremacy.

Marcus Antoninus, who succeeded Antoninus Pius, was far from enjoying
the tranquillity which the northern rampart was expected to give. He was
obliged to carry on very troublesome wars with the Britons, and with
much difficulty kept them in check.


In the reign of Commodus, who became sole emperor A.D. 180, the Britons,
as we are told by Xiphiline, who abridged the history of Dion, broke
through the wall which separated them from the Roman province, killed
the general, ruined the army, and, in their ravages, carried everything
before them. The wall referred to, was probably that of the Lower
Isthmus; for, as Horsley conjectures, "the Caledonians had broken
through the wall of Antoninus Pius not long after it was erected," and
certain it is, "that we meet with no inscriptions on the wall of
Antoninus but what belong to his reign."

The circumstance, that the loathsome and ferocious Commodus assumed the
title of BRITANNICUS, is no proof that success attended his arms. He was
the first person who had ascribed to him the conjoined titles of _Pius_
and _Felix_; but, as Lampridius satirically observes, "When he had
appointed the adulterer of his mother a consul, he was called _Pius_;
when he had slain Perennis, he was called _Felix_; and when the Britons
were ready to choose another emperor, he was flattered with the title of

During the time that Septimius Severus, Pescennius Niger, and Clodius
Albinus contended with each other for the empire, the northern Britons
were held feebly in check. At length, A.D. 197, Severus prevailed, and
became sole master of the world. Virius Lupus became his proprætor in
Britain. Unable to resist the attacks of the Caledonians in the field,
and having in vain attempted to purchase their submission with money,
his lieutenant sent hasty letters to the emperor, entreating succour,
and, if possible, his presence.

It is stated by Richard of Cirencester, that about this time the PICTS,
a tribe to which reference will presently be made, first landed in
Scotland. The extraordinary successes, as Dr. Giles remarks, which the
Caledonians gained, prior to the arrival of Severus, confirm the
supposition that they received considerable reinforcements from abroad.


SEVERUS came at the call of his lieutenant. Both Herodian and Xiphiline
give us an account of the proceedings of this renowned emperor in
Britain, and as their narratives are not only interesting in themselves,
but important in the investigation of some subsequent questions, it will
be well to avail ourselves of their statements. Herodian says—

  Whilst Severus was under a mighty concern about the conduct of his two
  sons, he received letters from the governor of Britain, informing him
  of the insurrections and inroads of the barbarians, and the havoc they
  made far and near, and begging, either a greater force, or that the
  emperor would come over himself. Severus, for several reasons, was
  pleased with the news, and, notwithstanding his age and infirmity,
  resolved to go over in person. And though, by reason of the gout upon
  him, he was forced to be carried in a litter, yet, he entered upon the
  journey with a juvenile briskness and courage, and performed it with
  great expedition. He quickly crossed the sea, and as soon as he came
  upon the island, having gathered a very great force together, he made
  ready for war. The Britons, being alarmed and terrified, would fain
  have excused themselves, and treated about peace. But Severus,
  unwilling to lose his labour, or to miss the glory of being called
  BRITANNICUS, dismissed their ambassadors, and carried on his military
  preparations. Particularly, he took care to make bridges or causeys
  through the marshes, that the soldiers might travel and fight upon dry

Herodian next gives a short description of the inhabitants, and says

  Many parts of Britain were become fenny, by the frequent inundations
  of the sea. The natives swim through those fens, or run through them
  up to the waist in mud; for, the greatest part of their bodies being
  naked, they regard not the dirt. They wear iron about their necks and
  bellies, esteeming this as fine and rich an ornament as others do
  gold. They make upon their bodies the figures of divers animals, and
  use no clothing, that they may be exposed to view. They are a very
  bloody and warlike people, using a little shield or target, and a
  spear. Their sword hangs on their naked bodies. They know not the use
  of a breastplate and helmet, and imagine these would be an impediment
  to them in passing the fens. The air is always thick with the vapours
  that ascend from these marshes.


The historian proceeds with his story—

  Severus provided everything which might be of service to his own
  people, and distress the enemy. And when all things were in sufficient
  readiness, he left Geta, in that part of the island which was subject
  to the Romans, to administer justice and manage civil affairs,
  appointing some elderly friends to be his assistants. His son
  Antoninus, better known by the name of Caracalla, he took with him
  when he marched against the barbarians. The Roman army passing the
  rivers and trenches, which were the boundaries of the empire,
  skirmished often in a tumultuous manner with the barbarians, and as
  often put them to flight. But it was easy for them to escape and to
  hide themselves in the woods and fens, being well acquainted with the
  country, whereas the Romans laboured under the opposite disadvantages.
  By these means the war was prolonged. Severus, being old and infirm,
  and confined at home, would have committed the management of the war
  to his son Antoninus. But he, neglecting the barbarians, endeavoured
  to gain the Roman army, with a view to the empire. During his father’s
  lingering sickness he endeavoured to prevail with the physicians and
  servants to despatch him. At last Severus died, worn out with sorrow,
  more than disease.

It will be observed, that in this detailed account of the proceedings of
Severus in Britain, not the least allusion is made to the construction
of a wall.


Dion Cassius was contemporary with Severus. That portion of his work
which narrates the transactions of this emperor in Britain, is
unfortunately lost, but an epitome of it, prepared by Xiphiline,
remains. From this abridgment the following extracts are taken.

  Severus, observing that his two sons were abandoned to their
  pleasures, and that the soldiers neglected their exercises, undertook
  an expedition against Britain, though he was persuaded, from his
  horoscope, that he never should return from thence to Italy. Nor did
  he ever return from this expedition, but died three years after he
  first set out from Rome. He got a prodigious mass of riches in
  Britain. The two most considerable bodies of the people in that
  island, and to which almost all the rest relate, are the Caledonians
  and the Mæatæ. The latter dwell near the barrier wall which separates
  the island into two parts; the others live beyond them. Both of them
  inhabit barren uncultivated mountains, or desert marshy plains, where
  they have neither walls nor towns, nor manured lands, but feed upon
  the milk of their flocks, upon what they get by hunting, and some wild

The mode in which he speaks of the Wall, in this passage, implies its
existence at the time of the arrival of Severus. The historian, after
giving an interesting account of the manners of the inhabitants,

  We are masters of little less than half the island. Severus, having
  undertaken to reduce the whole under his subjection, entered into
  Caledonia, where he had endless fatigues to sustain, forests to cut
  down, mountains to level, morasses to dry up, and bridges to build. He
  had no battle to fight, and saw no enemies in a body; instead of
  appearing, they exposed their flocks of sheep and oxen, with design to
  surprise our soldiers that should straggle from the army for the sake
  of plunder. The waters, too, extremely incommoded our troops, insomuch
  that some of our soldiers being able to march no farther, begged of
  their companions to kill them, that they might not fall alive into
  their enemies’ hands. In a word, Severus lost fifty thousand men
  there, and yet quitted not his enterprise. He went to the extremity of
  the island, where he observed very exactly the course of the sun in
  those parts, and the length of the days and nights both in summer and
  winter. He was carried all over the island in a close chair, by reason
  of his infirmities, and made a treaty with the inhabitants, by which
  he obliged them to relinquish part of their country to him.

The peace thus purchased, by the cession of the northern portion of the
island, was badly observed. The inhabitants having taken up arms,
contrary to the faith of treaties, Severus commanded his soldiers to
enter their country, and to put all they met to the sword. He is said to
have signified his savage intention, by quoting, from Homer, the lines
which Cowper thus translates:

                               .... Die the race!
               May none escape us! neither he who flies,
               Nor even the infant in the mother’s womb


But in the midst of his enterprise he was taken off by a distemper, to
which, it was said, Antoninus, by his undutiful conduct, had very much
contributed. He died at York, Feb. 4th, A.D. 211.



The coins of Severus record his victories. One of them is represented
beneath. On the obverse is the laureated head of the ferocious
African—on the reverse are two winged victories, attaching a buckler to
a palm tree, at the foot of which two captives mournfully sit. The
legend, VICTORIAE BRITTANNICAE, declares who these captives are. Times
are changed! wide as ocean rolls, the burden of Britannia’s song
exultingly declares, 'Britons never will be slaves,'—and, better still,
Britain has long been actively engaged in rescuing from chains the sable
sons of that continent in which Severus first drew breath.

Another curious record of the wars of Severus is found in the poems of
Ossian. The CARACUL, son of the ‘King of the World,’ in the dramatic
piece ‘Comala,’ is supposed to be Caracalla.

  DERSAGRENA. These are the signs of Fingal’s death. The King of shields
  is fallen! and CARACUL prevails.

  COMALA. Ruin overtake thee, THOU KING OF THE WORLD! Few be thy steps
  to the grave; and let one virgin mourn thee!

  MELICOMA. What sound is that on Ardven? Who comes like the strength of
  rivers, when their crowded waters glitter to the moon?

  COMALA. Who is it but the foe of Comala, THE SON OF THE KING OF THE
  WORLD! Ghost of Fingal! do thou from thy cloud, direct Comala’s

  FINGAL. Raise ye bards, the song! CARACUL has fled from our arms along
  the fields of his pride.

After the death of Severus, a long period elapsed, in which the Roman
historians observe a profound silence respecting the affairs of Britain.
Local records and native historians supply but feebly the deficiency.
During the reign of Gallienus, which extended from A.D. 260 to 268, a
large number of usurpers arose, who are commonly denominated the Thirty
Tyrants. Of these Lollianus, Victorianus, Postumus, the two Tetrici, and
Marius, are supposed to have assumed the sovereignty in this island; for
their coins have been dug up more abundantly here than elsewhere.


Diocletian commenced his reign in the year 284. Though he was a man of
energy and ability, the care of a crumbling empire was too much for him,
and he divided his honours and anxieties with Maximian. Increasing
perplexities a few years afterwards induced the emperors to appoint two
Cæsars. Diocletian chose Galerius Maximianus, and Maximian nominated
Constantius Chlorus. To Constantius was assigned the charge of Britain,
where he eventually found a grave. He was the father of Constantine the


During a portion of the united reign of Diocletian and Maximian, Britain
assumed an independent position. In order to repress, in the northern
seas, the ravages of the Franks and Saxons, who about this period began
to demand a place in the world’s history, Carausius was appointed to the
command of ‘the channel fleet.’ Gesoriacum, the modern Boulogne, was his
place of rendezvous. Carausius, who was an expert seaman, exerted
himself, at first, with extraordinary success, against the pirates.
Afterwards, it was observed that he consulted his own interest, rather
than the public service. The emperors resolved upon his destruction.
Carausius, stimulated by self-preservation, as well as ambition, entered
into an alliance with his former foes, the Franks and Saxons, and
declared himself emperor of Britain. He was favourably received by the
natives of the island, and for seven years wielded the sovereignty of
his empire with vigour and ability. He repelled the Mæatæ and the
Caledonians, and having subdued these tribes, attached them to his
interest. Nothing, observes Mr. Thackeray, can more fully prove the
maritime strength and resources of Great Britain, under an able ruler,
than the fact, that Carausius for seven years bade defiance to the Roman
power; and at the end of that time fell, not overcome by the imperial
forces, but by private treachery. Never before, nor until several
hundred years after this period, was the country firmly united under the
government of one sovereign.

Constantius was preparing to invade Britain with a fleet of a thousand
ships, when Carausius was murdered by Allectus, whom he had trusted as
his dearest friend. For about three years the assassin held, though with
a less firm grasp, the power formerly possessed by his victim.



A very numerous suite of coins commemorates the successes of Carausius,
and vindicates his claim to a share in the empire of the world. Two
coins are represented here. On the reverse of one is a galley, which
indicates the chief source of his strength, and on the reverse of the
other is a lion with a thunderbolt in its mouth, significative, not only
of the bold bearing which the ancient sea-king assumed, but of that
which his successors in modern times have maintained.

Carausius, according to Macpherson, is the CAROS of Ossian. The
following extract, upon this supposition, contains a remarkable allusion
to the Wall.

  Who comes towards my son, with the murmur of a song! His staff is in
  his hand, his grey hair loose on the wind. Surly joy lightens his
  face. He often looks back to CAROS.

  It is Ryno of Songs, he that went to view the foe. "What does CAROS,
  KING OF SHIPS?" said the son of the now mournful Ossian; "spreads he
  the wings of his pride,[5] bard of the times of old?"

  "He spreads them, Oscar," replied the bard, "but it is behind his
  GATHERED HEAP. He looks over his STONES with fear. He beholds thee
  terrible, as the ghost of night, that rolls the wave to his ships!"


It would be improper to leave the reign of Diocletian without remarking,
that under it, the church of Christ endured the last and most terrible
of the ten persecutions, which pagan Rome inflicted upon the followers
of the cross. Britain did not escape. Alban and many others, as Gildas
and Bede inform us, were martyrs for the faith.

On the withdrawal, in the year 305, of Diocletian and Maximian from the
cares of empire, Galerius and Constantius became the rulers of the

Constantine, afterwards surnamed the Great, was proclaimed emperor, on
the death of his father Constantius, at York. After a protracted
struggle with several rivals, he became, A.D. 313, sole possessor of the
imperial power. He was the first Christian Emperor, and, in token of his
faith, inscribed the monogram of the Redeemer upon his banner, and his
coin. The circumstances under which he adopted this step are thus

  Constantine was in Gaul, and having heard of the opposition of his
  rival, who was in possession of Rome, he immediately crossed the Alps,
  and proceeded against him. When near Verona, on his march, and
  meditating the difficulties of his situation, he was roused from deep
  thought by a bright light, which suddenly illumined the sky, and,
  looking up, he saw the sun, which was in its meridian, surmounted by a
  cross of fire, and beneath it this inscription, τουτῳ νικα—"IN THIS
  CONQUER." He immediately adopted the cross as his ensign, and formed
  on the spot the celebrated Labarum, or Christian standard, which was
  ever after substituted for the Roman eagle. This, as Eusebius
  describes it, was a spear crossed by an arrow, on which was suspended
  a velum, having inscribed on it the monogram, ☧ formed by the Greek
  letters _Chi_ and _Rho_, the initials of the name of Christ. Under
  this he marched forward, and rapidly triumphed over all his enemies;
  and, struck with the preternatural warning he had received, and its
  consequences, he now publicly embraced the doctrines of that religion
  under whose banner he had conquered.[6]


The monogram is well displayed on the reverse of a coin of
Magnentius,[7] which is here represented. The Alpha and Omega, which
accompany the symbol, indicate the faith of the emperor in the divinity
of Christ—‘the beginning and the ending, which is, and which was, and
which is to come, the Almighty.’

Constantine removed the imperial seat from Rome to Constantinople.


During the life-time of Constantine, Britain partook of the civil
tranquillity of the rest of the world; but in the reign of his immediate
successors, the Picts and Scots renewed their incursions into the lower
province. This was not the only evil which Roman Britain had to endure.
Magnentius, a native of the isle, entered into a contest with
Constantius II. for the empire of the world, and in support of his
claims, collected an army, (chiefly drawn from Britain) with which he
three times met his foe. On the death of Magnentius, by his own hands,
in the year 353, his successful rival inflicted a bloody revenge upon
the Britons for having supported their countryman: meanwhile the Picts
and Scots harassed them, on the north, with redoubled fury.


Little is recorded of Britain in the reign of Julian the Apostate. In
the time of Jovian his successor, the Picts, Saxons, and Scots, vexed it
by increasing calamities. Valentinian obtained the purple A.D. 364, when
the state of the country was so alarming as to require immediate
attention. Even London seems to have been menaced by the enemy, if it
was not actually in their hands. Theodosius, the ablest general of his
time, went to the assistance of the Britons, drove the enemy before him,
and recovered the provincial cities and forts. He then repaired the
cities and _prætenturæ_ and erected some new forts. Horsley thinks that
the Wall in the North of England, and the stations upon it, are the
_prætenturæ_ referred to.

Valentinian, having, in 367, united with himself in the government of
the empire, Gratian his son, died, A.D. 375. Six days afterwards, his
second son, Valentinian II. was proclaimed his successor. The two
brothers reigned together, Theodosius the Great presiding at the same
time in the Eastern provinces, until Gratian was killed A.D. 383. Four
years afterwards, Valentinian was robbed of the purple by Maximus, but
applied for assistance to his eastern colleague, Theodosius, and once
more entered Rome with imperial dignity. The sovereignty of Britain,
Gaul, and Spain was, however, still conceded, for the present, to
Maximus, who adopted Treves as the seat of his government.


In this struggle Britain suffered severely. Maximus, having served in
the island under the elder Theodosius, was a favourite with the
Romanized Britons. They flocked to his standard in such numbers that the
island seemed drained of its youth. More than a hundred thousand persons
are said to have accompanied him from Britain to the continent.

The loss of the native soldiery was severely felt in the North of
England, where the ruthless barbarians renewed their ravages without
molestation. The whole island, in the querulous language of its first
historian, Gildas,[8] "Deprived of all her armed soldiers and military
bands, was left to her cruel tyrants, deprived of the assistance of all
her youth who went with Maximus, and ignorant of the art of war, she
groaned in amazement for many years under the cruelty of the Picts and

Theodosius died A.D. 395. He left his dominions to his sons Arcadius and
Honorius, who permanently divided them into the empires of the East and
West. In the early part of the reign of Honorius, the province of
Britain, by the prudence of the emperor’s minister Stilicho, had
comparative rest from the incursions of the enemy. But when the Gothic
war diverted the attention of the government from so remote a province,
and the legions of Britain were called away to defend the seat of the
empire from the attacks of Alaric, the troubles which before distracted
the province, were again called into fearful operation. A spirit of
disaffection and revolt increased the evil. Marcus and Gratian were
successively declared emperors by the islanders, but were both speedily
murdered. Constantine was next raised to the sovereignty, an honour for
which he was indebted to his name, not his rank or fitness for the
office. Instead of endeavouring to secure the peace of Britain, he
transported his army to Gaul and made a successful stand against
Honorius. He was assassinated in the year 411.


Whilst Honorius was struggling with the usurper Constantine, he wrote
letters to the cities of Britain, conceding the independence of the
island, and urging them to adopt measures for their own government and
protection. The gift of liberty was to them a fatal boon. Their
implacable enemies, finding that the military science of the Romans no
longer protected the south, rushed forth to invade the undefended
province. The natives, in despair, turned to the still powerful name of
Rome, and dispatched messengers to entreat help from the emperor.—But
let Gildas ‘the wise,’ depict the closing scene of ancient Britain’s


  The Britons, impatient at the assaults of their enemies, send
  ambassadors to Rome, entreating, in piteous terms, the assistance of
  an armed band to protect them. A legion is immediately sent, provided
  sufficiently with arms. When they had crossed over the sea, and
  landed, they came at once to close conflict with their enemies, and
  slew great numbers of them. All of them were driven beyond the
  borders, and the humiliated natives rescued from the bloody slavery
  which awaited them. By the advice of their protectors, they now built
  a wall across the island, from one sea to the other, which, being
  manned with a proper force, might be a terror to the foes whom it was
  intended to repel, and a protection to their friends whom it covered.
  But this wall being made of turf, instead of stone, was of no use to
  that foolish people, who had no head to guide them.

  The Roman legion had no sooner returned home in joy and triumph, than
  their former foes, like hungry and ravening wolves, rushing with
  greedy jaws upon the fold, which is left without a shepherd, are
  wafted, both by the strength of oarsmen and the blowing wind, break
  through the boundaries, and spread slaughter on every side.

  And now again they send suppliant ambassadors, with their garments
  rent, and their heads covered with ashes, imploring assistance from
  the Romans, like timorous chickens crowding under the protecting wings
  of their parents. Upon this, the Romans, moved with compassion, send
  forward, like eagles in their flight, their bands of cavalry and
  mariners, and planting their terrible swords upon the shoulders of
  their enemies, mow them down like leaves which fall at their destined
  period. Having driven their enemies beyond the sea, the Romans left
  the country, giving them notice, that they could no longer be harassed
  by such laborious expeditions, but that the islanders, inuring
  themselves to warlike weapons, should valiantly protect their country,
  their property, their wives, and children; that they should not suffer
  their hands to be tied behind their backs, by a nation, which, unless
  they were enervated by idleness and sloth, was not more powerful than
  themselves, but that they should arm those hands with buckler, sword,
  and spear, ready for the field of battle; and, because they thought
  this also of advantage to the people they were about to leave, they,
  with the help of the miserable natives, built a wall, different from
  the former, by public and private contributions, and of the same
  structure as walls generally are, extending in a straight line from
  sea to sea, between some cities, which, from fear of their enemies,
  had then by chance been built.


  No sooner were they gone, than the Picts and Scots, like worms, which
  in the heat of mid-day, come forth from their holes, hastily land from
  their canoes, differing one from another in manners, but inspired with
  the same avidity for blood, and all, more eager to shroud their
  villainous faces in bushy hair, than to cover with decent clothing
  those parts of their body which required it. Moreover, having heard of
  the departure of our friends, and their resolution never to return,
  they seized, with greater boldness than before, on all the country
  towards the extreme north, as far as the Wall. To oppose them, there
  was placed on the heights, a garrison, equally slow to fight, and ill
  adapted to run away, a useless and panic-struck company, which
  slumbered away days and nights on their unprofitable watch. Meanwhile
  the hooked weapons of their enemies were not idle, and our wretched
  countrymen were dragged from the Wall, and dashed against the ground.
  Such premature death, however, painful as it was, saved them from
  seeing the miserable sufferings of their brothers and children. But
  why should I say more? They left their cities, abandoned the
  protection of the Wall, and dispersed themselves in flight more
  desperately than before.

Whilst the enemy butchered them like sheep, they increased their own
miseries by domestic feuds—

  They turned their arms upon each other, and for the sake of a little
  sustenance, imbrued their hands in the blood of their fellow

Again, in their distress, they applied to the Romans. In the address,
entitled ‘The Groans of the Britons,’ our author represents them as

  The barbarians drive us to the sea, the sea throws us back on the
  barbarians: thus two modes of death await us, we are either slain or

The Romans could not assist them, and, unwilling to assist themselves,
they sought and obtained the help of those ‘wolves’, as Gildas calls
them, the fierce and impious Saxons. The result is known to all—Celtic
Britain became Saxon England—and England, with all its faults,—has it
not been a blessing to the world?

The picture drawn by Gildas of the misery of the southern Britons, and
of the ravages of the northern barbarians, is doubtless correct; but, in
ascribing the erection of the earthen rampart, and the stone wall of the
LOWER BARRIER to the period of the departure of the Romans, he probably
leans upon the erring traditions of his own times. His statement is
devoid of probability. A work so bold in its design, so skilfully
planned, and involving so much labour in its execution, cannot have been
the result of the expiring energies of Rome in Britain. Its very ruins
bespeak the masculine vigour of Rome’s maturity.

Besides, if we receive the testimony of Gildas upon this point, we must
either suppose that several walls have been drawn across the island, or
we must reject the assertions of those classical writers who ascribe the
works to Hadrian or Severus. The former supposition cannot be
maintained, for we meet with no traces of more than one earthen vallum,
and one stone wall, in the region in question; and with reference to the
latter alternative, it is more likely that Gildas should err in his
dates, than that Dion Cassius, and Herodian, and Spartian, should
describe, as existing in their day, that which was not to be for


Another question will arise in the mind of the thoughtful reader;—how
was it that the Britons suffered themselves to become so easy a prey to
the Picts and Scots? Roman civilization could not, greatly at least,
have enervated them. The cultivation of the liberal arts removes from
the minds and manners of men their unsightly asperities, but it brings
out in bolder relief their more valuable qualities. The vices of the
Romans, when grafted upon the previously polluted life of the Britons,
would indeed have a tendency to unman them, but why should it have sunk
them beneath the level of the Romans themselves? We do not find,
moreover, that the Britons who fought in foreign parts were deficient in


An acquaintance with Roman discipline, a knowledge of the Roman art of
war, ought to have given them great advantages over their less civilized
neighbours on the north of the Wall, and enabled them easily to have
retained that great structure as a boundary fence.[9] It is true that
great numbers of their youth had from time to time been drafted off by
successive emperors, to engage in foreign quarrels, and that thus the
land was deprived of its natural defenders. This accounts for a part of
their distress, but not all. In a rude state of society, every man is a
soldier, and it was an essential part of the policy of Rome to inure
every citizen to the practice of arms. There surely would be men enough
left to defend their homes, their liberties, and lives! Besides, half a
century elapsed between the time when the Romans began to leave Britain
to its own resources, and their final refusal of all succour. There was
thus time enough to have nurtured a whole generation of veterans; and
there was time enough—if the energy had been in them—to have shaken off
those feelings of dependence upon Rome, which the presence of their
conquerors had fostered. The opportunity, however, was lost; they
entreated, and wept, and groaned—and passed off the stage of this
world’s history. How are we adequately to account for this circumstance?
[Sidenote: THE GENEALOGY OF THE PICTS AND SCOTS.]This is not the place
to discuss the genealogy of the Picts, but if we adopt the theory of
their Germanic origin,[10] the enigma, if not made quite plain, will
appear less difficult than before. However great the valour, and however
estimable the other qualities of the Celtic race, they did not possess
the patience, the perseverance, the capacity for united action, and the
power of command, which characterized the Teutonic tribes; hence they
would fall before them in any contest which required sustained exertion.
[Sidenote: THE TEUTONES SUPPLANT THE CELTS.]Gibbon’s estimate of the
character of the ancient Britons is probably correct—‘The various tribes
possessed valour without conduct, and the love of freedom without the
spirit of union. They took up arms with savage fierceness, they laid
them down, or turned them against each other with wild inconstancy; and,
while they fought singly, they were successively subdued.’


The Picts, without the artificial advantages which the Romanized Britons
possessed, doubtless had the usual characteristics of the Gothic tribes.
By these they were enabled, in defiance of the desultory attempts of the
previous occupants of the soil, to ravage the land, until, through the
efforts of Vortigern, they were confronted with foes of their own kith
and kin. In our sister island, we unhappily witness, though in a subdued
form, much of that animosity of race which led to the devastation and
bloodshed that Gildas deplores. When will Saxon and Celt lay aside their
differences, and unite for the common weal of Britain! Why should they
regard each other with mutual suspicion? Why should the one triumph, and
the other sink into hopeless, helpless despair? Creation groans—a
prostrate world looks to united Britain and its offshoots, for that balm
which may heal its woes—let it, strong in the confidence and love of its
various constituent parts, faithfully fulfil its duty!


On reviewing this sketch of the proceedings of Rome, in relation to this
distant portion of her great empire, the reader will perhaps be struck
with the amount of attention which the Imperial City bestowed upon it.

The classic authors speak most disparagingly of the land, and its

                Et penitus toto divisos orbe Britannos.
                                         _Virg. Ec._ I.
                Serves iturum Cæsarem in ultimos
                Orbis Britannos.
                                      _Hor. Od._ I. 35.
                Visam Britannos, hospitibus feros.
                                     _Hor. Od._ III. 4.
                Te belluosus qui remotis
                Obstrepit oceanus Britannis.
                                     _Hor. Od._ IV. 14.

—and yet Britain, which, according to these authorities, scarcely formed
a portion of the habitable earth, which was perpetually lashed by a
stormy ocean, and whose inhabitants, unlike many barbaric tribes, were
inhospitable to strangers, was the resort, not only of numerous
legionary and auxiliary troops, but of very many of the emperors
themselves. Great Julius came. Claudius fought upon our soil. Vespasian
entered into conflict thirty-two times with the southern Britons. Titus
shared in his toils and triumphs. Hadrian was here, and left the impress
of his mighty mind behind him. Septimius Severus ended his days in
Britain; his sons Geta and Caracalla first assumed the purple in
Britain. The emperor Maximinus breathed, sixteen centuries ago, the
sea-borne gales of Tynemouth. Britain, with its seas, was the chief
scene of the exploits of the emperor Carausius. Allectus reigned three
years over it. Constantius was long in the island, and his son,
Constantine the Great is said to have first drawn breath upon our soil.
Both Constans and Magnentius were here. Theodosius the Emperor fought
under his father in Britain. Maximus, who had previously married a
British lady, was invested by his soldiers with the purple at York—How
comes it that so many of those who boasted of the mastery of this wide
world, were induced personally to visit this little isle?—how was it,
but that

                Coming events cast their shadows before.


It seems as though there was an affinity between England and Earth’s
rulers—and that thus early it was pointed out as the spot in which, of
all others, save one—Jerusalem—mankind had the greatest interest.

The importance of Britain, in the estimation of the Romans, is further
shewn by the fact, that, of the different coins struck by the imperial
government in the short period extending from the reign of Claudius to
that of Caracalla, at least fifty-six relate to this country. Of these,
two were struck in the reign of Claudius, five in that of Hadrian,
seventeen bear the impress of Antonine, ten of Severus, twelve of
Caracalla, and ten of his brother Geta.[11]


Whilst however we maintain that Rome was led to Britain by the impulse
of a power of which she was not conscious, and whilst we willingly
acknowledge that the conquest of Britain by the Romans was the first of
that series of signal providential arrangements, by which, from the dawn
of history to the present hour, ‘the Governor among the nations’ has
prepared this island for performing that important part in the drama of
history, which she now sustains,—the enquiry yet remains, by what motive
were the conquerors more immediately impelled to settle in so remote an
island? Such toils would not have been endured, such sacrifices would
not have been made, victories over tribes so savage would not thus have
been gloried in, except the question ‘cui bono?’ could have been
satisfactorily answered. ‘I confess,’ says Horsley, 'that when I view
some part of the country in the north of England, where the Romans had
their military ways and stations, that question naturally arises, which
has been often proposed: What could move them to march so far to conquer
such a country? It appears wild and desolate enough at present, but must
have been more so at that time, from the accounts the Roman historians
have given us of it. I shall leave the Caledonian Galgacus, or Tacitus
for him, to return the answer—If the enemy was rich, their covetousness
moved them; if poor, their ambition. And when they added further
desolation to a desolate country, this was their peace.' Ambition was
doubtless the leading motive. From the earliest periods of Roman history
we find her bent upon conquest. Incessant wars engendered a thirst for
victory, and military glory became the ruling passion of the people. The
wide grasp of their ambition gave to the features of Roman character
harder, but grander lineaments than those which their more polished
neighbours of Greece possessed. Flattered, as the lords of the world, by
their favourite poets and historians, they gloried in their proud
pre-eminence, and thought that they were but fulfilling their destiny in
asserting a claim to universal dominion. Candidates for public favour
knew well that to fan the popular passion was the readiest way to
succeed in their aims. None understood this better than Julius Cæsar;
and the later emperors, who possessed not the power to strike an
energetic blow, found it necessary to maintain the show at least of
conquest and of triumph.


Less worthy inducements were, however, not wanting. There are few evils
in the fibres of whose roots the love of money will not be found. Gold
was another secret but powerful cause of the hardships which the Romans
themselves underwent, and of the countless ills which they mercilessly
inflicted upon the miserable islanders. The British chiefs in general
appear to have had considerable riches among them. Cæsar, according to
Strabo, acquired a large booty in his two descents upon our shore.
Prasutagus, the king of the Iceni, died possessed of very great wealth.
To a few states in the south, and within a few years after their first
subjection, the philosophical Seneca lent more than four hundred and
eighty thousand pounds of our money upon good security, and at
exorbitant interest.[12] Severus got a prodigious mass of riches in this
land. Gold is not now an article of mineral wealth in Britain. We are
not from this to infer that it was not so when it was first invaded. The
precious metal is not met with in veins or strata, but is diffused over
the alluvial soil, or mixed with the sand of rivers in grains or lumps.
When the commercial value of the glittering dust is discovered, it is
speedily picked up, and a country, once rich in it, becomes, in the
course of ages, impoverished. The number of massive golden torques and
armillæ of the ancient Britons, which even yet are from time to time
being brought to light, favours the idea that the metal was, in ancient
days, tolerably abundant. Whatever the secret motives, Cæsar came and

              The Roman taught thy stubborn knee to bow,
              Though twice a Cæsar could not bend it now.

[Sidenote: THE FATE OF ROME.]

In passing from the contemplation of the Roman occupation of Britain to
our examination of the remains of the chief monument of imperial power
which time has left us, the mind will experience a great transition. In
the Wall, we have evident traces of the might of Rome, but it is the
might of a giant laid prostrate—

              . . . . . Her haughty carcass spread,
              Still awes in ruins, and commands when dead.

Centuries have elapsed since the vast fabric was upreared, but they have
been centuries rife with the fate of empires.

The most ardent lover of the olden time cannot but startle, as he treads
the deserted streets, or enters the unbarred portals of BORCOVICUS, and
other cities of the Wall, at the thought that the Mistress of Nations is
now no more,[13] and that the Eternal City is buried in her own debris.
The broken column, the prostrate altar, ever and anon obtrude the fact
upon him. Another empire has sprung into being of which Rome dreamt not.
In a sense different from that which Virgil intended, the words in his
third Georgic are peculiarly striking—

            Vel scena ut versis discedat frontibus, utque
            Purpurea intexti tollant aulæa Britanni.

            Or see how on the stage the shifting scenes
            In order pass, and pictured Britons rise
            Out of the earth, and raise the purple curtain.


In that island, where, in Roman days, the painted savage shared the
forest with the beast of prey—a lady sits upon her throne of state,
wielding a sceptre more potent than Julius or Hadrian ever grasped! Her
empire is threefold that of Rome in the hour of its prime. But power is
not her brightest diadem. The holiness of the domestic circle irradiates
her. Literature, and all the arts of peace, flourish under her sway. Her
people bless her.

Will Britain always thus occupy so prominent a position in the scene of
this world’s history?

           ... Valet ima summis
           Mutare, et insignem attenuat Deus
           Obscura promens.

           The power that did create, can change the scene
           Of things; make mean of great, and great of mean.


Is the fate of Persia, Macedon, and Rome, never to be hers? ‘O Thou,
that didst build up this Britannic empire to a glorious and enviable
height, with all her daughter islands about her; stay us in this
felicity!’ What would Britain at this moment be without the Bible? Let
the seven-hilled city say! If Britain herself obey the inspired word,
and give it to the nations, then she needs not fear the shock of
empires. If not, at a future day the native of a distant isle, or
obscure nation, then newly risen into greatness, moralizing over the
reedy docks and grass-grown streets of London, may exclaim—How true the
words of their own Milton! 'But if ... as you have been valiant in war,
you should grow debauched in peace, you that have had such visible
demonstrations of the goodness of God to yourselves, and his wrath
against your enemies ... you will find that God’s displeasure against
you, will be greater than it has been against your adversaries, greater
than his grace and favour has been to yourselves, which you have had
larger experience of than any other nation under heaven.'

[Illustration: Base of Column at BORCOVICUS.]


Footnote 2:

  This coin is in the possession of Mr. Bell, of the Nook, Irthington,
  to whose cabinet of coins, chiefly procured from the line of the wall,
  the author has kindly been allowed free access.

Footnote 3:

  This interesting coin is thus described by
  Akerman:—_OBVERSE_—HADRIANUS · AVG_ustus_, CO_nsul_ III. [tertium]
  P_ater_ P_atriæ_. Laureated bust of Hadrian, with the chlamys buckled
  over his right shoulder. _REVERSE_—ADVENTVS AVG_usti_ BRITANNIAE. In
  the exergue—S_enatus_ C_onsulto_. An altar, with the fire kindled,
  placed between the emperor in his toga, who holds a patera, and a
  female figure, a victim lying at her feet.

Footnote 4:

  Numismatists differ as to the appropriation of the female. The same
  figure in other coins of this reign being used to personify Rome, it
  probably does so in this case; and represents the secure possession
  obtained by the Eternal City, of Albion’s rocky shore. However this
  may be, the same figure has been placed by many successive generations
  of mint-masters on the reverse of the copper coinage of Great Britain.
  Britain in this still bows to Rome!

Footnote 5:

    The Roman Eagle.

Footnote 6:

  Walsh on Coins.

Footnote 7:

  In the collection of Geo. Rippon, Esq., North Shields.

Footnote 8:

  Historians differ as to the degree of credibility due to this author.
  Mr. Wright, in his Biographia Britannica Literaria, says that his is
  ‘a name of very doubtful authority.’ Sharon Turner thinks that ‘as far
  as he can be supported, and made intelligible, by others, he is an
  acceptable companion, but that he cannot be trusted alone;’ and Mr.
  Stevenson, in the preface to his edition of the original Latin of
  Gildas, writes ‘We are unable to speak with certainty as to his
  parentage, his country, or even his name, the period when he lived, or
  the works of which he was the author.’ Thus much, however, is certain,
  that he lived before the time of Bede, and is quoted by him.

Footnote 9:

  This point is well put by Sir Francis Palgrave, in his History of the
  Anglo-Saxons. ‘The walls of the cities fortified by the Romans were
  yet strong and firm. The tactics of the legions were not forgotten.
  Bright armour was piled in the storehouses, and the serried line of
  spears might have been presented to the half-naked Scots and Picts,
  who could never have prevailed against their opponents.’

Footnote 10:

  The supposition is not destitute of support. The migratory tendencies
  of the Gothic tribes have always been conspicuous. From the earliest
  periods of our history, the inhabitants of Jutland and its
  neighbouring provinces were in the habit of making descents upon the
  coasts of Britain. After the departure of the Romans, their attempts
  were probably more bold and frequent, but they did not then, for the
  first time, commence. The Norfolk and Suffolk coast was, from its
  position, peculiarly exposed to these incursions, and as early as the
  close of the third century, was placed under the command of a military
  Count called _Comes litoris Saxonici_. This district was called ‘the
  Saxon shore,’ as Sir Francis Palgrave observes, not merely because it
  was open to the incursion of the Saxons, but, most probably, because
  they had succeeded in fixing themselves in some portion of it. The
  weak hold which the Romans, at all times, had of Scotland, would
  render it an easier prey than England to the Franks and Saxons.
  Tacitus informs us, that the ruddy hair and lusty limbs of the
  Caledonians indicate a Germanic extraction. Richard of Cirencester
  tells us, that a little before the coming of Severus, the Picts landed
  in Scotland; from which we are at least entitled to infer, that the
  Picts were not the original inhabitants of North Britain; and probably
  the statement is substantially correct, inasmuch as large
  reinforcements landed in Scotland at this period, as previously
  observed. The Scots—the other branch of the people classed under the
  general term Caledonians—are confessedly of Irish origin. When St.
  Columba, whose mother tongue was Irish Gaelic, preached to the Picts,
  he used an interpreter. Fordun, the Father of Scottish History, tells
  us, ‘The manners of the Scots are various as to their languages; for
  they use two tongues, the Scottish and the Teutonic. The last is
  spoken by those on the sea-coasts and in the low countries, while the
  Scottish is the speech of the mountaineers and the remote islanders.’
  The proper Scots, Camden describes as those commonly called
  Highlandmen; ‘for the rest,’ he adds, ‘more civilized, and inhabiting
  the eastern part, though comprehended under the name of Scots, are the
  farthest in the world from being Scots, but are of the same German
  origin with us English.’ Dr. Jamieson, whose researches in philology
  are well known, is decidedly of opinion that the Picts and Saxons had
  a common origin. Upon what other theory, he argues, can the prevalence
  of the Saxon tongue in the Lowlands of Scotland be accounted for?
  William the Conqueror could not change the language of South
  Britain—was it likely that a few Saxon fugitives at the Scottish court
  could supplant that of their benefactors?

  The theory of the Germanic origin of the Picts removes another
  difficulty. How is the disappearance of the Celtic tongue from England
  to be accounted for? The Saxons, on seizing the soil, would not
  exterminate the inhabitants, but retain them as bondsmen. Had the
  majority of the occupants of England been the original Britons or
  Romanized Celts, we should have found in our daily speech, and in the
  names of our towns and villages, a large intermixture of Gaelic and
  Latin; but such is not the case. Grant that the Picts were a branch of
  the great Gothic family—and that successive waves of them had, long
  before the time of Cerdic, poured from the lowlands of Scotland over
  the plains of England, and the almost entire extermination of the
  ancient British is easily accounted for.

  If the theory here advocated, cannot be sustained, it must at least be
  allowed, that the population of North Britain was largely leavened
  with individuals of the Saxon race. These strangers would doubtless
  obtain that supremacy over the natives which the Franks did in Gaul;
  so that, even upon this limited view of the question, the influence of
  the Germanic race in fixing the destinies of Britain, at this critical
  period, is apparent.

Footnote 11:

  The whole of these are accurately figured and described in the
  "Materials for the History of Britain," published by the government.
  It is to be hoped that a work so auspiciously begun will not be
  strangled in its birth, by a false application of the principles of
  national economy.

Footnote 12:

  Whitaker’s History of Manchester, i. 228.

Footnote 13:

  "Politically speaking, Rome is now the city of the dead."

                                              _Times_, March 18th, 1850.




                      ~The Roman Barrier of the
                          Lower Isthmus.~

                                PART II.

Numerous are the appellations which the Great Barrier of the Lower
Isthmus has obtained. 'It was called by ancient writers _vallum
barbaricum_, _prætentura_ and _clusura_; by Dion διατειχισμα; by
Herodian χωμα; by Antoninus and others _vallum_; by some of the Latin
historians _murus_; by the English the Picts’-wall, or THE WALL; and by
the Britons _gual Sever_, _gal Sever_, and _mur Sever_. The names
_prætentura_ and _clusura_ are given to it upon account of its being
stretched out against, and excluding the enemy.' To the names thus
enumerated by Camden, must be added, the Thirl Wall, the Kepe Wall, and
that by which it is best known at present, the ROMAN WALL.


This great fortification consists of three parts.

I. A Stone Wall, strengthened by a ditch on its northern side.

II. A Turf Wall or Vallum, to the south of the stone wall.

III. Stations, Castles, Watch-towers, and Roads, for the accommodation
of the soldiery who manned the Barrier, and for the transmission of
military stores. These lie, for the most part, between the stone wall
and the earthen rampart.

The whole of the works proceed from one side of the island to the other
in a nearly direct line, and in comparatively close companionship. The
stone wall and earthen rampart are generally within sixty or seventy
yards of each other.[14] The distance between them, however, varies
according to the nature of the country. Sometimes they are so close as
barely to admit of the passage of the military way between them, whilst,
in one or two instances, they are upwards of half-a-mile apart. It is in
the high grounds of the central region that they are most widely
separated. Midway between the seas, the country attains a considerable
elevation; here the stone wall seeks the highest ridges, but the vallum,
forsaking for a while its usual companion, runs along the adjacent
valley. Both works are, however, so arranged as to afford each other the
greatest amount of support which the nature of the country allows.

                                                             _PLATE II._



  _Shewing how they are connected at the Stations, and by their mutual
    relation to one another must have been one entire united Defence or

                              _Reid Litho. 117 Pilgrim Street Newcastle_

The stone wall extends from Wall’s-end on the Tyne, to Bowness on the
Solway, a space which Horsley estimates at sixty-eight miles and three
furlongs—the turf wall falls short of this distance by about three miles
at each end, terminating at Newcastle on the east side, and at Drumburgh
on the west.


The Map of the Wall, the more detailed Plans of several parts of it in
Plate II, and the Sections given in a subsequent page, will afford a
pretty correct idea of the general arrangement of the works.

Most writers who have treated of the Roman remains in Britain, have
considered that the two lines of fortification are the works of
different periods. The earth-wall, or Vallum, has generally been
ascribed to Hadrian, but the stone wall, or Murus, to Septimius Severus.
This is the opinion of Horsley, whose judgment is always deserving of
the highest consideration. Deferring to a subsequent period the
discussion of this question, it will be convenient, meanwhile, to speak
of the works as being but different parts of one great engineering


The most striking feature in the plan, both of the Murus and the Vallum,
is the determinate manner in which they pursue their straight-forward
course. The Vallum makes fewer deviations from a right line than the
stone Wall; but as the Wall traverses higher ground, this remarkable
tendency is more easily detected in it than in the other. Shooting over
the country, in its onward course, it only swerves from a straight line
to take in its route the boldest elevations. So far from declining a
hill, it uniformly selects it. For nineteen miles out of Newcastle, the
road to Carlisle runs upon the foundation of the Wall, and during the
summer months its dusty surface contrasts well with the surrounding
verdure. Often will the traveller, after attaining some of the steep
acclivities of his path, observe the road stretching for miles in an
undeviating course to the east and the west of him, resembling, as
Hutton expresses it, a white ribbon on a green ground. But if it never
moves from a right line, except to occupy the highest points, it never
fails to seize them, as they occur, no matter how often it is compelled,
with this view, to change its direction. It never bends in a curve, but
always at an angle. Hence, along the craggy precipices between
Sewingshields and Thirlwall, it is obliged to pursue a remarkably
zig-zag course; for it takes in its range, with the utmost pertinacity,
every projecting rock.

This mode of proceeding involves another peculiarity. It is compelled to
accommodate itself to the depressions of the mountainous region over
which it passes. Without flinching, it sinks into the ‘gap,’ or pass,
which ever and anon occurs, and, having crossed the narrow valley,
ascends unfalteringly the steep acclivity on the other side. The
antiquary, in following it into these ravines, is often compelled to
step with the utmost caution, and in clambering up the opposite ascent,
he is as frequently constrained to pause for breath. After crossing the
river Irthing, in Cumberland, the Wall is opposed in its course westward
by a precipice of upwards of one hundred feet in height. It cannot now
be ascertained, whether or not the Wall was taken up the edge of this
cliff, for the stratum is of a soft and yielding nature, and is
continually being removed by the river below. Certain, however, it is,
that the Wall, accompanied by its ditch, is still to be seen on the very
brink of its summit. If it did not climb this steep, it is the only one
which, in the course of the line from sea to sea, it refused—and if it
did ascend it, it would more nearly resemble a leaning tower than a
barrier wall.


In no part of its course is the Wall entirely perfect, and therefore it
is difficult to ascertain what its original height has been. Bede, whose
cherished home was the monastery of Jarrow, anciently part of the parish
of Wall’s-end, is the earliest author who gives its dimensions. He
says—‘It is eight feet in breadth, and twelve in height, in a straight
line from east to west, as is still visible to beholders.’ Subsequent
writers assign to it a greater elevation. It is not unlikely that the
venerable monk, who was no traveller, describes it as it existed in his
own neighbourhood; and we can readily conceive that in a flat country,
and upon the border of a navigable river, it would, even then, have
suffered more from the hand of the spoiler than in the wilder regions of
the West.

In a letter written by Sir Christopher Ridley, is an account of the Wall
as it stood about the year 1572. The writer says—

  Rycht worschipfull, where as you spake unto me for a certayn knowledge
  of one wall builded betwyxt the Brittons and Pightes (which we call
  the KEPE WALL) builded by the Pightes, sure theyr is one. The length
  whereof is about, I think, almost a C myles, bilded alwayis whar they
  cold upon the hyghtes, whereon about the greatest cragis was, and
  whare theyr was no cragis or hy placis theyr was a great stank cast of
  other syd, the bredth iij yardis, the hyght remanith in sum placis yet
  vij yardis, it goith from Bowlness in Cu'berland viij myles beyond
  Carlell upon the west sea cost till it comes to a town called the
  Wallis end besyd Tynemouth on the est sea.[15]

Samson Erdeswick, an English antiquary of some celebrity, visited the
Wall, in the year 1574.[16] His account is here given—

  As towching Hadrian’s[17] Wall, begyning abowt a town called Bonus
  standing vppon the river Sulway now called Eden. The sea ebbeth and
  floweth there. The forsaid Wall begynning there, and there yet
  standing of the heyth of 16 fote, for almost a quarter of a myle
  together, and so along the river syde estwards, they space of an eight
  myle by the shew of the trench, as certayne ruynes of castills in that
  wall, tyll a qwarter of a myle of Carlyole, and there passeth ower the
  river of Eden; and then goeth straight estwards hard by a late abbey
  called Lanvercost, and so crossing ower the mowntaynes toward


Camden, who visited the Wall in 1599, says—

  Within two furlongs of Carvoran, on a pretty high hill the Wall is
  still standing fifteen feet in height, and nine in breadth.

These statements leave upon the mind an impression that the estimate of
Bede is too low.

In all probability, the Wall would be surmounted by a battlement of not
less than four feet in height, and as this part of the structure would
be the first to fall into decay, Bede’s calculation was probably
irrespective of it. This, however, only gives us a total elevation of
sixteen feet. Unless we reject the evidence of Ridley and Erdeswick, we
must admit, even after making due allowance for error and exaggeration,
that the Wall, when in its integrity, was eighteen or nineteen feet
high. This elevation would be in keeping with its breadth.

The thickness of the Wall varies considerably; in some places it is six
feet, in others nine feet and a half.[18] Probably the prevailing width
is eight feet, the measurement given by Bede.

The frequency with which the thickness of the Wall varies, favours the
idea that numerous gangs of labourers were simultaneously employed upon
the work, and that each superintending centurion was allowed to use his
discretion as to its width. The northern face of the Wall is continuous,
but the southern has numerous outsets and insets measuring from four to
twelve inches, at the points, doubtless, where the sections of the
different companies joined.

[Sidenote: THE NORTH FOSSE.]

Throughout the whole of its length, the Wall is accompanied on its
northern margin by a broad and deep FOSSE, which, by increasing the
comparative height of the Wall, would add greatly to its strength. This
portion of the Barrier may yet be traced, with trifling interruptions,
from sea to sea. Even in places where the Wall has quite disappeared,
its more lowly companion, the fosse, remains. In some fertile districts
the plough has been carried over it in vain; owing to the moisture of
the site, the corn sown upon it springs up with undue luxuriance, and is
almost uniformly laid prostrate before it can ripen. From this
circumstance the ground is frequently retained in grass, while the
neighbouring parts are under tillage.[19] The fosse thus more readily
catches the eye, and is likely longer to retain its groove-like form
than if subjected to the ordinary process of cultivation.

When the ditch traverses a flat or exposed country, a portion of the
materials taken out of it has frequently been thrown upon its northern
margin, so as to present to the enemy an additional rampart. In those
positions, on the other hand, where its assistance could be of no avail,
as along the edge of a cliff, the fosse does not appear.

No small amount of labour has been expended in the excavation of the
ditch; it has been drawn indifferently through alluvial soil, and rocks
of sandstone, limestone, and basalt. The patient exertion which this
involved is well seen on Tepper Moor, where enormous blocks of whin lie
just as they have been lifted out of the fosse. The fosse never leaves
the Wall to avoid a mechanical difficulty.

The size of the ditch in several places is still considerable. To the
east of Heddon-on-the-Wall, it measures thirty four feet across the top,
and is nearly nine feet deep; as it descends the hill from Carvoran to
Thirlwall, it measures forty feet across the top, fourteen across the
bottom, and is ten feet deep. Westward of Tepper Moor is a portion
which, reckoning from the top of the mound on its northern margin, has a
depth of twenty feet.

The dimensions of the fosse were probably not uniform throughout the
line; but these examples prepare us to receive, as tolerably correct,
Hutton’s estimate of its average size. ‘The ditch to the north,’ he says
'was as near as convenient, thirty-six feet wide and fifteen feet

The care with which the fosse was dressed, has varied with the taste of
the overseer and the forbearance of the enemy. In some tracts, the work
presents as smooth and trim an aspect as a modern railway cutting; in
others, marks of haste, carelessness, or sudden surprise, appear. The
curious circumstance which Hodgson describes in the following paragraph
may be seen in more than one locality:—

  'A little west of Portgate, the appearance of the fosse is still, to
  the eye that loves and understands antiquity, very imposing and grand.
  The earth taken out of it lies spread abroad to the north, in lines
  just as the workmen wheeled it out and left it. The tracks of their
  barrows, with a slight mound on each side remain unaltered in

[Illustration: The works near the 18th mile-stone West of Newcastle.]

[Illustration: The works half a mile west of Carraw.]

[Sidenote: THE VALLUM.]

The VALLUM or TURF WALL, is uniformly to the south of the stone Wall. It
consists of three ramparts and a fosse. One of these ramparts is placed
close upon the southern edge of the ditch, the two others of larger
dimensions[22] stand, one to the north, and the other to the south of
it, at the distance of about twenty-four feet. The annexed sections of
the works exhibit their present condition. They are drawn to the scale
of seventy-five feet to the inch. The Wall is in these parts, unhappily,
entirely removed.

The ramparts, in some parts of the line, stand, even at present, six or
seven feet above the level of the neighbouring ground.[23] They are
composed of earth, mingled, not unfrequently, with masses of stone.
Occasionally, the stone preponderates to such an extent as to yield to
the hand of the modern spoiler, ready materials for the formation of
stone dikes. In several places they are being quarried with this view.

The fosse of the Vallum is of a character similar to the fosse of the
stone Wall; but, judging from present appearances, its dimensions have
been rather less. It, too, has been frequently cut through beds of

The question will occasionally occur to the wanderer by the Wall, whence
were the materials obtained for constructing the mounds of the Vallum?
With the exception of the fosse, there are no marks of excavation in the
neighbourhood, and that the fosse of the Vallum would not yield
materials sufficient for the purpose, is abundantly evident.[24]

[Sidenote: USE OF THE VALLUM.]

The contents of the ditch on the north of the Wall have probably gone to
assist in the formation of these lines. This statement of course
proceeds upon the supposition that the Wall and the Vallum were
contemporaneous works. Upon the same assumption, it may be added that
the ramparts of the Vallum are probably indebted for some portion of the
stone which they contain, to the chippings of the Wall.

Although the distance between the stone Wall and the Vallum is, as
already observed, perpetually varying, the lines of the Vallum maintain
amongst themselves nearly the same relative position throughout their
entire course.

No apparent paths of egress have been made through these southern lines
of fortification. The only mode of communication with the country to the
south, originally contemplated, seems to have been by the gateways of
the stations.

If we adopt the theory that the Wall and the Vallum exhibit unity of
design, a question of some importance arises—With what view was the
Vallum constructed? Hodgson, with much probability, conceives that,
whilst the Wall undertook the harder duty of warding off the professedly
hostile tribes of Caledonia, the Vallum was intended as a protection
against sudden surprise from the south. The natives of the country on
the south side of the Wall, though conquered, were not to be depended
upon; in the event of their kinsmen in the north gaining an advantage,
they would be ready to avail themselves of it. The Romans knew this, and
with characteristic prudence made themselves secure on both sides.


But, whatever we may conceive to have been the design of the Vallum, the
peculiarity of its form will excite the attention of the enquirer,
though probably without his arriving at any satisfactory explanation.
Supposing, according to the common theory, that the Vallum was an
independent fortification, erected long before the Wall, to resist a
northern foe, why was not the ditch, as in the case of the stone Wall,
drawn along the northern edge of the northern agger? I cannot supply an
answer. A similar difficulty meets us on the supposition that it was
meant to guard against attack from the other side. Again, what part did
the smaller rampart on the south edge of the fosse perform? Possibly it
may have been intended as a foot-hold for the soldiers when fighting on
this platform against the revolted Britons south of the barrier.

The third, and perhaps the most important, part of the barrier line
consisted of the structures that were formed for the accommodation of
the soldiery, and for the ready transmission of troops and stores.
Neither stone walls, nor ditches, nor earthen ramparts, would alone have
proved material impediments to the incursions of the Caledonians—

                An iron race, ...
                Foes to the gentler genius of the plain.

It is reported that Agesilaus, when asked where were the walls of
Sparta, pointed to his soldiers and said, ‘There.’ The Romans placed
their chief reliance on the valour and discipline of their armies,
though they did not despise the assistance of mural lines. In a foreign
country, to which it was difficult to transmit relays of troops, it
became a matter of great importance to economize the lives of the
soldiery. Hence arose the Wall.

Those portions of the great barrier which yet await our consideration,
are the STATIONS, the MILE-CASTLES, the TURRETS, and the ROADS.

[Sidenote: THE STATIONS.]

At distances along the line which average nearly four miles, STATIONARY
CAMPS (_stationes_ or _castra stativa_) were erected. These received
their distinctive appellation, in contradistinction from those temporary
ramparts, which were thrown up when an army halted for a night or for
some brief period.

The stations on the line of the Wall were military cities, adapted for
the residence of the chief who commanded the district, and providing
secure lodgment for the powerful body of soldiery he had under him. Here
the commandant held his court; hence issued decrees which none might
gainsay; here Roman arts, and literature, and luxury, struggled for
existence, when all around was ignorance and barbarity.

Some of the stations, though connected with the Wall, have evidently, as
will afterwards be shewn, been built before it: this does not prove that
they did not form part of the great design. To secure a safe retreat for
the soldiers employed upon the work would necessarily be the first care
of the builder.

The stations are uniformly quadrangular in their shape, though somewhat
rounded at the corners, and contain an area of from three to five acres.
A stone wall, five feet thick, encloses them, and has probably in every
instance been strengthened by a fosse, and one or more earthen ramparts.
They usually stand upon ground which slopes to the south, and are
naturally defended upon one side at least.


The Wall, when it does not fall in with the northern wall of a station,
usually comes up to the northern cheek of its eastern and western
gateways. The Vallum, in like manner, usually approaches close to the
southern wall of the station, or comes up to the defence of the southern
side of the eastern and western portals. Examples of these arrangements
are given in Plate II. At least three of the stations, it must, however,
be observed, are quite detached from both lines of fortification, being
situated to the south of them. They may have been members of Agricola’s
chain of forts.

Probably all the stations have, on their erection, been provided, after
the usual method of Roman castrametation, with four gateways; in several
instances one or more of these portals have been walled up at an early
period, in consequence, probably, of some natural weakness in the

Narrow streets, intersecting each other at right angles, occupy the
interior of the stations, and abundant ruins, outside the walls,
indicate the fact that extensive suburbs have, in every instance, been
required for the accommodation of the camp-followers.


In selecting a spot for a station, care has been taken that an abundant
supply of water should be at hand. The springs, rivulets, wells, and
aqueducts, whence they procured the needful fluid, are still, in many
places, to be traced; and never did water more limpid, more sparkling,
more invigorating, lave the lips of man, than that which flows from
these sources.

For the most part, the stations—cities which for centuries were the
abodes of busy men, and which resounded with the hum of multitudes, and
the clash of arms,—now present a scene of utter desolation. The wayfarer
may pass through them without knowing it; the streets are levelled, the
temples are overthrown, and the sons and daughters of Italy, Mauritania,
and Spain, whose adopted homes they were, no longer encounter him. The
sheep, depasturing the grass-grown ruins, look listlessly upon the
passer-by, and the curlew, wheeling above his head, screams as at the
presence of an intruder. Whether, or not, sites naturally fertile were
chosen for the stations does not appear; but certain it is, that they
are now for the most part coated with a sward more green and more
luxuriant than that which covers the contiguous grounds. Centuries of
occupation have given them a degree of fertility which, probably, they
will never lose.[25] One can scarcely turn up the soil without meeting,
not only with fragments of Roman pottery and other imperishable
articles, but with the bones of oxen, the tusks of boars, the horns of
deer, and other animal remains. The debris of some of these cities is
considered to be more valuable for farm purposes, than the recent
produce of the fold-yard, and is used as such.


It is not a little remarkable that the names of the stations, which must
have been household words in the days of Roman occupation, have for the
most part been obliterated from the local vocabulary; they are now only
to be recalled, and that with difficulty, by exhuming the stony records
of the past, and comparing them with the notices of contemporaneous
geographers. The truth is, that military reasons dictated the choice of
the stations,—commercial facilities gave rise to modern cities. Long may
the mere military outpost be consigned to the shepherd’s use, whilst the
wharf and the warehouse are beset by the busy crowd!

According to Horsley, the stations on the line of the Wall, were
eighteen in number, besides some that were placed in its immediate
vicinity, and lent to it important aid. Hodgson, conceiving that Horsley
has in one instance mistaken a mere summer fortification for a
stationary camp, reduces the number of stations on the line itself to


In ascertaining the number and the names of the stations, a most
valuable document has come down to our times from the period of Roman
occupation. The ‘Notitia Imperii’ was probably written about the end of
the reign of Theodosius the younger, and was certainly composed before
the Romans abandoned this island. It is a sort of list of the several
military and civil officers and magistrates both in the eastern and
western empires, with the places at which they were stationed. It may,
in fact, be regarded as the roll-call of the Roman army. The sixty-ninth
section of the work contains a list of the prefects and tribunes under
the command of the Honourable the Duke of Britain. The portion of the
section in which we are at present interested is headed, _Item per
lineam valli_—Also along the line of the Wall—and contains the following

      The Tribune of the fourth cohort of the Lingones[26] at Segedunum.
      The Tribune of the cohort of the Cornovii at Pons Ælii.
      The Prefect of the first ala, or wing, of the Astures[27] at
      The Tribune of the first cohort of the Frixagi at Vindobala.
      The Prefect of the Savinian ala at Hunnum.
      The Prefect of the second ala of Astures at Cilurnum.
      The Tribune of the first cohort of the Batavians at Procolitia.
      The Tribune of the first cohort of the Tungri at Borcovicus.
      The Tribune of the fourth cohort of the Gauls at Vindolana.
      The Tribune of the first cohort of the Astures at Æsica.
      The Tribune of the second cohort of the Dalmatians at Magna.
      The Tribune of the first cohort of Dacians, styled Ælia, at
      The Prefect of the ala, called Petriana, at Petriana.
      The Prefect of a detachment of Moors, styled Aureliani, at
      The Tribune of the second cohort of the Lergi at Congavata.
      The Tribune of the first cohort of the Spaniards at Axelodunum.
      The Tribune of the second cohort of the Thracians at Gabrosentis.
      The Tribune of the first marine cohort, styled Ælia, at
      The Tribune of the first cohort of the Morini at Glannibanta.
      The Tribune of the third cohort of the Nervii at Alionis.
      The Cuneus of men in armour at Bremetenracum.
      The Prefect of the first ala, styled Herculean, at Olenacum.
      The Tribune of the sixth cohort of the Nervii at Virosidum.


It is not said, nor does it appear, that all these twenty-three stations
were exactly upon the line of the Wall itself. It is very plain indeed,
says Horsley, that according to the Notitia, SEGEDUNUM was the first,
for that immediately follows the title _per lineam valli_; but he has
not told us expressly at what place or station they end.[28] Those
stations which were not on the Wall were probably in its vicinity, and
were connected with it by military ways. The stations in this list are
manifestly, as this writer also observes, set down in some order, and
those that were near to each other are placed together;[29] so that if
we ascertain the identity of some of them, we may form a pretty correct
estimate of the position of the intermediate or neighbouring stations.


When, in the ruins of a station, inscribed stones are found bearing the
name of a cohort mentioned in the Notitia, the inference is natural,
that, in most cases at least, the imperial Notitia will furnish us with
a key to the ancient designation of the station. The argument becomes
irresistible, when, in several successive instances the designations
thus obtained correspond exactly with the order of the places as given
in the Notitia. Let us take an example. At the station of Chesters, on
the North Tyne, several slabs have been found, bearing the name of the
second ala, or wing, of the Astures. One of these is here
represented.[30] It is a sepulchral stone, and bears at the end of the
third and the beginning of the fourth lines the words—

                          · · · · · · ALAE
                          II ASTVR[UM]· · · ·



Now, as the Notitia represents this ala, or troop of cavalry, to have
been stationed at Cilurnum, the probability is, that the camp on the
west bank of the North Tyne is the CILURNUM of Roman Britain.

Immediately following ‘The second wing of the Astures at CILURNUM,’ on
the Notitia list, is, ‘The first cohort of the Batavians at PROCOLITIA.’
Now the station immediately west of Chesters is Carrawburgh, and here a
slab and an altar have been found, inscribed with the name of this very
cohort. The woodcut represents one of them,[31] an altar to Fortune,
which is thus inscribed—

                           COH I BATAVOR[UM]
                               CVI PRÆEST
                         MARCELLUS PRÆ[FECTUS]

                               To Fortune
                   The first cohort of the Batavians
                              Commanded by
                          Marcellus, Prefect.


The conclusion is natural,—Carrawburgh is the PROCOLITIA of the Notitia.


Moving westward, the next station we come to is Housesteads; here
numerous inscribed stones have been discovered, which mention the first
cohort of the Tungri. One of these, an altar to Jupiter, which is now in
the possession of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and
is preserved in their museum, is accurately given in the accompanying

                        I[OVI] O[PTIMO] M[AXIMO]
                              ET NVMINIBUS
                        AVG[USTI] COH[ORS] I TV-
                         MIL[LIARIA] CVI PRÆE-
                          ST Q[UINTUS] VERIVS

                   To Jupiter, the greatest and best,
                            And the Deities
                  Of Augustus; the first cohort of the
                    A milliary one,[32] commanded by
                             Quintus Verius

The correspondence between the Notitia and the sculptures derived from
this station, is again too striking to admit a doubt, that the
Housesteads of the modern shepherd is the BORCOVICUS of the Roman hosts.


In this way, the ancient designations of the stations from SEGEDUNUM,
Wall’s-end, to AMBOGLANNA, Birdoswald, have been accurately ascertained;
but no stony memorial of the past has arisen to confirm the Notitia
account of the stations westward of this point. The peculiarly fertile
nature of the soil between the river Irthing and the Solway has been
inimical to the preservation of the Wall and its antiquities. The wants
of a numerous population rendered stones of every kind valuable; and in
an ignorant age, when anything in the shape of a letter was regarded as
a thing of evil omen, those most precious to the historian were the
first to be sacrificed.[33] [Sidenote: THE STATIONS WEST OF
AMBOGLANNA.]Since the accuracy of the Notitia has been confirmed in so
many instances, it is but fair to conclude, that it may be safely taken
as a guide in fixing the Roman designations of the remaining stations
along the line. Cambeck Fort is the station next to Birdoswald; the
Notitia places PETRIANA next in order to AMBOGLANNA, which has been
ascertained to be Birdoswald—doubtless, according to this reasoning,
Cambeck Fort is the ancient PETRIANA. In this way, could it be certainly
ascertained which were the stations _per lineam valli_, each station
might have its Roman name restored, though not a syllable of the ancient
designation be retained in the modern cognomen. We should have but to
read over the roll-call, and let each camp in succession answer to its
name. Unhappily, there is some doubt as to which are the stations along
the line of the Wall. Horsley conceives that Watch Cross is the station
next in order to Cambeck Fort, and, accordingly, calls it ABALLABA;
Stanwix, Burgh, Drumburgh, and Bowness, he successively denominates,
Subsequent inquirers, and, in particular, the Rev. John Hodgson, have
seen reason to suspect that Watch Cross was not a station _per lineam
valli_. It probably was destitute of stone walls, and was surrounded
only by a rampart of earth.[34] It seems to have been a mere _castra
æstiva_—a summer encampment, and consequently, was not entitled to rank
with those strongholds that were intended to withstand all foes at all
seasons. Should Watch Cross be laid aside, the whole of Horsley’s
subsequent allocation of the Notitia names is thrown out of course. It
is much to be desired that some ‘Witch Stone’ would start from its
hiding-place in the foundation of some cottage or castle in the
neighbourhood of any one of the stations west of Cambeck Fort, and
resolve the interesting question. Until such an event does occur, some
doubt must hang upon the subject. The reader will now understand how it
is, that, according to some authorities, the stations immediately
dependent upon the Wall are said to be eighteen in number, and according
to others only seventeen. For the reason just referred to, the Notitia
names of the stations are not given on the Map of the Wall westward of

The remainder of the stations of the Notitia were probably out-posts,
intended to give support to the whole structure. The difficulty of
rightly appropriating the Notitia appellations to such of these as have
not yielded inscribed stones, is even greater than in the case of those
which follow more closely the line of the Wall.


Before leaving this subject, the reader will do well to compare the
ancient with the modern names of the stations, as far as they are
ascertained; in doing so, he will be struck with the almost total
absence of any similarity between them. So complete, it would appear,
has been the subversion by Pict, and Saxon, and Dane, of the Roman
domination in the north of England, that the very names of the cities
which were occupied by the empire for centuries have perished,

              And, like this unsubstantial pageant faded,
              Leave not a rack behind.


In addition to the Stations, CASTELLA or MILE-CASTLES were provided for
the use of the troops which garrisoned the Wall. They derive their
modern name from the circumstance of their being usually placed at the
distance of a Roman mile from each other. They were quadrangular
buildings, differing somewhat in size, but usually measuring from sixty
to seventy feet in each direction. With two exceptions, they have been
placed against the southern face of the Wall; the castle at Portgate,
every trace of which is now obliterated, and another near ÆSICA, the
foundations of which may, with some difficulty, still be traced, seem to
have projected equally to the north and south of the Wall. Though
generally placed about seven furlongs from each other, the nature of the
ground, independently of distance, has frequently determined the spot of
their location. Whenever the Wall has had occasion to traverse a river
or a mountain pass, a mile-castle has uniformly been placed on the one
side or other to guard the defile. The mile-towers have generally had
but one gate of entrance, which was of very substantial masonry, and was
uniformly placed in the centre of the south wall; the most perfect
specimen now remaining, however, has a northern, as well as a southern
gateway. It is not easy to conjecture what were the internal
arrangements of these buildings; probably they afforded little
accommodation beyond what their four strong walls and well-barred gates
gave. Hodgson states that when the foundations of the castle northeast
of Housesteads were removed in 1832, the remains of an inner wall were
seen, all round, parallel to the outer walls. He hence infers that the
space between the walls has been roofed, and the centre uncovered.
Deferring the further discussion of this subject until, in the course of
our local description, we arrive at the most perfect specimen
remaining—the mile-castle near Cawfields—the reader is meanwhile
referred to the lithograph which depicts this interesting remain.


Between the mile-castles, four subsidiary buildings, generally
denominated TURRETS or WATCH TOWERS, were placed. They were little more
than stone sentry-boxes. It is with much difficulty that they can now be
traced. Horsley, in his day, complained that ‘scarce three of them could
be made out in succession.’ Would that the modern antiquary could make
the same lamentation! Scarcely one along the whole line can with
certainty be determined. They contained an interior space of eight or
ten feet square. Horsley states the distance between them to have been
three hundred and eight yards—the whole number would consequently be
three hundred and twenty. Though small buildings, they were, like all
the works of the Romans, built for perpetuity. Hodgson found the walls
of one near Birdoswald to be nearly three feet thick. Such were the
buildings provided for the lodgement and security of the cohorts, whose
hard lot it was to guard this frontier barrier. A plan of Cilurnum, and
the works in its vicinity, taken from Warburton’s Vallum Romanum, in
Plate II., exhibits these arrangements, and shews, as he remarks, how
the Wall and the Vallum, the stations, turrets, and castles, yielded
mutual assistance to each other.


But all these arrangements were not enough; without ROADS, one important
element in the strength of the Great Barrier would have been wanting.
Nothing economizes military force more effectually than the possession
of means for quickly concentrating all available resources upon any
point that the enemy may select for attack. The advance of Roman armies,
and the formation of roads, were uniformly contemporaneous. The Barrier
had its MILITARY WAY. It is impossible to over-estimate the importance
of this part of the works. Without it, all the rest would have been
useless. It would not, perhaps, be incorrect to say that both Vallum and
Wall were subsidiary to it, and that the chief use of these structures
was to guard the road, and to protect and conceal from view, both on the
north and south, the troops that marched along it. The modern history of
the district traversed by the Wall furnishes a singular corroboration of
this opinion. In the rebellion of 1715, the operations of the royalist
forces were greatly impeded by the absence of a good road between
Newcastle and Carlisle. In the rebellion of 1745, a similar
inconvenience was experienced. Marshal Wade was at Newcastle when the
Pretender appeared before the city of Carlisle. The commandant of the
city immediately sent an express to inform him of his position. The
general’s answer contained these words:—

                              Newcastle, November 10th, 1745, 7 o’clock.


  I have just now the favour of your letter by express, with an account
  of the Rebels’ approach near your city. The spirit and resolution with
  which you exert yourselves is very commendable, and I hope will
  contribute to disappoint the Rebels of any design they may have formed
  against you. ..... _I cannot follow them, the way they may probably
  take being impassable for Artillery_ ..... but I hope to meet them in
  Lancashire, and make them repent of their rashness. ... I wish you all
  imaginable success,

                    And am, Gentlemen, your
                        Most obedient humble servant,
                                     GEORGE WADE.[35]


Thus, for want of a military road across the Isthmus, the importance of
which had been perceived by the Romans sixteen centuries previously, the
safety of the kingdom was perilled, and a hostile force permitted to
pour itself into the heart of England. After such terrible warnings,
government at last interfered, and an act of Parliament was passed which
set forth in the preamble:—

  Whereas the making and keeping a free and open communication between
  the city of Carlisle and the town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, by a road
  for the passage of troops, horses, and carriages, at all times of the
  year, would be of great use and service to the public, and it hath
  been found by experience, that the want of such road, passage, and
  communication, hath been attended with great inconvenience and danger
  to this kingdom. ....: Be it enacted, &c.

The road now known in the district by the name of the Military Road was
accordingly made at the public expense. It is not a little remarkable
that it takes precisely the track which the engineers of Rome had so
many centuries before selected. In the map of the Wall which accompanies
this work, the modern military road is delineated.

The importance of a good road, protected by military posts at short
intervals, in securing the tranquillity of a turbulent district, is
strikingly shewn in another instance. That part of the great highway
between Madrid and Cadiz which crosses the wild hills of the Sierra
barrier, was formerly left to the robber and the wolf, without roads or
villages. A road, admirably planned, was at length executed by Charles
Le Maur, an able engineer in the service of Charles III. The task of
guarding it was the difficulty next to be overcome. For this purpose,
Spain, who had colonized the new world, and expelled her rich Jews and
industrious Moors, was compelled to resort to foreign assistance. In
1768, a colony of Germans and Swiss settled upon the line on condition
of maintaining a constant guard.[36] This is done to the present day.
Several consecutive towns, such as Carolina, in Andalusia, are occupied
by people speaking nothing but the German language, and regular patrols
are constantly on the move from one town to another. These Germans have
their land in better order and cultivation than the Spaniards. This
Spanish highway, with its stations at regular intervals, with its
foreign guards, who from generation to generation maintain the tongue
and the habits of their fatherland, presents too many points of
resemblance to the manner in which the northern frontier of Roman power
in Britain was defended, to be passed over without obtaining at least
this brief notice.


Gordon, in his Itinerarium Septentrionale, says, that two military ways
belonged to the Barrier; a small Military Way a little to the south of
the Wall, and, beyond it, the Great Military Way. In addition to these,
Horsley enumerates a third, which he calls the Old Military Way. Horsley
conceives that the north rampart of the Vallum constitutes the road
which was used by Agricola and Hadrian in transporting their troops from
station to station, and that when Severus built the Wall, he formed a
new road—the great military way—which pursued an independent course,
sometimes coinciding with the old road, but more frequently keeping
nearer to the Wall. That there may have been a path-way immediately
under the Wall which went from turret to turret, on which the Roman
sentries marched with slow and measured pace, when they did not choose
to expose themselves upon the parapets of the Wall, is not improbable;
though we now look in vain for any traces of it. But that the north
agger of the Vallum was thrown up either by Agricola or Hadrian to serve
the purposes of a road, is a proposition too startling to be received
even on the authority of the learned Horsley. In some places, indeed, it
is sufficiently flattened to admit of the passage of traffic along it,
but in the greater part of the course where the works of the Vallum are
not under cultivation, the rampart is too conical, too narrow, and too
ragged, to admit of such a use. Excepting in those situations, where
stones are mingled with the whole mass of the agger, it exhibits no
signs of having been paved.[37] The manner in which all the ramparts of
the Vallum on Tepper Moor are encumbered with blocks of basalt, clearly
shews, that here at least there has been no road. Besides, few who trace
the lines of the Vallum from sea to sea, and observe their complete
parallelism, will be able to resist the conclusion, that the whole of
the works were contemporaneous; whereas, Horsley’s theory ascribes part
to Agricola, and part to Hadrian: moreover, it may be added, that so
much do the northern and the southernmost aggers resemble each other,
that unbiassed observers will scarcely entertain a doubt, that they have
been thrown up to serve a precisely similar purpose.


Happily, there is no room for doubt respecting the other road, which
Horsley calls Severus’ Greater Military Way, as in the untilled
districts of the country it may be traced for several consecutive miles;
and if we receive the theory, that the Murus and Vallum are one work,
there is no need to seek for any other.


THE MILITARY WAY is usually about seventeen feet wide, and is composed
of rubble so arranged as to present a rounded surface, elevated in its
centre a foot or eighteen inches above the adjoining ground. When
carried along the slope of a hill, the hanging side is made up by large
kerb-stones. In most places where it still remains, it is completely
grass-grown, but may, notwithstanding, be easily distinguished from the
neighbouring ground by the colour of its herbage, the dryness of its
substratum allowing the growth of a finer description of plant. For the
same reason, a sheep-track generally runs along it. For the
accommodation of the soldiery, the road went from castle to castle, and
so, from station to station. In doing this, it did not always keep close
to the Wall, but took the easiest path between the required points. In
traversing the precipitous grounds between Sewingshields and Thirlwall,
the ingenuity of the engineer has been severely tried; but most
successfully has he performed his task. Whilst, as previously observed,
the Wall shoots over the highest and steepest summits, the road pursues
its tortuous course from one platform of the rock to another, so as to
bring the traveller from mile-castle to mile-castle by the easiest
possible gradients. Often has it been my lot to notice how naturally,
towards the close of a fatiguing day’s march, the less zealous of our
exploring party, more anxious to select an easy track than to keep close
companionship with the Wall, have, most unconsciously, pursued the route
of the Roman way. But, notwithstanding all the art of the engineer, the
steepness of the road in some places is such, that most of our modern
carmen, with all their boasted skill, would be greatly puzzled if
required to traverse it with a waggon laden with military stores.[38]


Although the road now described has probably been the only carriage-way
between the two great lines of fortification, another, situated to the
south of them, has afforded direct communication between some of the
inland stations. From CILURNUM to MAGNA, the Wall forms a curved line,
in order to gain the highest hills of the district. For the
accommodation of those whose business did not require them to call at
any intermediate point, a road went, like the string of a bow, direct
from the one station to the other. This road, which is shewn in Plate
II., went near the modern village of Newburgh, where Roman remains are
occasionally found, and passed by the north gate of VINDOLANA,
Chesterholm, near to which a Roman mile-stone still stands. Some
portions of the ancient pavement still remain near Morwood. It is
probable that this Roman Military Way was further continued, south of
the Wall, direct to Stanwix.


If tradition is to be credited, the Romans were not satisfied with roads
as a means of rapidly communicating information; speaking-trumpets or
pipes, we are told, ran along the whole length of the Wall. Of this,
Drayton, long ago, sang in his Polyolbion—

  Townes stood upon my length, where garrisons were laid Their limits to
  defend; and for my greater aid, With turrets I was built, where
  sentinels were plac’d To watch upon the Pict; so me my makers grac’d
  With hollow pipes of brasse, along me still they went, By which they
  in one fort still to another sent, By speaking in the same, to tell
  them what to doe, And soe from sea to sea could I be whispered

Sir Christopher Ridley, in his letter tells us, that—

  In this Wall was theyr a trunck of brass, or whatever kynd of mettal,
  which went from one place to another along the Wall, and came into the
  Captaynes chamber, whereat they had watchers for the same, and yf
  theyr had bene stryfe or business betwyxt the enemies, and that the
  watchmen did blow a horn in at the end of the truncke that came into
  the chamber, and so from one to one; there was certayn money payed
  yearly to the mantenance of this trunck by the inhabitants theyrabout,
  and doith yet pay to some gentilmen in Northymberland, the which money
  is called horn-geld money.[39]


Camden also refers to this curious tradition. Once, but only once, have
I met with this story in my own rambles. Such myths will not long
outlive the introduction of the electric telegraph. ‘There are no old
people upon the Wall now,’ as a man of three-score lately said to me,
when I was endeavouring to persuade him to gather up from his still more
ancient neighbour the fire-side lore of by-gone times.

It is curious to observe that a similar statement is made respecting the
BARRIER of the UPPER ISTHMUS. A correspondent writes—

  One old man told me, that when he was young, on digging through one of
  the wall stations—at Upper Croy—they came upon stone pipes, laid
  horizontally in the soil, and joined at the ends like those for water.
  From the elevation of the place, it is quite obvious that they could
  not be water conduits. This old person said that the idea he had heard
  ‘learned people’ give of these pipes, was, that they were for speaking
  through. That the pipes were found, and made of stone, not clay, is

Pipes of lead are occasionally met with in the ruins of the stations,
and pipes of burnt clay are of very frequent occurrence. To this
circumstance the tradition probably owes its rise. They are not,
however, found in the Wall, and when placed in the stations, seem to
have served a different purpose. One use to which the tile-tubes have
been put has been the transmission of warm air throughout an apartment.
The walls of one of the chambers of the ‘baths’ at HUNNUM were lined
with them. Others may have been used, especially in high situations, for
collecting rain-water from the roofs of the dwellings, and conveying it
to cisterns. Besides, the inutility of the contrivance militates against
the probability of its adoption: the sentinels at their posts could
easily transmit hasty intelligence from end to end, by the voice or by
horns, without pipes imbedded in the Wall, which, even if constructed,
would probably be useless for such a purpose.

This traditionary fiction is probably of more than mediæval antiquity.
Xiphiline, in his life of Severus, tells some such marvellous tale about
the towers of Byzantium.

                  *       *       *       *       *


A description of the MASONRY of the erections which have passed in
review before us will conclude this general examination of the Barrier.

The following extract of a letter with which I have been favoured by
Robert Rawlinson, esq., Inspector of the Board of Health, will form an
excellent introduction to the subject.

  I have several times thought over the subject of the Roman Wall since
  I had the pleasure of seeing you. The Romans constructed works with
  many different kinds of masonry; no doubt all chosen to suit the
  material used, the place, and the skill of the builders. In Rome, and
  Italy generally, works of great magnificence were constructed, when
  the art displayed was equal to the grandeur of the design. Such a work
  was the famed Arch of Trajan, the Arch of Septimius Severus, the Arch
  of Constantine, the Baths of Diocletian, and others. In these works,
  construction of the highest order was used, and the sculptor emulated
  the architect. The lettered altars and sculptured figures found on the
  line of ‘the Wall’ must not be compared with the best workmanship of


  I am quite satisfied, in my own mind, that the general character of
  the work on the Wall was adapted to suit the time, the country, and
  more especially, the labourers employed on the work. The Wall, being a
  work of defence, had to be constructed in haste; the country was wild,
  rude, and without roads, excepting such as the Romans caused to be
  made. This ‘caused to be made’ is I think, the key to the character of
  the masonry chosen.... The form of construction is the easiest and
  strongest which rude, uneducated men could accomplish; and, with good
  mortar, such as the Romans knew so well how to make, is the kind of
  work calculated to endure for centuries, as we find it has done....
  The works of the Wall I consider to have been chiefly constructed by
  the natives, under the armed superintendence and teaching of the
  soldier. The Roman knew no right but that of the conqueror; his object
  was conquest for use; use of the land, and the labour that was upon
  it. The Roman soldier was a fighting animal, and was so far civilized
  as to know how to make the comparative savage do his work upon his
  plan, and this was shaped to suit the labour used. Consider the length
  of the Wall, and the extent of the works upon it, and it will be seen
  that for the army to have constructed it, would have been to have kept
  them constantly working instead of watching and fighting.

  Some years ago I had a large quantity of heavy masonry to construct on
  one of the railways. It was not unlike the Roman Wall in character. I
  found a difficulty in dealing with the regularly educated mason, and
  bought several scores of trowels and hammers; these I placed in the
  hands of uneducated labourers, set them to work under the
  superintendence of educated foremen, looking after the whole myself.
  This is a case similar to the one I have imagined for the great Wall;
  only the work my labourers performed had more difficulties about it
  than the Wall, and yet, these uneducated men performed the work

  Think of the Roman bringing in at the sword’s point, hundreds of
  captive natives, placing for the first time tools in their hands,
  indicating the work to be done, and compelling the trembling slaves to
  do it![41]

The stones employed in building the Wall and stations were very
carefully selected. When good stones were to be had near at hand, they
were taken; but those of inferior quality were never used to avoid the
labour of bringing better from a distance. In some parts of the line, in
Cumberland especially, the stone must have been brought from quarries
seven or eight miles off. A quartzose grit was generally selected not
only on account of its hardness, but because its rough surface gave it a
firmer adhesion to the mortar. The stone which has been used in the
works at Wallsend is of a much coarser grit than any that is found in
the neighbourhood.


The quarries from which the stone has been procured can in many
instances be precisely ascertained. At Fallowfield, not far from
CILURNUM, is an ancient quarry on the face of which the words,

                        [P]ETRA FLAVI CARANTINI,

the rock of Flavius Carantinus—are still to be traced. The vignette at
the close of this part represents its present condition. On opening out,
in the year 1837, some old quarries on the high, brown hill of Borcum,
near Thorngrafton, a small copper vessel was found, containing a large
number of coins, all of the upper empire. Another Roman quarry existed
on Haltwhistle Fell. In a paper recently read before the Society of
Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Mr. John Clayton says—

  In riding over Haltwhistle Fell, before its enclosure, in the summer
  of 1844, I came upon some workmen employed in re-opening an old
  quarry. They told me they had met with a ‘written stone’; I
  dismounted, and climbed the face of the rock, when I found inscribed
  in letters clear and fresh

                               LEG. VI. V.

  From its position on a wide waste, far removed from any abode, but in
  the immediate vicinity of the Roman Wall, this quarry could not
  possibly have been used for any other purpose than to supply stones
  for the building of the Wall; and from the freshness of the letters of
  the inscription, it must have been filled up with earth soon after the
  soldiers ceased to use it. The workmen promised to spare the ‘written
  rock,’ but the next time I rode that way it had been shivered to


  Drawn & Lithographed   by John Storey


In Cumberland, there are several Roman inscriptions on the face of the
ancient quarries. About a mile west of Birdoswald, and little more than
a quarter of a mile south of the road, is Coome Crag, which, besides
other markings, presents the following inscription—

                              SE · · RVS
                              AI · · · ·
                              · · · VSTUS

This perhaps may be read—SEVERUS ALEXANDER AUGUSTUS. The most remarkable
of this class of Antiquities, however, is the ‘Written Rock of the
Gelt,’ near Brampton. The lithograph on the opposite page is a very
accurate representation of this curious relic of antiquity. As the scar
is nearly perpendicular, and the river Gelt washes its base, it is not
without some difficulty that the inquiring visitor can give it a
satisfactory examination; it will, however, well reward his exertions,
and the beauty of the surrounding scenery will give additional zest to
the ramble. [Sidenote: INSCRIPTIONS ON THE QUARRIES.]The inscribed part
of the rock is fully fifty feet above the water. The letters seem to
have been made by connecting with a chisel or pick a [Illustration:
‘Letters] number of holes drilled in the rock in the required order; at
all events, the terminations of the strokes have been thus formed. Some
doubt exists as to the precise reading of the inscription, but the
general purport of it is this:—The vexillarii of the second legion under
an optio called Agricola, were, in the consulship of Flavius Aper and
Albinus Maximus (A.D. 207), employed to hew stone here for the
Romans.[42] It is piteous, when surveying so interesting a relic of
antiquity, and one which has outlived the accidents of upwards of
sixteen centuries, to observe that it has been approached by men who
cannot sympathize with the mighty dead, and who care not what violence
they do to the feelings of those who can. To the defacement, as I
believe, of some portion of the inscription, the names of F. GRAHAM, W.
HARDCASTLE, T. THOMPSON, W. NELSON, have been carved upon the rock.
Notoriety is easily earned, but it is not always of an enviable

[Illustration: Form of Wall-Stone]


The exterior masonry of the Wall consists, on both sides, of carefully
squared free-stone blocks[43]; the interior, of rubble of any
description firmly imbedded in mortar. The character of the
facing-stones is peculiar, yet pretty uniform. They are eight or nine
inches thick, and ten or eleven broad; their length, which is perhaps
their characteristic feature, not unfrequently amounts to twenty inches.
The part of the stone exposed to the weather is cut across ‘the bait,’
so as to avoid its scaling off by the lines of stratification; the stone
tapers towards the end which is set into the Wall, and has a form nearly
resembling that of a wedge. The cut shews its usual form. Owing to the
extent to which the stones are set into the Wall, the necessity of
bonding tiles—so characteristic of Roman masonry in the south of
England—is altogether superseded. There does not appear to have been a
single tile used in any part of the Wall. Stones of the shape and size
which have now been described were just those which could be most easily
wrought in the quarry, most conveniently carried on the backs of the
poor enslaved Britons to the Wall, and most easily fitted into their
bed. The uniformity in their appearance is such as to enable us, after a
little practice, at once to recognize them in the churches, castles,
farm-buildings, and fences of the district through which the Wall runs.

[Illustration: Junction of the west wall of Birdoswald with the Wall]


In Cumberland, the stones are rather larger than in the eastern portion
of the line, a thickness of twelve inches not being uncommon, with a
corresponding breadth. The blocks in the north face of the Wall, also,
are not unfrequently larger than those in the south. The stones of which
the walls of the stations are composed are smaller than those of the
main Wall. Their average thickness is from five to seven inches, and
their breadth from six to eight. The woodcut which is here introduced,
depicts the junction of the west wall of the station of AMBOGLANNA with
the Wall, and well displays the different character of the stones used
in two erections. As already observed, the stations appear to have been
built before the Wall, and as the necessity of the case required that
they should be run up as quickly as possible, a smaller class of stone
was allowed to pass muster here than was used in the Wall. The
workmanship also is of inferior quality.


[Illustration: diamond broaching]

The front of the stones, both of the Wall and stations, is roughly
‘scabbled’ with the pick. In some parts of the line, this tooling takes
a definite form; when this is the case, the marking called the diamond
broaching is most common. Sometimes the [Illustration: waved lines]
stone is scored with waved lines, or with small squares, or with nearly
upright lines. The woodcuts illustrative of the masonry at Chester Holm,
and of the Crypt at Hexham, to be introduced along with [Illustration:
upright lines] the account of these places, will exemplify some of these
kinds of broaching. It was not until I had become tolerably familiar
with the Wall, that my attention was called to this peculiar kind of
tooling. A visit to HABITANCUM and BREMENIUM, where the stones are
nearly all broached in the diamond fashion, induced me to inspect the
Wall more narrowly in this respect. I have since frequently detected it,
especially in Cumberland. It is rare in the Northumbrian portion. Is
this broaching peculiar to a particular legion, or to a certain period?
The station of HABITANCUM is understood to have been rebuilt by
Caracalla—can the other stations, and those parts of the Wall where this
kind of marking appears, have also undergone repair at the same time, or
is it the work of some particular legion? The same kind of broaching may
be noticed in some of the stones at Chester, the DEVA ICENORUM of the
Romans, which was for a long time the head quarters of the 20th legion.
Though unable to resolve the doubt, I think that the prosecution of the
inquiry may lead to some worthy result.

[Sidenote: MASONS' MARKS.]



Cuttings resembling masons’ marks occasionally occur. Sometimes they
consist of a single or double stroke; sometimes of a diagonal cross,
sometimes of a rectangular. The other marks which are here represented
are less frequently met with.[44]


[Sidenote: ROMAN MORTAR.]

The tenacity of the mortar which was used, forms an important element in
the strength of the whole fabric. That which is in use now is generally
spoiled, from a variety of circumstances. The prevailing practice is,
first of all, to slack the lime by pouring a quantity of water upon it
when lying in a heap; in most cases this does not sufficiently pulverize
it: it is then mixed with any earth bearing the least resemblance to
sand, and the two are worked together very imperfectly with a shovel.
The mortar thus made often stands and hardens, so as to require to to be
once and again mixed with water, and worked up before it is used. It
thus becomes quite impoverished; and, after all, for the convenience of
the mason, it is employed in so dry a state that the stone soon takes
all the moisture from it, and it becomes little better than powder. The
gigantic railway operations of recent times have driven men out of the
beaten track, and compelled them afresh to discover the Roman method of
preparing mortar. On the authority of engineers well acquainted with the
Roman Wall, I am enabled to state, that the mortar of that structure is
precisely similar to the grout and concrete[45] of the railway mason of
the present day. Specimens of the ancient and modern grout are before
me, and there cannot be a doubt as to the identity of their preparation.

The following is the mode in which the railway engineer prepares his
mortar. The lime, in the state in which it comes from the kiln, is first
ground to powder, and is then mixed with sand and gravel, and chippings
of stone. The purposes for which the mortar is required indicate the
coarseness and quantity of the intermingling gravel. When wanted as
concrete, to form, independently of other materials, the foundation of
some heavy structure, stony fragments of larger size are mingled with
the lime than when the mortar is to be used to cement chiselled stones,
or even than when wanted to constitute with rubble the interior of a
wall. The mixture of pounded lime and gravel, when made, is not mingled
with water, until the moment of its application to the work for which it
is required, but it is then intimately united with an abundant quantity
of it. When used as concrete, the mass will, in three hours, have
solidity sufficient to bear the weight of a man, and in about three days
it will have acquired a rock-like firmness.

Such, doubtless, is the way[46] in which the mortar of the Roman Wall
was prepared, and it would have this very important advantage over that
generally used at present, that, in a very short time, the work would
acquire a massiveness and strength, sufficient to resist the attacks of
an enemy. The mortar of the Saxon and Norman periods is of the same

Occasionally, but by no means frequently, small pieces of charcoal are
mixed with the mortar. These have evidently been derived from the wood
used in burning the lime. Excepting in the buildings of the stations,
pounded tile, so characteristic of the Roman mortar in the south of
England, is by no means a common constituent of the mortar of the Wall.
Limestone is abundant in most parts of the district through which the
Wall passes. The Romans probably burnt it in ‘sow kilns.’ The limestone
and fuel being arranged in alternate layers, the whole was carefully
covered with turf and ignited. This simple method is still much resorted
to when the lime is wanted for farm purposes.

                                                             _PLATE III_

[Illustration: Sections and Elevations of the Masonry of the Wall]


Supposing the stones to be now quarried and squared, the lime burnt and
mixed with sand and gravel, the next point to be attended to is the
method of using them. The foundation has been prepared by the removal of
the natural soil to the width of about nine feet. In the hill district,
a very scanty portion of earth covers the rocks; in the richer regions
an excavation of from fifteen to eighteen inches has been made before
the subsoil was reached. On the outer and inner margins of the ground
thus bared, two rows of flags of from two to four inches in thickness,
and from eighteen to twenty in breadth, were generally laid; no mortar
was placed under them.[47] On these lay the first course of
facing-stones, which were usually the largest stones used in the
structure. In higher courses the facing-stones are uniformly of
free-stone, on the ground course a ‘whin-stone’ is occasionally
introduced. The flagstones of the foundation usually project from one to
five inches beyond the first course of facing-stones, and these again
usually stand out an inch or two beyond the second course, after which,
the wall is taken straight up. In some parts of the line the flagstones
do not appear in the foundation—the first course of facing-stones being
laid directly upon the ground. In the neighbourhood of Sewingshields,
where large tracts of the Wall have been recently removed, a careful
observer informs me, that the entire foundation has for some distance
been laid upon a bed of clay of three or four inches thick.


One or two courses of facing-stones having been placed in their beds and
carefully pointed, a mass of mortar in a very fluid state was poured
into the interior of the wall, and stones of any kind or shape that were
of a convenient size were ‘puddled’ in amongst it. Whin-stones, as being
most abundant in the district, are generally used for the filling.
Course after course was added, and one mass of concrete imposed upon
another, until the Wall reached the required height. When the whole was
finished it formed a solid, compact mass, without any holes or crevices
in the interior, and in a short time became as firm as the unhewn rock.

In some parts of the line the mortar has been ‘hand-laid.’ The rubble of
the interior having been first disposed in its place, the mortar has
been laid upon it with a trowel. In this case the mortar never
penetrates the interstices of the mass, and does not make such solid
masonry as the method generally pursued. When, however, this plan is
adopted, the rubble stones are often laid upon their edges in a slanting
position; and when those of the next layer, as occasionally occurs, are
made to lean in the opposite direction, we have the kind of
[Illustration: herring-bone work] masonry represented in the adjoining
diagram, which is appropriately called herring-bone work. The nearest
approach to this that I have seen upon the line of the Wall is at
Steel-rig, and Hare-hill. In Hodgson’s Northumberland[48] a section of
the Wall on Walltown crag is given, exhibiting herring-bone masonry. In
this instance the stones are disposed transversely to the Wall, at
Steel-rig and Hare-hill they are disposed longitudinally; the latter
method is the easier of the two.[49]

On wavy ground the courses of the Wall follow the undulations of the
surface, but on steep inclines the stones are laid parallel to the
horizon. The Wall, in this case, must have been built up from the bottom
of the defile, where also, in order the better to resist the
superincumbent mass, it not unfrequently has a greater breadth than
usual. As shewing that different sections of the Wall have been erected
under distinct superintendents, it may occasionally be observed that,
whilst on one slope of a ‘gap’ the stones are laid parallel to the
horizon, on the other, differing little perhaps in inclination, they are
laid even with the ground.


We must now take leave of this important part of our subject, the
masonry of the Wall. Judging from those portions of it which remain, it
may safely be asserted, that no structure can be conceived to possess
greater strength and durability. The first time I happened to visit
Bowness (in the year 1831), some portions of the Wall, seven feet high,
were in the course of being removed; it was found necessary to resort to
the force of gunpowder in order to effect its destruction. In the
substantial nature of their works, the Romans have left the impress of
their own mighty minds. They built not for the day. They did not
conceive that their existence was bound up in the fate of a single
generation, but that it was spread over the destinies of succeeding
ages. Their works contrast strongly with the efforts of some modern
builders. The editor of the pictorial volume, styled ‘Old England,’
seems, in the following passage, to speak from personal observation.

  Passing by the fragments of which we have spoken, we are under the
  north wall [of Richborough]—a wondrous work calculated to impress us
  with a conviction that the people who built it were not the petty
  labourers of an hour, who were contented with temporary defences and
  frail resting places. The outer works upon the southern cliff of
  Dover, which were run up during the war with Napoleon, at prodigious
  expense, are crumbling and perishing, through the weakness of job and
  contract, which could not endure for half a century. And here stand
  the walls of Richborough, as they have stood for eighteen hundred
  years, from twenty to thirty feet high, eleven or twelve feet thick at
  the base, with their outer masonry in many parts as perfect as at the
  hour when their courses of tiles and stones were first laid in
  beautiful regularity.


If the meddling hand of man had been withheld from the Barrier of the
Lower Isthmus, the Wall might have stood, even to the present hour, in
almost its original integrity. It is necessary to say ‘almost,’ for
nothing can be more correct than the observation of Hodgson—

  Though man has had the chief labour in effecting its destruction, its
  whole line and all its stations, castles, and towers, ever since it
  was deserted by the Romans, have been incessantly suffering
  prostration by the hand of nature. The feeble roots of grasses, ferns,
  and shrubs, have been assisted by the more destructive wedges and
  levers of forest trees in levelling it with the ground; and, in many
  places in the west of this county, for considerable distances
  together, the ruins that time has thrown from its brow, lie in a deep
  green mound at its feet; and thorns, briars, hazel, and mountain ash
  (entwined with relentless ivy), are still, in the parts that remain
  above ground, at the labour of demolition in which, for the last
  fourteen centuries, they have been unceasingly engaged.

In this day, when the Arabic numerals assert an influence quite as
potent as that which the lictors’ rods obtained in ancient Rome, the
inquiries may not be destitute of interest—What amount of labour was
involved in the construction of the Barrier, in what time could it be
accomplished, and what, at the present value of labour and materials,
would be the cost of its construction?


  The Wall is sixty-eight miles long; granting that it was only sixteen
  feet high, but had a continuous thickness of eight feet, we have
  1,702,115 cubic yards of masonry, to say nothing of stations,
  mile-castles, and turrets.

  Twelve shillings per cubic yard is as near as may be the present value
  of masonry, such as that of which the Roman Wall consists—the cost of
  this part of the structure would therefore be 1,021,269_l._

  Taking into account that the labour was forced, each cubic yard of the
  Wall would, at the least, require, in quarrying the stone, its
  carriage to the Wall, its setting, and other operations, one entire
  day’s exertions of one man. In this way we have 1,702,115 days’ labour
  in the stone Wall.

  Taking the north fosse at the dimensions already given, its excavation
  would involve the removal of 5,585,072 cubic yards. A modern
  excavator, stimulated by pay proportioned to his work, enjoying food,
  and raiment, and shelter, such as the ancient Briton was a stranger
  to, and possessing the advantage of good tools, and good organization,
  can remove the enormous quantity of twenty cubic yards of earth per
  day. The labourer, driven to his ungrateful task by a Roman
  task-master, and compelled to support himself as best he might, and to
  labour with tools of the rudest construction, would not accomplish the
  half of this task; the removal of eight yards _per diem_ would
  probably be an average day’s work. The excavation of the north fosse
  would thus, under these circumstances, involve 698,134 days’ labour.
  At the present time, when twenty cubic yards may be removed per man in
  a day, and when a day’s wages may be set down at half-a-crown, the
  whole cost of the excavation of the fosse would be 34,906_l._

  In this estimate no account has been taken of the increased labour
  occasioned by cutting through the rocks that are sometimes met with.
  The entire absence of the ditch, however, in the hilly district,
  compensates for this omission.

  The fosse of the Vallum is rather less than that of the Wall. Making a
  deduction of one-third on this account, and supposing that the
  distance which the Vallum falls short of the Wall at each extremity,
  makes amends for the increased labour of cutting through the rocky
  ground, we have 3,723,382 cubic yards to be removed, involving 465,422
  days of forced labour. The whole could now be done for the sum of
  23,271_l._ No account is taken of the labour expended in raising the
  earthen ramparts, or the cost of their construction, for the reason,
  that the removal of the earth from the fosse implied its being
  deposited somewhere; no place would be more convenient for this
  purpose than the mounds of the rampart.


  Adding together these results, we find that the cost of the Wall and
  its north fosse would be 1,056,175_l._, and that the cost of the
  Vallum, added to this would form a total of 1,079,446_l._ The number
  of days’ labour involved in the Wall would be 2,400,249, and, adding
  to this, that of the Vallum, we have for the whole 2,865,671 days’

  The largest number of men that we can conceive to be brought to bear
  at once upon the Wall, including such of the Roman troops as could be
  spared from military operations, is ten thousand. This body, at the
  rate already supposed, would, by continuous labour, execute the Wall
  and its ditch in 240 days, and, taking the Vallum also into account,
  in 286 days. In the exposed district over which the Wall runs, it is
  not probable that the weather would allow of the work being pursued
  during more than two hundred days in the year. If, in addition to
  this, we make deductions for the chances of war, two years may be
  stated as the shortest time in which the whole of the works could be

A recent writer, who, in a work denominated ‘A History of the Picts or
Romano-British Wall,’ adopts the notion of Gildas, that the stone wall
was built, not by Hadrian or Severus, but by the trembling Britons on
their abandonment by the Romans, supports his opinion by denominating
the work an un-Roman-like defence, and argues that men who were
unaccustomed to fear, would not seek the assistance of a wall and a
ditch. However regardless of life the Romans may, in the abstract, have
been, they knew how to economize their resources. In the battle of the
Grampians, Agricola withheld his legionary soldiers, and made use only
of his auxiliary troops. He could better afford to expend the one than
the other. As well might a warrior despise the protection of a helmet or
a shield, as refuse the defence of a stone wall.


The best refutation, however, of this theory, is the fact, that in other
places the Romans, about the same period, raised similar barriers. At
two of these we shall glance, before beginning a detailed inspection of
the Barrier of the Lower Isthmus. The comparison will probably afford
valuable instruction.


The DEVIL’S WALL, in Germany, bears many marks of resemblance to the
English Wall. It seems[50] to consist of the _Pfahl_, a mound of stakes,
or vallum, ascribed to Hadrian, and a stone wall which is said to have
been executed by some of his successors. The works extended westwards
from Regensburg [Ratisbon] on the Danube, towards the sources of that
river, a distance of nearly two hundred miles. They formed the boundary
of the Roman empire in those parts where the Danube was not broad and
deep enough to be of itself a sufficient protection. A deep trench ran
along the Wall on its northern side, and along its southern face roads
and camps were formed. At regular intervals of one mile, towers of
observation were placed of the same size, though, being circular, not of
the same form as the mile-castles on the English Wall. It is not
possible, from the present remains, to determine with certainty the
height or breadth of the Wall. ‘I found it in many places,’ says
Professor Buchner, ‘from four to six, in others from ten to twelve, feet
broad. We may therefore perhaps conclude, that its medium breadth was
from six to seven feet, and that its height, as corresponding to this
breadth, may have been from eighteen to twenty-four feet.’ The works
have the same tendency to advance in a straight line as those of our own
Barrier. ‘No mountain is so high, no abyss so steep, no wood so thick,
no morass so profound, through which it does not penetrate.’ ‘The whole
line of the fortification has been laid down and executed according to a
well-digested plan.’


GRAHAM’S DIKE, so denominated probably from the Celtic words _grym_,
strength, and _diog_, a ditch, is a barrier which fortified the Upper
Isthmus of Britain. It extended from Borrowstoness, on the Firth of
Forth, to West Kilpatrick, on the river Clyde, a distance of about
twenty-seven English miles. It was constructed by Lollius Urbicus in the
reign of Antoninus Pius, the adopted son of Hadrian. The following
succinct account of this important design is taken from the ‘Caledonia
Romana,’ a work of great ability, by the late lamented Mr. Robert
Stuart, of Glasgow:—

  This great military work consisted, in the first place, of an immense
  fosse or ditch—averaging about forty feet in width, by some twenty in
  depth—which extended over hill and plain, in one unbroken line, from
  sea to sea. Behind this ditch, on its southern side, and within a few
  feet of its edge, was raised a rampart of intermingled stone and
  earth, strengthened by sods of turf, which measured, it is supposed,
  about twenty feet in height, and twenty-four in thickness at the base.
  This rampart, or _agger_, was surmounted by a parapet, behind which
  ran a level platform, for the accommodation of its defenders. To the
  southward of the whole was situated the Military Way—a regular
  causewayed road, about twenty-feet wide—which kept by the course of
  the Wall at irregular distances, approaching, in some instances, to
  within a few yards, and in others receding to a considerable extent.
  Along the entire line there were established, it is believed, nineteen
  principal stations or forts. The mean distance between each may be
  stated at rather more than two English miles. Along these intervals
  were placed many smaller _castella_, or watch-towers. While the
  continuous rampart seems to have been little more than a well-formed
  earthen mound, it is probable that many, if not all, of the stations,
  were either rivetted with stone or entirely built of that material. In
  some places, it would even appear that the Vallum itself had been
  raised upon a stone foundation—probably in situations where the ground
  was low and marshy, and where it was found necessary to form drains
  beneath the works, to prevent the accumulation of water on their
  anterior side.


The Barrier of the Upper Isthmus never consisted of more than a single
line of fortification. This circumstance may seem to militate against
the view that we have taken of the double line of the Southern Barrier.
If in the one case the conquered tribes to the south were disregarded,
why should they not be so in the other also? We shall not, however,
greatly err if we regard the Antonine Wall as but an advanced work of
Hadrian’s entrenchment. On this view of the matter, the difficulty is at
once removed, for the Lower Barrier would be a sufficient security
against danger in the rear. Certain it is, that the southern line was
not abandoned when the other was constructed. Several altars have been
found on the Lower Barrier inscribed with the name Antoninus Pius.[51] A
slab bearing the names of the consuls Sex. Sulpicius Tertullus, and C.
Tineius Sacerdos, elicits the following remarks from judge Cay[52]:—

  These were consuls in A.D. 158; consequently, we have undeniable
  authority to assert, that Antoninus Pius repaired Hadrian’s Vallum
  (or, at least, the stations _per lineam Valli_), as well as built one
  between the Scottish Firths. This stone is certainly most valuable, as
  it clearly proves, that though Antoninus extended the boundary so far
  north, he could not, or durst not, trust the Mæatæ, but thought
  himself obliged to keep up the southern pretenturæ, lest they should,
  on any disturbance, join the Caledonians.

Such prudence is characteristic of good generalship. Napoleon never made
an important move without first resolving what to do in case of failure.
Assuredly Hadrian did not act in a manner unbecoming a Roman, when, at
the same time that he shewed a stony front to the Caledonians, he placed
an earthen rampart between himself and the doubtful fidelity of his
southern subjects.


The position of the Barriers of the Lower and of the Upper Isthmus, and
of the Devil’s Wall, in relation to the rivers in their vicinity,
requires some remark. The Tyne in the eastern, and the Irthing and the
Eden in the western part of the island, are uniformly to the south of
the English Wall. A similar remark applies to the Devil’s Wall, in
Germany, which is drawn along the northern shore of the Danube, the side
exposed to the enemy. The Clyde, and its feeders, are to the south of
the Antonine Wall. Why did the Romans not avail themselves of the
natural trenches of these river-basins? The valley of the Tyne is
peculiarly broad and deep. A chain of camps on its southern bank, where
the mediæval castles afterwards stood, would alone, we might suppose,
have bid defiance to the passage of any foe.

A similarity of practice in these cases favours the belief that
important objects were to be accomplished by it. What are they?—

By erecting a chain of posts on the high grounds to the north of the
rivers, a better observation of the movements of the enemy was obtained
than would otherwise have been practicable. In the days of Roman
occupation, large tracts of country, the banks of rivers especially,
would be covered with forests. The conquerors, unless they had secured
the enemy’s side of the river-basins, would have been perpetually
subject to unexpected attacks. They could not be so easily taken by
surprise on the high grounds of the northern slopes.


Probably the value of the land on the margin of the rivers, was an
additional motive for the course pursued. The alluvial soil by a river’s
side is usually the most fertile portion of a country. The banks of the
Tyne and the Eden are peculiarly productive. Without a wall the enemy
would have had undisputed possession of the slopes which enjoyed the
finest aspect—that to the south—while those on the other side would have
been subject to frequent depredation. This consideration is of the more
importance, as the lands of the district were given to the soldiers who
garrisoned the frontier, as a means of securing their fidelity.


So far from the importance of the natural boundary, the river, being
overlooked by the Romans, I am disposed to regard the works on its
northern bank as a proof of the value which they set upon it. The
natural and the artificial barriers were probably regarded by them as
but separate members of one complete fortification. In case of a rush of
invasion from the North, the Wall would arrest the attack and the river
entirely repel it. The stone and earth works would impede the progress
of a foe, however formidable, and give time for the formation of an army
on the southern bank of the stream. It was, moreover, ‘political in the
Romans,’ as Stukely remarks,[53] 'to leave on the north side of the Wall
that huge tract of waterless and dismal moor, a great barren solitude,
where in some places you may walk sixty miles endwise, without meeting
with a house or tree; to ride is impracticable. Thus, as much as in them
lay, without the horror of barbarity, did they remove the barbarians
from their territories; whilst within the Wall, either naturally or by
their industry, all things smiled like the garden of Eden.'

The vast hosts which the Caledonians were able to muster rendered all
these precautions necessary; and it was, moreover, becoming in the
Romans—a generation of warriors the mightiest the world has ever seen—to
plant the foot firmly on any land they thought fit to occupy. Assuredly
they did so in the Lower Isthmus of Britain.

[Illustration: Written Rock, at Fallow-field.]


Footnote 14:

  Hodgson states the mean of nineteen measurements to be one hundred and
  twenty six yards.—_Northumberland_, II. iii. 310. This high number is
  obtained by its including the mountain districts, where the works are
  widely separated.

Footnote 15:

  Harl. MSS. 374,—impr. Hodg. North’d. II. iii. 273.

Footnote 16:

  Harl. MSS. 373,—impr. Richardson’s Reprints and Imprints, divis.

Footnote 17:

  It will be observed here that the erection of this structure has not
  been _always_ ascribed to Severus.

Footnote 18:

  Greater extremes are met with, but they are rare. Hodgson in a note p.
  276 says, The foundations in the turnpike-road, just west of Portgate
  are scarcely seven feet broad; but opposite a plantation a little
  further west, ten feet and a half. Hutton found the Wall at Brunton
  only five feet and a half thick.

Footnote 19:

  This is particularly the case about Old Wall in Cumberland.

Footnote 20:

  Hutton’s Roman Wall, 139.

Footnote 21:

  Hodg. North’d. II. iii. 276.

Footnote 22:

  Horsley, in the profiles of the barrier which he gives, represents the
  marginal rampart or _agger_ as being much larger than the south one.
  The present aspect of the works does not warrant such a delineation.

Footnote 23:

  When travelling along the road west of Birdoswald, I have seen a
  ploughman and his team entirely disappear, on descending into the
  fosse of the Vallum.

Footnote 24:

  An inspection of Horsley’s own sections will at once show
  this.—_Britan. Romana_, 158.

Footnote 25:

  In corroboration of this statement, it may be mentioned that an
  intelligent and substantial farmer offered to take, on a twenty-one
  years’ lease, the Corchester field, in which the station of
  CORSTOPITUM stood, at the yearly rate of 6_l._ per acre. It contains
  twelve acres.

Footnote 26:

  The Notitia has _Lergorum_, but it will be afterwards shewn that this
  is probably an error for _Lingonum_.

Footnote 27:

  The Notitia has _Astorum_ in this and the subsequent instances, but
  all the inscriptions hitherto found have _Asturum_.

Footnote 28:

  Brit. Rom. 102.

Footnote 29:

  Ibid. 473.

Footnote 30:

  This slab is in the possession of his Grace the Duke of
  Northumberland, and is preserved, along with several other interesting
  reliques of the Wall, in that noble baronial residence, so worthy of
  the chiefs of Percy, Alnwick Castle.

Footnote 31:

  Now in the Dean and Chapter Library at Durham.

Footnote 32:

  According both to Hyginus and Vegetius, the first cohort of a legion,
  in the times of the lower empire, was called _milliaria_, from its
  being stronger than any cohort of the legion, and from its generally
  consisting of about a thousand men.

                                                    _Arch. Æl._ ii., 83.

Footnote 33:

  A correspondent of the author writes 'Even in my own day it was the
  custom of the superstitious, on the line of the Wall, especially
  between Birdoswald and Cambeck Fort to pound the stones, bearing
  inscriptions, into sand for their kitchens, or bury them in the
  foundations of houses or walls, for the simple reason that they
  considered them unlucky—calling them 'witch stones’. When one was
  found, the _old wives_ fearing that the butter might not form in the
  churn, took good care that it should never again make its appearance.
  Thus down went many a splendid Roman altar, a sacrifice to ignorance
  and superstition'!

Footnote 34:

  The plough has now passed over the station of Watch Cross. The
  enquiries which I have made on the spot, and in the neighbourhood,
  are, on the whole, confirmatory of Hodgson’s view.

Footnote 35:

  Mounsey’s Account of the occupation of Carlisle in 1745.

Footnote 36:

  Ford’s Hand-book of Spain, 1st edition, p. 306.

Footnote 37:

  On putting the inquiry pointedly to a person who had ploughed up some
  portions of the Vallum in the neighbourhood of Wallend, Cumberland,
  and who was also acquainted with the mode in which the Maiden-way (a
  Roman road) was formed, I was told that there were no traces of
  pavement in the Vallum.

Footnote 38:

  We must not, however, pronounce a road to be impracticable, because
  now it would be thought so. A Northumberland farmer, speaking to me
  upon this subject, said he had seen roads which, in his neighbourhood,
  were regularly traversed only a century ago, on which no one would
  venture now-a-days; ‘it was like coming down a crag-side.’ He had
  driven through mosses in which the horses were commonly enveloped, but
  had no misgivings so long as he could see the heads of the animals.

Footnote 39:

  Hodgson, however, distinctly proves, that the _cornage_, or
  castle-guard rent of the North of England—originally a payment in lieu
  of cattle, and called in English, _horngeld_ and _neatgeld_,
  cattle-tax, or ox-lay—has nothing whatever to do with sounding the
  war-alarm by _horns_.

Footnote 40:

  It must, however, be borne in mind, that even the uneducated labourer,
  in a highly civilized community, has unconsciously received a
  considerable amount of mental training, which places him in a
  situation much superior to that of the mere savage.

Footnote 41:

  The remainder of this valuable communication is, in order to avoid
  repetition, embodied in the subsequent account of the Masonry of the

Footnote 42:

  Hodgson II. ii. 298.

Footnote 43:

  It would be described by a modern builder as a rough blocking course.

Footnote 44:

  The cuts representing these markings are transferred from my note
  book, without reference to scale.

Footnote 45:

  Concrete contains less lime, and is mixed with a smaller proportion of
  water than grout. It is chiefly used in large masses, to form an
  artificial foundation for a building.

Footnote 46:

  The almost entire absence of those little white lumps of lime, not
  properly mixed with sand, which are found in the imperfectly prepared
  mortar of modern times, shews that the lime must in some way have been
  crushed by rollers or beaters.

Footnote 47:

  Mr. Bell, of Irthington, tells me that in some places the foundation
  flags of the north side point upwards, at an angle of about twenty
  degrees, caused apparently by the settling of the ponderous mass. In
  this circumstance, we have an interesting confirmation of the
  supposition that the Wall was surmounted with a parapet on its north
  side. The foundation would have settled equally if both sides had been
  burdened alike.

Footnote 48:

  Part II. v. iii. p. 294.

Footnote 49:

  In some parts of the line, the joints of the Wall are at present
  filled with earthy matter instead of mortar, and it is the opinion of
  some authorities, and amongst them, the eminent architect and
  intelligent antiquary, Mr. Dobson, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, that in
  these places, clay has been originally substituted for mortar. Very
  loath to suppose that the original builders of the Wall would leave
  any portion of it in so unsatisfactory a state, I have been in the
  habit of accounting for the apparent absence of mortar in the
  following way:—The upper part of the structure having been overthrown
  by a ruthless enemy, and the lower parts covered with the fallen
  rubbish, the whole heap would speedily become coated with vegetation.
  Roman mortar, with all its tenacity, would not be able to resist the
  powers of vitality; and the constant demands of the ferns and the
  foxgloves would, in the course of time, abstract the whole of the
  lime. The roots of the plants, by whose agency the work of abstraction
  had proceeded, yielding in due time to the process of decay, would
  themselves, in the form of vegetable earth, supply the place of the
  lime which they had withdrawn.

Footnote 50:

  The only source of information which I have upon the subject of this
  wall, is a translation of an extract from a pamphlet by Professor
  Buchner, of Regensburg, in the first volume of the ‘Archæologia
  Æliana.’ The precise relation which the _Pfahl_ bears to the stone
  Wall does not very clearly appear from this paper; to all appearance,
  however, the analogy between the German and English barriers is very

Footnote 51:

  Hodg. North’d. II. iii. 276.

Footnote 52:

  Ibid. 284.

Footnote 53:

  Iter Boreale, 67.




                      ~The Roman Barrier of the
                          Lower Isthmus.~

                               PART III.

Little did the Romans dream, when they fixed the eastern termination of
their Wall at SEGEDUNUM, of the world-wide celebrity which its
subsequent cognomen—Wallsend—would attain. Even Horsley, writing in
1731, and in what he lovingly terms 'my own county,'[54] did not foresee
the extensive mining operations which shortly after his day were to take
place in its immediate vicinity. In order to mark the site of the
station, he fixes upon Cousin’s House, which is at some distance from
the spot, whereas, the principal shaft of the celebrated mine is close
beside its western rampart.

SEGEDUNUM, Wallsend, is admirably selected as the site of a Roman
station, and as the eastern terminus of the Wall. Without being so
much[Sidenote: SEGEDUNUM.] elevated as to give it a painful exposure to
the blasts of the north and of the east, it commands a view, in every
direction, of the adjacent country. The ground, in front of it, slopes
rapidly down to the river’s brink, and has a full exposure to the
mid-day sun. The beauty of its situation is considerable now; what must
it have been when aged oaks crowned the contiguous heights, and the Tyne
rolled by in the brilliancy and exuberance of its youth!

[Sidenote: WALLSEND.]

Eastward of Wallsend, the river acquires a sufficient magnitude to make
it a barrier quite formidable enough to prevent the ready passage of a
foe, and to render the erection of a wall unnecessary. Frequently,
however, would it be needful for the watchful eye of the Roman prefect
at SEGEDUNUM to traverse the expanse which lay between him and the sea.
This he could easily do. The station stands upon a bend of the river,
formed by two of the longest ‘reaches’ which it makes in the whole of
its course. The Long-reach extends downwards as far as the high end of
South Shields, and the Bill-reach stretches nearly two miles up the
water. In both directions, therefore, any operations conducted on the
river would be easily discerned from the station.

[Sidenote: SEGEDUNUM.]

Although it was not thought requisite to extend the Wall further along
the northern bank of the Tyne than Wallsend, special precautions were
taken to secure the mouth of the river from hostile occupation. A camp
at Tynemouth, and another at North Shields, were garrisoned by troops
from the head quarters at SEGEDUNUM; these frowned over the northern
shore of the estuary. A subsidiary station at Tyne Lawe, near South
Shields, and another at Jarrow, guarded its southern bank, whilst one at
Wardley, opposite Wallsend, would effectually support, on that side of
the river, the operations of the garrison in the principal encampment.
All of these will be examined afterwards.

[Illustration: Altar to Jupiter-Coh. IV. Lingonum]

The evidence by which Wallsend is identified with the _Segedunum_ of the
Notitia is not so direct as could be desired. First in the list of
officers ‘along the line of the Wall,’ the Notitia places the Tribune of
the fourth cohort of the Lergi at SEGEDUNUM. Now, no inscription has
been found in Britain mentioning the Lergi, but inscriptions have been
found which mention the second and fourth cohorts of the Lingones; on
the other hand, the Lingones never occur in the Notitia, but the cohorts
of the Lergi which are there recorded, are the second and the fourth.
This being the case, and the difference in the form of the Latin words
_Lergorum_ and _Lingonum_ being very slight, the probability is, as Mr.
Thomas Hodgson, in an able paper in the Archæologia Æliana, conjectures,
that some early transcriber of the Notitia has written the one in
mistake for the other. Within the precincts of Tynemouth Castle, in the
year 1783, an altar was found, which formed part of the foundation of an
ancient church. It is now in the possession of the Society of
Antiquaries of London. The adjoining wood-cut accurately delineates it.
The inscription may be read as follows:

                        I[OVI] O[PTIMO] M[AXIMO]
                             AEL[IVS] RVFVS
                        PRAEF[ECTVS] COH[ORTIS]
                               IIII LINGO

                   To Jupiter the best and greatest,
                              Ælius Rufus,
                       The Prefect of Cohort the
                          Fourth of the Lingo-

On the supposition, which is a natural one, that Tynemouth was a station
subsidiary to Wallsend, this altar gives satisfactory proof that the
first of the stations at the eastern extremity of the Wall is the
SEGEDUNUM of the Notitia. On some occasion, when the prefect who
commanded the estuary of the Tyne, was on a visit to this out-post, he
erected to Jupiter, whom he ignorantly worshipped, the altar which still


The etymology of the names of the stations is an interesting, but
intricate subject. The new occupants of a country usually adopt the
appellations bestowed by their predecessors upon its more prominent
features. Thus, though in England the ancient Briton, Roman, Saxon,
Norman, and modern English, have successively prevailed, many of our
most familiar rivers, as the Thames, the Isis, and the Avon, have borne,
as Whitaker shows, through each successive change, their present names.
The appellations of cities are much more variable, but some even of
these are indelible. Strange as a painted Briton of the first century
would feel himself in the streets of modern London, its _name_ would
fall on his ear as an accustomed sound.

The Romans were a minority in Britain; and, in their intercourse with
the natives, would be compelled to adopt the nomenclature of the people.
We may, therefore, expect to find that the names of the stations are
essentially British, though somewhat altered by the imperfect
pronunciation of the strangers, and by a ceaseless effort to recast the
words in the mould of their own tongue. The change most frequently
introduced consists in the addition of Latin terminations. The names
given by the aborigines of a country are usually descriptive of the
object to which they are attached: they are epithets changed into proper
names. Accordingly, we find that the names of the stations, so far as
they have been deciphered by the assistance of those modern
representatives of the ancient British tongue—the Gaelic and native
Irish—are descriptive of the locality.


SEGEDUNUM is an unfortunate example to begin with. There was a Segedunum
in Aquitania, the modern Rodez—a Segodunum in Northern Germany, the
modern Siegen. The camp at Wallsend may have received its name from some
resemblence to one of these. Still the question remains, What was the
common origin of the term? Wallis thinks it is derived from the Latin
_seges_, corn, and the Celtic _dunum_, a hill; but, excepting in extreme
cases, an etymology dependent upon two languages can scarcely be
admitted. A more consistent derivation is found in the Celtic _sech_,
(the root of the French _sec_) dry, and _dun_, a hill. The final
syllable is a Latin affix. The elevation of the spot, and its rapid
slope to the river, would render it comparatively free from


Whatever doubt may hang over the Roman name of this station, none
attaches to the modern—Wallsend

                                      ... Ab illo
              Dicitur, æternumque tenet per sæcula nomen.

The number of places along the course of the Wall which have derived
their names from this great work, is very striking, and proves the
importance that has been attached to it. Without examining a map, and
simply drawing upon the resources of my own memory and note-book, the
following examples occur: In Northumberland, we have Wallsend, Walker,
Wall-knoll in Newcastle, Benwell, Wallbottle, Heddon-on-the-Wall,
Welton, Wall-houses, Wall, Walwick, Shields-on-the-Wall, Wall-mill,
Walltown, Thirlwall, and Wall-end; in Cumberland, we have Walton,
Wallbours, Old-Wall, High Wallhead, Middle Wallhead, Low Wallhead,
Wallby, and Wallfoot.

The present village of Wallsend is about half a mile distant from the
station, a little to the north of the turnpike road. It is, however, of
modern erection. Brand says that ‘an old woman, still living, remembers
when the site of the present Wallsend was an empty field.’ The
traditional account of its erection is, that a plague having desolated
the original town, which stood upon the site of the camp, and was built
out of its ruins, the terrified inhabitants forsook the spot, and sought
shelter in the new locality.

                                                             _PLATE IV._


  _SECTION, after Warburton, of the Mountains at Bradley,
  shewing the relation, in the hill-district, between the Wall
  and the Vallum._

[Sidenote: WALLSEND.]

A person unaccustomed to examine the remains of Roman forts, will
probably be disappointed to find the ramparts of Wallsend so feebly
marked; but one who brings to the task a practised eye, will give a good
account of the land, and express his surprise that so much of the camp
is left. The station, it must be remembered, is situated on the edge of
a river the scene of an immense commerce, in the vicinity of a large
town, and in the centre of a great mining district.

[Sidenote: SEGEDUNUM.]

The station of SEGEDUNUM has occupied an area of three acres and a half.
The Wall, coming from the west, has struck the north cheek of its
western gateway, and there terminated. The walls of the station would be
a sufficient protection to the garrison against attack from the north or
other quarters, but to prevent the enemy getting within the barrier, by
passing between the station and the river, the eastern wall of the
station has been brought down to the river, and continued into it to
low-water mark.[56]


  Drawn & Lithographed   by John Storey

[Sidenote: WALLSEND.]

In tracing the outline of the station it will be well to begin at
Carville-hall, the 'Cousin’s-house,'[57] of Horsley. Between it and the
Gosforth ‘waggon-way,’ the north fosse of the Wall is very distinct, a
gravelled path, for some distance, occupies the site of the Wall.[58]
Behind the Methodist-chapel the ditch may still be traced, but after
that it disappears. The row of houses between the chapel and the station
is manifestly very close upon the line of the Wall. The old
engine-house, which Brand tells us was six yards north of the Wall,
still remains. The whole of the ramparts of the northern section of the
station are gone; the walls of the southern portion of it may, however,
be traced rising in the form of a grassy mound above the general level
of the soil. The continuation of the eastern wall of the station down
the bank to the river’s edge, may also be recognised, not only by the
gentle mound which it forms, but by the fragments of Roman mortar, Roman
tile, and coarse-grained sandstone, not proper to the district, which
may be picked up on it. This river-wall joins the Tyne at the spot where
a jetty has recently been formed. Numerous swellings in the ground to
the south, and to the east of the station, indicate the ruins of
suburban buildings. These seem to have been invariable concomitants of
stationary camps. Officers wishing to have more space than the fort
allowed, the families of the soldiers, the camp followers, and others,
who sought the protection of a fortified post, would occupy such
dwellings. The sunny exposure of the streets on the south of the camp,
would render them peculiarly acceptable to the Lingones who came from
that part of Gaul where the Meuse and Marne have their source.[59] The
fosse which protected the eastern rampart, is still distinctly visible,
and generally contains a little water. The accompanying lithographic
view is given chiefly with the intention of showing the extensive
command which the station had of the river below it; the south-east
angle of the rampart may be traced upon it, as well as the fosse beyond.
The altar, represented in the foreground, was found in the vicinity of
the station a few years ago, and is still preserved upon the spot, it is
without an inscription, but has a hole drilled through its centre, which
it had when found. An extensive natural valley protected the western
side of the camp, which some years ago was partially filled up, in order
to form the waggon-way. The house occupied by the late Mr. John Buddle,
the eminent colliery viewer, is just within the western wall of the
station, and that, formerly occupied by Mr. John Reay, is just within
the eastern rampart. The waggon-way leading from the Wallsend pit seems
to enter the station by its western portal, and to leave it by its
eastern, and thus exactly traverses the _via principalis_ of the camp.
The only trace of the northern division of the station that remains,
consists [Sidenote: SEGEDUNUM.]of the road which has apparently led from
SEGEDUNUM to the out-posts at Blake-chesters and Tyne-mouth. This
causeway extends from the station to the north of the Shields railway;
it is formed of a mass of rubble, about two feet deep, and is eleven
yards wide. It cannot be ploughed, and nothing that requires any depth
of earth will grow upon it.

Numerous proofs of Roman occupation have been discovered at various
times in the station and its vicinity. Brand says, ‘I found a fibula,
some Roman tegulæ, and coins, a ring, &c. Immense quantities of bones
and teeth of animals are continually turning up. Stones with
inscriptions were found, but the incurious masons built them up again in
the new works of the colliery.’ Dr. Lingard was told, that in digging a
cellar under the dining room of Mr. Buddle’s house, a deep well was
found. I have been informed by Mr. John Reay, that another was
discovered outside the station, at the spot shown on the plan of the
station, Plate IV. A structure, which was conceived to be a bath, was
struck upon about the same time, near the river’s brink; it was
immediately removed, but its site is marked on the plan. Many coins have
been found, but most of them in a very corroded state. A beautiful piece
of Samian ware was got in sinking the shaft of the colliery, which is
now in possession of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne;
it is figured in a subsequent Plate.


Leaving Wallsend, and proceeding westward, the Wall is chiefly to be
traced by the presence of its north fosse. This is very distinctly
marked nearly all the way to Byker. In front of Stote’s-houses, the
Beehouses of Horsley, it forms a pond, which is used for farm purposes.
Some traces of the foundation of the Wall may be seen, but they are
faint. Thirty years ago the Wall was standing, for a considerable
distance, three and four feet high, covered with brushwood of hazel,
oak, and alder. The tendency of the half-ruined Wall to give lodgement
to the roots of these plants, is very remarkable; wherever the Wall is
undisturbed they are found, and in regions where the hazel does not
occur elsewhere, as in the neighbourhood of Bowness, it is to be met
with abundantly upon the Wall.

A mound, a little more elevated than the neighbouring ground, near to
Stote’s-houses, points out the site of the first mile-castle west of
Wallsend. The tenant of the farm told me that he had got a great
quantity of stones from it. In Horsley’s time, there were ‘two distinct
tumuli remaining near the Bee-houses’; what I take to be the rudiments
of them may yet be traced; one of them is just behind the stack-yard of
the farm, the other, the least marked of the two, a little to the west
of it.

The road that is seen stretching in a straight line up the hill to Byker
indicates the direction of the Wall, and though the first, it is by no
means the most remarkable instance that we shall meet with, of the
unflinching and straightforward tendencies of this remarkable structure.
The Wall stood on the south side of the present road. The facing-stones
having already been removed, and it being desirable to have the rocky
remnant entirely cleared away, the ground was let to parties without
rent for a short term of years, on condition of their clearing it, and
bringing it into cultivation. It is on this account that the site of the
Wall and fosse, even yet, is portioned out in long narrow slips, which
are, for the most part, used as potato gardens.

From the top of Byker-hill, an interesting view is obtained of the Tyne
and the numerous hives of busy men which bestud its banks. This would be
an important post for the Roman soldier, who could easily see from it
the stations on either hand—SEGEDUNUM and PONS ÆLII—and all that was
going on between them.

Between Byker and Newcastle, all traces of the Wall are now nearly
destroyed. In 1725, it was, however, standing in a condition of imposing
grandeur, as appears from Stukeley’s ‘Prospect’ of it in the Iter
Boreale. He was induced to make this drawing because ‘the country being
entirely undermined’ by colliery excavations, it might ‘some time or
other sink, and so disorder the track of this stately work.’ He dreaded
an imaginary evil, and overlooked a real one.

The north fosse was, till recently, very distinct within the wall of
Heaton-park; it is now filled up; many of the stones in the park-wall,
are to all appearance, Roman. Before descending the hill, a portion of
it, boldly developed, may yet be seen at the end of a small row of
houses called Howard-street.


At the head of the bank overlooking the Ouse-burn stood a mile-castle,
as was usual in such situations, to guard the pass. Two stones which, I
am persuaded, formed part of the entrance gateway of this mile-tower,
now stand upon the stairs leading to the grand entrance of the keep of
the Castle of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. They measure two feet by one, and are
of the form usually employed in the portals of mile castles. One of them
bears a rude, and almost unintelligible, inscription. These stones were
found built up in a structure on the west bank of the Ouseburn, were
thence taken to Busy Cottage, afterwards removed to Heaton, and finally
presented to the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The Wall crossed the Ouse-burn very near the ancient bridge which is
about a hundred and fifty yards south of the railway viaduct. In
preparing the foundations of Mr. Beckinton’s steam-mill about the year
1800, the workmen came upon the Wall, and, with great good taste, built
into the opposite quay three of the largest stones they met with, in
order to mark its site; they may yet be seen at low water, and are
evidently mile-castle stones.


It is not possible to trace the Wall with minute accuracy through
Newcastle, a town which has been the seat of a large and active
population ever since the days of Roman occupation. In endeavouring to
follow its route, I shall mainly depend upon the investigations of Mr.
George Bouchier Richardson, who has for several years past made the
antiquities of ‘the Metropolis of the North’ his especial study, and
whose paper upon this subject, recently read before the Society of
Antiquaries of this town, will doubtless speedily appear in the
Archæologia Æliana.


Rising from the western bank of the Ouse-burn, it traversed the north
side of Stepney-bank, passed through the gardens at the Red Barns, along
the site of the present Melbourne-street, and, proceeding behind the
Keelmen’s Hospital, came to the Sallyport. This, which was one of the
gates of the town, is sometimes described as a Roman building, but is of
mediæval origin. Thence, the Wall went over the crest of the hill still
called the Wall-knoll, where the foundations of it were turned up about
the middle of the last century. It crossed Pandon-dean on the north side
of the locality called the Stock-bridge, and, in its western course,
ascended the steep hill, on the summit of which stands All Saints’
church. Brand tells us that the crypt of the old church had plainly been
built of stones plundered from the adjacent Wall. A well of Roman
masonry is said to have been discovered near the church when the
foundations of the new building were prepared. Crossing Pilgrim-street a
little above Silver-street, the course of the Wall is indicated by the
present narrow street called the Low bridge. Until a comparatively
recent period, the site of Dean-street formed the unenclosed bed of the
Lort-burn, and was spanned by an arch called the Low-bridge. At the
point where this mediæval viaduct stood, its Roman predecessor carried
the Wall, with its attendant military way, across the gully. The church
of St. Nicholas, according to Leland, whose statement is confirmed by
subsequent writers, ‘stondithe on the very Picts Waulle.’ The Wall,
leaving the church, crosses Collingwood-street in an oblique direction,
and passing by St. John’s church, the Vicarage-house, and the
Assembly-rooms, makes for the Town-wall somewhat to the north of the
site of the West-gate. There can be little doubt that in its exit from
the town, the Wall occupied the elevation on which Cumberland-row now

[Sidenote: PONS ÆLII.]

PONS ÆLII.—Having tracked the Wall in its passage through the modern
town, the site of the ancient station of PONS ÆLII next demands

Horsley is the only writer who has attempted to define its limits, and
he had but slender evidence to guide him. He takes, as his data, the
three following facts:—1. The course of the Wall westward, which he
conceives, and no doubt correctly, would form the northern boundary of
the station; 2. The direction of the Vallum, some portions of which
remained, in his day, just outside the West-gate; 3. 'A traditionary
account of the Wall having passed through St. George’s porch, near the
north-west corner of St. Nicholas’-church.' As this porch stands a
little to the south of the line of the great Wall, as laid down by him,
he conceives that this traditionary wall must have been the east wall of
the station, and draws it upon his plan accordingly.[60] The western
wall now only remained to be determined, and this point was easily
settled, by supposing the station to have been square. According to the
line assigned by him to the Vallum, six chains is the distance which
would intervene between it and the Wall; he therefore places the western
rampart of the station at the corresponding distance of six chains from
the eastern, and encloses altogether an area of little more than three

It may well be doubted whether the important station of PONS ÆLII would
be subjected to the ordinary rules of castrametation. I am strongly
disposed to think, that it would partake of the features of a commercial
as well as of a military capital, and that its walls would not only
embrace a wider range than ordinary camps, but would be allowed to adapt
themselves more freely to the nature of the ground.

The wants of the immense body of troops required to garrison the Wall,
and man its out-posts, would create a considerable amount of commerce.
The inhabitants of Italy, Gaul, and Spain, would be unwilling all at
once to forego the comforts and luxuries of their sunny climes, and to
be entirely cut off from intercourse with the land of their nativity.
The fragments of amphoræ, which are so abundantly met with on the line
of the Wall, shew that the soldiers sometimes gladdened their hearts
with the wine of their native hills; and the innumerable sherds of
Samian ware, which usually bestrew the camps of Roman occupation, prove
that a continual intercourse was kept up with the continent. To the sea,
as a means of communication between many of the stations of Roman
Britain, frequent recourse would be had.

The exports from this island to the continent were considerable. Camden
tells us, that every year not less than eight hundred vessels laden with
corn alone were sent out of it. Certain it is, that the imperial
government would expect an adequate return for the expenditure
occasioned by the troops in this country, and that the commodities of
the continent would not be transmitted to the occupants of the Wall from
motives of mere benevolence. Lead, which is now so abundant in the three
northern counties, would probably form one article of export, and corn
another. Those who have noticed the fertility of some portions of the
region watered by the Tyne, will be able to conceive how luxuriant were
the harvests which its alluvial soil produced when first turned up by
the plough. It is certain that coal has been wrought to some extent in
Roman times, and some of it may have been exported.

No place in the north of England was so well fitted as Newcastle to be
the emporium of the commerce of the North. Situated upon a noble river,
at about ten miles from its mouth, it combined the naval advantages of
the coast, with the security of an inland situation. The wealth arising
from the commerce of the port would increase its importance, and the
facility with which foreign news and foreign luxuries could be obtained,
would render it the frequent resort of those prefects and tribunes whose
usual posts were in bleaker and more inhospitable regions. The fact that
the river was at this part spanned by a bridge of many arches, is a
striking indication of the importance of the place even in the days of
the emperor Hadrian.

No account has come down to us of the state of Newcastle in the days of
Roman occupation, but if, after it had been deprived of the advantages
which the residence of the mural garrison conferred upon it, the
venerable Bede calls it 'an illustrious royal city'—'_vico regis
illustri_'—we must conclude that it was a place of considerable
importance. The natural advantages of the situation struck the eye of
Camden; ‘Now’, says he, ‘where the Wall and Tine almost meet together,
Newcastle sheweth itself gloriously the very eye of all the townes in
these parts.’

Under these circumstances, there seems to be no reason why the walls of
PONS ÆLII should form the usual military parallelogram any more than
Roman Rochester, or Pompeii, or Rome itself, much less that the station
should occupy an area of little more than three acres.

The contour of the ground on which the modern Newcastle stands, is
peculiar. It consists of three tongues of land, separated by natural
valleys permeated by rivulets. The westernmost of these presents the
boldest front to the river, and is that on which the Castle stands; the
Skinner-burn bounds it on the west, and the valley of the Lort-burn, the
present Dean-street, on the east. The contiguous tongue lies between the
Lort-burn and Pandon-dean; and that still further removed, has for its
eastern boundary the Ouse-burn. The same natural advantages which
recommended the heights of the most westerly of these strips of ground
to the Normans for the erection of their stronghold, would no doubt
previously induce the Romans to select it as their chief position. They
probably enclosed nearly the whole of it within their walls. Horsley,
indeed, places his camp in this division, but in the least advantageous
part of it, whether considered in a military or in a commercial point of
view. The Romans would surely not overlook the importance of the ravine
of Dean-street as a defence on the east, especially at a time when the
tide flowed up it as far as the Painter-heugh, and of the cliff that
descends from the Castle to the river on the south. The necessity of
defending the bridge, and commanding the Tyne would not be forgotten.
Taking all these things into account, we may fairly suppose the walls of
PONS ÆLII to have been thus defined:—The Wall, passing through the site
of St. Nicholas’-church, would, of course, be its northern boundary; a
line coming from the church, and adapting itself to the crest of the
hill that overhangs Dean-street, crossing the Head-of-the-Side and
stretching as far as the elevated angle on which the County-courts now
stand, will probably mark its eastern boundary; the southern rampart
would run from this angle along the edge of the cliff overhanging the
Close, as far as the site of the White-friar-tower, which stood at the
head of the present Hanover-street; the western wall may have run in the
line of the Town-wall as far as Neville-tower, and then have struck up
in a straight line to meet the great Wall. Westward of this boundary,
the ground slopes down to the Skinner-burn. If these lines are correctly
drawn, Roman Newcastle would contain upwards of sixteen acres.

Although the camp of PONS ÆLII occupied this tongue of land, there is no
reason to suppose that suburban buildings were not erected on the other
two, both of which are well protected by their natural situation. There
is good ground to believe that Pandon, which was formerly a separate
town from Newcastle, and is seated on the middle strip, was of Roman
origin. Villas and gardens probably extended as far as the Ouse-burn.

In order to render the preceding description intelligible to persons
unacquainted with the topography of Newcastle, a plan of the town (Plate
V.) and a lithographic view of PONS ÆLII are appended. In the plan of
the town, Horsley’s demarkation of the station, as well as the one here
proposed, is laid down. For the view of PONS ÆLII, the frontispiece, I
am indebted to the pencil of Mr. G. Bouchier Richardson; the contour of
the ground is very accurately delineated, and the probable outline of
the station marked; the details of the picture are of course filled up
according to the artist’s fancy—a fancy regulated by his antiquarian

                                                              _PLATE V._


  And^w. Reid s.c.


Roman antiquities, which, when they abound, are so serviceable in
defining the seat of Roman occupation, are unfortunately here rather
scanty and unimportant. This cannot be matter of surprise. In the middle
ages, Newcastle abounded in churches and monastic buildings. To the
erection of these and of the Castle, the Town-wall, and Gates, every
stone whether lettered, sculptured, or plain, that could easily be
obtained, would be appropriated.

[Sidenote: PONS ÆLII.]

The precincts of the Castle have afforded the most important discoveries
of this kind. The present County-courts occupy the site of a building
which used to be called the Half-moon-battery. This was probably the
position of the south-east angle of the station of PONS ÆLII, and some
of the lines of the octagonal face of the battery presented no doubt the
actual curve of the station. To a certain extent the Norman builders may
have converted to their own uses a portion of the labours of their
imperial predecessors; appearances seemed to shew that the Castle wall
between the Half-moon-battery and the Black-gate had rested upon a Roman
foundation. When the County-courts were built, some important
discoveries were made. Mr. Hodgson, who watched the progress of the
excavations, has thus described them:—

  In digging for the foundations for the Northumberland County
  Court-house, in 1810, a well was found finely cased with Roman
  masonry. It still remains below the centre part of the present
  court-house. It had originally been a spring, or sunk low down on the
  river bank, and its circular wall, raised within another strong wall
  in the form of a trapezium to the height of the area of the station,
  and the space between them traversed with strong connecting beams of
  oak both horizontally and perpendicularly, and then tightly packed up
  with pure blue clay. Some beams of this timber were taken up and
  formed into the judges’ seats, and chairs for the grand-jury room, now
  in use. Two of the perpendicular beams had very large stags’ horns at
  their lower end, apparently to assist in steadying them till clay
  sufficient was put around them to keep them upright. On the original
  slope of the bank next the outer wall, there was a thick layer of
  ferns, grasses, brambles, and twigs of birch and oak, closely matted
  together, and evidently showing that before these works were
  constructed, man had not tenanted the spot.[61] Here also were exposed
  large remains of the foundations of other very thick and strong walls,
  one of which rose into the eastern wall of the Old Moot-hall, which
  was of exactly the same breadth, bearing, and style of building, and
  doubtless of the same date as the Roman foundations of which it was a


  The whole site of the Court-house, for several feet above the original
  surface of the earth, was strewn with a chaos of Roman ruins. I was
  frequently on the spot while the excavations were carrying on, and saw
  dug up large quantities of Roman pottery, two bronze coins of
  Antoninus Pius, parts of the shaft of a Corinthian pillar, fluted, and
  of the finest workmanship; besides many millstones, and two altars,
  one bearing an illegible inscription, and the other quite plain. The
  altars were found near the north-east corner of the Court-house, and
  near them a small axe, and a concave stone, which bore marks of fire,
  was split, and had thin flakes of lead in its fissures. The broad
  foundation walls were firm and impenetrable as the hardest rock. On
  Aug. 11, 1812, when the foundations of the north portico were sinking,
  a Roman coin was found (of what Emperor I have no minute,) and the
  original surface of the ground was covered with a thick stratum of
  small wood, some parts of which were wattled together in the form of
  crates or the corfs of collieries, but in a decayed state, and cut as
  easily with the workmen’s spades, as the brushwood found in peat
  mosses does. As there was much horse or mules’ dung near them, and
  some mules’ shoes amongst it, I thought they had been fixed there as
  crates or racks to eat fodder out of.


Since that period, few important discoveries have been made. In cutting
the crest of the hill in front of the Castle for one of the piers of the
Railway viaduct, a small stone figure of Mercury, represented in the
adjoining wood-cut,[62] was found. It is preserved, among other
antiquities, in the Museum in the Castle.

Between the years 1840 and 1844, the White-friar-tower and the
contiguous portions of the Town-wall of Newcastle were removed. Two
Roman altars were discovered, which are now in the possession of the
Society of Antiquaries, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. One of them is destitute of
an inscription, and the other seems to bear the word SILVANO. Several
coins of the Roman and mediæval age were picked up in its immediate
vicinity. The Roman coins were of both the upper and the lower empire.

From the manner in which the pieces of the middle and ancient periods
were commingled, a thing of rare occurrence, it may be inferred that the
tower was formed out of Roman materials, and that the Roman coins were
re-imbedded without being noticed, whilst the workmen inadvertently
added Nuremberg tokens and other contemporary pieces to the numismatic
treasures of the spot.

But, perhaps, the structure which gave name to PONS ÆLII affords the
most interesting foot-prints of Roman occupation in Newcastle.


Horsley received sufficient evidence to convince him, that a Roman road
had gone from the south bank of the Tyne to Chester-le-street, and
thence to the south of England. A bridge was necessary to conduct the
road across the river. In 1771, a flood having carried away several of
the arches of the bridge which then existed, and materially damaged the
rest of the structure, it was found necessary to erect a new one. In
removing the old piers the distinguishing characteristics of Roman
masonry were observed; and the workmen were led to believe that the
arches of the mediæval structure had been placed upon the foundations
which Hadrian laid. Several piles of fine black oak, which had supported
the foundation, were drawn out of the bed of the river, and found to be
in a state of excellent preservation.[63]


The coins that were found imbedded in the piers give decided evidence of
the Roman origin of the structure. To some of these, in the possession
of George Rippon, esq., of Waterville, North Shields, I have had access;
they are here represented.



_Rev._—GERMANIA. The province personified as a female standing. In her
right she holds a lance; her left hand rests upon a German-shaped



figure, with helmet, standing, holding a lance in her left hand, and in
her right a patera, under which is an object that appears to be an


_Obv._—Same as the former; but CONSUL SECUNDUM.

_Rev._—Legend same as the former, but in the exergue JUSTITIA. A female
seated; in her right hand a patera, in her left a spear.


_Obv._—Same as the two former.

_Rev._—Same as in the former, but in the exergue. FEL PR (Felicitas
Populi Romani). A female seated; in her right hand a caduceus, in her
left a cornucopia.



_Rev._—PROVIDENTIA AUGUSTORUM. The figure of a female standing, with a
globe at her feet.

The coins of Hadrian are remarkably bold and sharp, and cannot have been
long in circulation before being deposited in the bed where sixteen
centuries of repose awaited them; that of Severus is a good deal
corroded. Besides these, other coins have been found. Brand had one of
Trajan, and he engraves a copper coin of Hadrian; he also had in his
possession one of Antoninus Pius. Pennant describes, amongst others, a
coin of Faustina the Elder, and one of Lucius Verus. Hodgson saw coins
of Gordian and Magnentius, all of which had been obtained from the same

The coins posterior to the time of Hadrian were probably deposited
during the repairs and alterations which the bridge received after its
original construction in A.D. 120.


It is probable that the ancient bridge had no stone arches, but was
provided with a horizontal road-way of timber. Pennant[64] who derived
his information from the workmen, says, that ‘the old piers seem
originally to have been formed without any springs for arches. This was
a manner of building used by the Romans; witness the bridge built over
the Danube by Trajan, at Severin, whose piers, I believe, still exist.’

The foundations of the piers of three Roman bridges in the region of the
Wall, still remain—one across the Tyne, at CORSTOPITUM, one across the
North Tyne, at CILURNUM, and another across the Reed-water, at
HABITANCUM; an examination of these has induced me to believe that they,
at least, had no arches. The piers are of a size and strength sufficient
to withstand the thrust of the waters without the aid of an arch; and in
one at least of these cases, the requisite spring of the arch would have
raised the road to an inconvenient height. An experienced mason who
examined carefully the ruins of the bridge at HABITANCUM told me that he
observed that all the stones which encumbered the spot were square, none
of them having the shape of stones used in building arches. It is
certain that in the mediæval period the Newcastle bridge had a road-way
of timber; for Matthew of Paris tells us that, A.D. 1248, it, and the
greater part of the town were destroyed by fire.


Brand, misled by the early numismatists, conceived that the bridge
across the Tyne had been honoured by a commemorative medal. He says—

  Two coins appear to have been struck upon the building of two bridges
  by this emperor; one is doubtless to be referred to that of Rome; may
  not the other have been intended to commemorate the work we are now
  considering? One of the bridges marked on these coins has seven, the
  other five arches. The Tiber being a very inconsiderable river, when
  compared with the Tyne, we must therefore claim that with seven
  arches—especially as we find a view of the Pons Ælius at Rome in
  Piranesi’s collection, without the modern ornaments, where it is
  represented as consisting of exactly five arches.[65]

Alas! for a theory so beautiful and so grateful to the feelings of
Newcastle antiquaries! Mr. Akerman, in his work on rare and inedited
Roman coins, has pronounced the relentless verdict—‘The medallion with
the _Pont Ælius_, quoted by the early numismatic writers, is a modern

It is perhaps too much to suppose that all the arches of the mediæval
bridge rested upon Roman foundations, but it is more than probable that
the piers of the original structure would be at least as numerous as
those of its successor. The mediæval bridge had twelve arches.


No altar or other inscribed stone has been found to confirm the opinion
that Newcastle was the ancient PONS ÆLII. Brand was ‘of opinion that the
inscriptions belonging to the station of PONS ÆLII are all built up in
the old keep of the Castle, and that a rich treasure of this kind will
some time or other be discovered, lurking in its almost impregnable
walls, by future antiquaries.’ May the antiquary never be born that
shall behold this treasure! Such evidence is, however, scarcely needed
to lead us to the ancient designation of the place. The fact that PONS
ÆLII occurs in the Notitia between SEGEDUNUM and CONDERCUM, and that
Newcastle lies between the modern representatives of these two stations,
Wallsend and Benwell, is strong presumption in favour of the theory, and
the fact that a Roman bridge here crossed the Tyne, renders it almost
indubitable. This structure took the name of the Bridge of Ælius, after
Hadrian,[66] who was of the Ælian family, and the bridge gave name to
the station. The Notitia informs us that PONS ÆLII was governed by the
tribune of the cohort of the Cornovii, ‘a people,’ says Hodgson, ‘whose
name is unnoticed by all the ancient geographers I have access to.’


Before leaving the station of PONS ÆLII, a reference to the mediæval
structure—the Norman keep—which gives the town its modern name, may be
allowed. It is the most perfect specimen of Norman castrametation in the
kingdom; and a careful examination of its structure will yield a more
correct view of the mode of warfare adopted at the time of its erection,
and of the mournful condition of society then existing, than the fullest
verbal description could give. Within a recent period its passages have
been cleared and its portals opened, so as to afford the antiquary an
opportunity of examining it thoroughly. The Corporation of Newcastle,
whose property it is, have, in this respect, set an example which might
with advantage be followed by the national government. To the student of
the Wall, however, the collection of Roman antiquities which the castle
contains, will be the object of greatest interest. In the number and
importance of its altars and inscribed stones, it excels every other
museum in Britain. As the Castle contains so many of the spoils of the
Wall, it is much to be wished that it could be made the depository of
all that have been discovered on the line. Numerous individual objects
of interest are scattered over the country, and he who would examine
them all must travel several hundred miles, and propitiate the favour of
many private gentlemen, as well as public bodies. Documents illustrative
of the history of a country may be regarded as the property of the
country, so far at least, as to be made easily accessible to all. PONS
ÆLII is the fitting place to deposit those antiquities of the Wall which
cannot be carefully preserved on the spot where the Romans originally
placed them.

[Sidenote: ROAD TO BENWELL.]

The reader will probably now be glad to disentangle himself from the
intricacies of PONS ÆLII, and to pursue with rapid steps the course of
the Wall westward.

Between Newcastle and Benwell-hill, the traces of the works are faint
but interesting. The turnpike road runs upon the bed of the prostrate
Wall, so that, except occasionally in a neighbouring building, not one
stone of it is to be seen; its constant companion, the north fosse, may,
however, be recognized in a kind of depression or slack, which runs
nearly all the way parallel with the road on the traveller’s right hand.
On his left, he will sometimes be able to discern with tolerable
certainty the course of the Vallum. A small, but well defined portion of
it, is met with immediately after leaving the town, behind a row of
houses, appropriately termed Adrianople. Though the stone wall has
perished, this humble earth-work has survived the accidents of seventeen
eventful centuries! Its days, however, are now numbered; a contiguous
quarry is making rapid encroachments upon it.

[Sidenote: CONDERCUM.]

CONDERCUM.—About two miles from Newcastle, and near the modern village
of Benwell, stood the third station of the line, CONDERCUM.

The present turnpike road runs through it, occupying, in all
probability, very nearly the site of its ancient _via principalis_. So
feeble, however, are the traces of it which remain, that the wayfarer
who does not scrutinize the spot very narrowly, will pass on his journey
without knowing that he is treading ground once jealously guarded by
imperial power—the scene, for centuries, of a crowded city’s joys and

The situation of the camp is good; without being much exposed, it
commands an extensive prospect in every direction. Northwards, looking
over the grounds of Fenham, the Simonside hills appear in the distance,
and still more remote, is the lofty range of Cheviot. To the south is
the vale of Ravensworth, which is exceeded by the vale of Clwyd only in
magnitude, not in beauty, and to the south-west, the lordly Tyne threads
its way through the richest of landscapes.

The sunny slope, south of the station, was favourable for the erection
of the suburban buildings of the occupants of the camp, the foundations
of several having been discovered.

In Horsley’s days, the ramparts were large and distinct; now, their
surface is chiefly marked by a general elevation, occasioned probably by
the accumulated ruins of the ancient fort. It contains in all a space of
nearly five acres. Gordon conceived that the Wall was continued right
through the station. This would have divided it into two distinct parts.
As Horsley and Brand prove, the Wall came up to its eastern and western
ramparts, but did not pass through it. The northern wall of the station
itself was a sufficient defence in that quarter. About a third of the
station was to the north of the line of the Wall, the remaining
two-thirds were within it. The Vallum, Horsley tells us, fell in with
the southern rampart.

The portion north of the turnpike road is at present under tillage. In
Brand’s days it was covered with a plantation. The man who first
ploughed it told me that in doing so, his horse, on one occasion, sank
up to its middle in traversing some chambers that had been insecurely
covered. The quantity of Roman pottery which is found in this portion of
the camp is remarkable. Fragments may be seen at every step. The
peculiar character of the Roman earthenware, especially of the
coral-coloured kind, denominated Samian, renders this an interesting
evidence of Roman occupation.

The larger portion of the station, that to the south of the road, is
enclosed within the walls of Benwell-park. The inequalities of its
grassy surface indicate the lines of its streets, and the position of
some of its principal buildings. Near its centre is a large mound, which
would probably reward examination. The southern rampart, with its fosse,
is very distinct.

[Sidenote: BENWELL.]

Two hypocausts have been discovered in connexion with this station; one
within its walls, close to the south side of the road, and between forty
and fifty yards from the eastern rampart, the other without them, and
about three hundred yards to the south-west. Of the latter building a
plan is given by Brand. It contained eight or nine apartments, five of
which had floors supported upon pillars. The floors consisted of ‘flags
covered with a composition of various hard ingredients, about eighteen
inches thick, such as small pieces of brick and blue and red pots, mixed
up with run lime.’ The pillars were all of stone, and were so arranged
as to allow hot air to circulate beneath the apartments. The idea
generally entertained of these arrangements is, that they were intended
for hot baths and sudatories. In pursuance of this opinion, Mr. Shafto,
who discovered this hypocaust, says: ‘Here were found many square bricks
with holes in the middle, which were probably joined together by way of
pipes, to conduct the water from the top of the hill, where there was
also the appearance of other baths, and where, probably, springs had
been, but since drained by the colliery.’ However much the Romans in
their own luxurious city may have been addicted to the indulgence of the
hot-bath and the sweating-room, it may well be doubted, whether, in this
cold climate, they would have any great desire for it, or if they had,
whether the dread realities of war would allow them to make, on an
enemy’s frontier, erections so extensive as this has been, for such a
purpose. Next to food, warmth would be their most urgent demand, and a
more effectual mode of maintaining a uniform temperature in their
dwellings could not be devised than that which the hypocaust supplied.


Brand tells us that great conduits or sewers, composed of large wrought
stones, were discovered in the north part of the station at the depth of
about a yard and a half.

Several inscribed slabs and small altars have been found in the station.
The most important one of these, which is preserved in the parsonage at
Ryton, is here represented. By comparing it with the Notitia, we learn
the ancient name of the station, and the locality of its original

                        MATRIBVS CAMPEST[RIBVS]
                    ET GENIO ALÆ PRI[MÆ] HISPANORVM
                         ASTVRVM [OB VIRTVTEM]
                      [APPELLATÆ] GORDIANÆ TITVS]

                       To the Campestral Mothers,
             and to the Genius of the first wing of Spanish
                  Astures, on account of their valour,
                         styled Gordiana, Titus
         Agrippa, their prefect, this temple, from the ground,

The Notitia records that the præfect ‘_alæ primæ Astorum_’ was stationed
at CONDERCUM. This slab, reads Ast_u_rum, not Ast_o_rum. At two other
stations the same people resided; at CILURNUM, the Notitia places the
præfect ‘_alæ secundæ Astorum_,’ and at Æsica, the tribune ‘_cohortis
primæ Astorum_.’ At both these forts, as well as in the case immediately
before us, inscriptions have been found which are written Ast_u_rum; the
probability, therefore, is, that a clerical error has crept into the
Notitia, and that it was the Astures, not the Asti (a people of
Liguria), who garrisoned these posts. The Astures were a people from the
eastern part of the modern Asturias, in Spain. 'Under the empire, the
term _ala_ was applied to regiments of horse, raised, it would seem,
with very few exceptions, in the provinces.'[67] This fractured slab,
therefore, furnishes us with the information that the camp at Benwell
was anciently named CONDERCUM, and that it was garrisoned by a Spanish
cavalry regiment. It supplies other facts. This regiment was styled,
probably on account of some illustrious achievement, Gordiana. The
emperor Gordian, from whom this title is derived, began his reign in the
year 238. We have thus a proof of the continued occupation of the camp
until a date subsequent to this period. The event recorded by the
inscription is to the same effect. A temple which had been erected,
probably at the first formation of the station, had through time or the
chances of war, become so entirely dilapidated, as to require
rebuilding, and Titus Agrippa accomplished the work. The Romans,
although they had at this time been long in the occupation of the
isthmus, had then no thoughts of relinquishing it. The woodland deities,
to whom the temple was dedicated, will require separate discussion
afterwards. [Illustration: ‘altar] To the same occasion will be referred
a remarkable altar inscribed to the three Lamiæ, which was discovered at
this station. Two altars[68] of less importance, which were found here,
may at once be disposed of. They are dedicated to one of the favourite
deities of Rome—Mars. The focus, or place for burning the offering, is
deep and well marked in each of them. They are small domestic altars,
before which the soldier would perform his private devotions. As such,
they give us a little insight into the heart and feelings of the

                                 DEO M
                                 ARTI V

                               To the god
                          The Conqueror _and_
                        In performance of a vow.

Along with this altar, as Brand tells us, were found two stones
resembling pine-apples. This is by no means an unusual ornament of the
works along the line. The pine-apple ornament is frequently introduced
in the stained-glass works of the middle ages. [Illustration: Altar to
Mars] As the fruit to which it bears a resemblance could not be known in
Europe until after the discovery of America, the origin of the figure is
an interesting speculation. I am disposed to think it is of Mithraic
origin, and that the prototype of it was a mass of flame proceeding from
the torch usually represented in the statues of that deity. The other
altar, here given, is inscribed—


                               To the god
                          anius _erected this_
                        In performance of a vow.

Besides these and some other inscribed stones, many coins have been
found here; amongst them, Brand mentions denarii of Trajan, Hadrian,
Faustina senior, and Domitian; brass coins of Valentinian, Gratianus,
Diocletian, Faustina, and Maxentius, with many others not legible.
Obscene figures are frequently found in Roman stations. They were worn
by females as a religious charm. Benwell has furnished one such example
of a very remarkable kind. Before leaving the station, the inquiring
traveller will do well to examine the stones of the park-wall. He will
soon detect many of Roman mould, whose faces have been scarred by the
blasts of many centuries. The larger ones have been derived from the
Wall—the smaller, from the curtain wall of the station, or the dwellings
erected within it.

[Sidenote: CONDERCUM.]

The pleasant village of Benwell lies a little to the south-west of the
station. ‘The old tower of Benwell-hall,’ says Bourne, 'was the place
where the prior of Tynemouth resided some part of the summer, and the
chapel, which Mr. Shaftoe opens and supplies for the good of the people
of his village, was the prior’s domestic chapel.' Who that visits the
spot will say that the prior who made the selection was not a man of
taste? Benwell, as Horsley remarks, is not improbably thought to have
its name from the northern word _ben_, (Saxon _binnan_) signifying
within, and _well_ for wall, as being seated within, or on the south
side of the Wall.[69] Whitaker derives the Roman name of the station,
CONDERCUM, from the Celtic _Cond ar gui_, the height upon the water.[70]
The river being near, the description is apposite.

Leaving CONDERCUM, we again pursue our journey westward. The road for
several miles running upon the base of the Wall, the facing stones may
not unfrequently be seen for some distance together, protruding through
the ‘metal.’ This used to be more the case formerly than at present, for
since the diversion of the traffic from the road to the rail, motives of
economy have induced the road surveyors to quarry, in some places, the
last remnants of this great work of antiquity, for materials with which
to repair the highway. The north fosse, as we pursue our journey,
becomes more distinct on the right of the road.


Descending Benwell-hill, the village of East Denton is reached. Here we
meet for the first time with a fragment of the Wall. The accompanying
wood-cut exhibits its present state. William Hutton describes the
interesting relic with becoming reverence.

[Illustration: The Wall at East Denton]

  At Denton Dean, situated at the bottom of Benwell-hill, the great road
  veers a few yards to the right, that is into Severus’ ditch, and gives
  us for the first time a sight of that most venerable piece of
  antiquity, THE WALL, which is six yards south of the road, and twenty
  short of the brook I am going to pass. The fragment is thirty-six feet
  long, has three courses of facing stones on one side, and four on the
  other, and is exactly nine feet thick. An apple tree grows on the top.

It has lost a course of facing-stones since Hutton saw it, and the apple
tree is but the shadow of what it was.

The turnpike road, which usually runs upon the site of the Wall,
uniformly swerves to the right when passing a village. The truth is,
nearly every house and hamlet in the district has sprung out of the
Wall. In many instances a mile-castle, slightly added to, has formed a
mediæval dwelling of some strength. The nucleus thus provided, became,
in the course of time, clustered round with contiguous habitations, so
that when, after the last season of strife with which the borders were
visited, the road came to be constructed, motives of economy required
that these spots of increased value should be avoided.

Beyond the burn, the ground again rises, and the Wall, stretching
onwards in a line with the road, forms a distinct, but turf-covered
mound. At the distance of a field to the south of it, the Vallum is seen
in greater distinctness than before. Both of the aggers and the
intervening fosse may be clearly made out. Some young ash-trees grow in
the ditch.

[Sidenote: DENTON HALL.]

Advancing a little further, we have Denton-hall, formerly the seat of
the literary Mrs. Montague, on the right; attracted by her influence,
many of the great spirits of the age were occasionally found to be
assembled within its walls. Very nearly opposite the hall, a larger mass
of ruin than usual betokens the site of a mile-castle.

Ascending the hill from West Denton, the fosse of the Murus is very
distinctly seen. The road is elevated two or three feet above the
natural level of the ground, the Wall, probably some courses high,
forming its nucleus.

On the left hand, the lines of the Vallum are feebly indicated, but by
extending our glance some distance backwards and forwards, we can, with
tolerable certainty, distinguish the artificial mounds from the natural
heavings of the surface.

[Sidenote: CHAPEL-HOUSE.]

Passing the fourth mile-stone, we arrive at Chapel-houses. This name is
of sufficiently frequent occurrence along the line to suggest a
momentary inquiry into its origin. In the early ages of Christianity, a
mile-castle may have occasionally been the resort of the worshippers of
the true God; or in the ‘troublesome times’ of border warfare, when the
church not unfrequently shared in the general devastation, it may have
been set apart as a place for the confirmation of matrimonial vows, and
for the performance of religious rites.

From the crown of this hill we have one of the finest views which
Northumberland can afford. The Tyne, in all its glittering beauty,
stretches far before us. Its southern bank is crowned by the pretty
village of Ryton, its left is variegated with the once beautiful, but
now furnace-fuming, Wylam. An amphitheatre of hills shuts in the distant

Horsley describes some ruined ramparts, called the Castle-steads near
Chapel-houses, to the south of both Vallum and Wall. They were probably
temporary encampments and have now disappeared.


Before crossing Walbottle[72]-dean, the Vallum, which is very distinct,
and the Wall (_i. e._ the road) approach each other, apparently for
mutual support. There are no traces of a bridge across the ravine.

As we ascend the next hill, and pass Throckley,[73] we have, for the
most part, the fosse on the right hand, and the mounds of the Vallum on
the left, very boldly developed. By the time the traveller has advanced
thus far, he will have learnt the necessity of bearing in mind that he
is in a mining district. If he overlook this circumstance, he will be in
danger of mistaking the track of some old ‘waggon way’ for the terraced
lines of Roman cultivation, or an old ‘pit-heap’ for an indubitable
British barrow.


  Cha^s Richardson, Delt.   John Storey. Lith.

After passing Throckley, just where a gate on the left hand enters the
field from the road, a mound covered, in winter at least, with greener
herbage than the contiguous ground indicates the site of a mile-castle.
A little further on, a range of houses of peculiar appearance, called
the Frenchman’s-row, attracts the eye. It was the residence, after the
first French revolution, of a number of refugees. The dial which
ornaments the Row is of their fabrication. The building is now used as a


On the top of the little eminence, at which we arrive before reaching
Heddon-on-the-Wall, the north fosse is deeper and bolder than it has
hitherto appeared; it must be nearly in its original perfection. The
works of the Vallum, about fifty yards to the south, are also finely
developed. The ditch, in both cases, is cut through the free-stone rock.
Here, also, if the traveller will forsake the turnpike, for the road, as
usual, diverges to the right in order to avoid the village, he may see a
fragment of the Wall much longer and somewhat higher than the one at
Denton. Its north face is destroyed, but about five courses of the
southern face are perfect. The accompanying lithograph shews the present
state of the Barrier here. The Wall is in the foreground, while in the
distance (looking eastward) the section of the north fosse, and of the
works of the Vallum, is distinctly seen.

About a mile north of the village is a striking prominence called
Heddon-law. Horsley remarks—‘Not far from Heddon-on-the-Wall have been
some remarkable tumuli.’

The ditch of the Vallum cuts right through the village, its lowest dip
forming the village pond; it is rather remarkable that in such a
situation, it should not long ago have been obliterated.

Descending the hill on which Heddon-on-the-Wall stands, the lines of the
Barrier keep close together, and not without reason. The crag on the
south, now the scene of extensive quarrying operations, completely
commands them. Surely a post must have been maintained on this eminence
in the days of Roman occupation, though it had only been for the sake of
a look-out.

Passing the eighth mile-stone, where the Vallum is in good condition, we
approach the fourth great station of the Barrier. A road, crossing the
turnpike at right angles, is close to its east rampart.

[Sidenote: VINDOBALA.]

VINDOBALA.—The station now called Rutchester, stands on flat ground, but
commands a considerable prospect. The Notitia places here the tribune of
the first cohort of the Frixagi, a people [Sidenote: RUTCHESTER.] whose
country does not seem to be mentioned by any ancient geographer. The
inside dimensions of this station, from north to south, are 178 yards,
and from east to west, 135; it consequently contains nearly five acres.
The Wall started each way from the north side of its east and west
gates; so that a a greater portion of the station lay on the north than
on the south side of it, as is shewn in the plan of it, Plate II. At
present, the turnpike road runs between these portions; that on the
north has been all ploughed, and three of its sides sloped into the
ditch; its general outlines may, however, be distinguished; the southern
part is irregular in its surface, with heaps of ruins, still covered
with sward.[74] In Horsley’s time, the northern part was sufficiently
perfect to enable him to discern six turrets in it, 'one at each corner,
one at each side of the gate, and one between each corner, and those
adjoining to the gate.'[75] The Vallum seems to have joined the station
in a line with its southern rampart. The ditch on the western side is
still tolerably distinct. The suburbs have been to the south of the
station, but their site has recently been disturbed by the opening of an
extensive quarry which has supplied large quantities of the stone used
in carrying the railway over the Tyne, and through Newcastle.

On the brow of the hill, just west of the station, there is still to be
seen, hewn out of the solid rock, what Wallis calls a coffin. It has
more the appearance of a cistern. It is twelve feet long, four broad,
and two deep, and has a hole close to the bottom at one end. When
discovered, it had a partition of masonry across it, three feet from one
end, and contained many decayed bones, teeth and vertebræ, and an iron
implement resembling a three-footed candlestick. In the immediate
vicinity of this spot, three fine Roman altars were discovered in 1844;
they are now in the possession of Mr. James, of Otterburn, and are
described in the Archæologia Æliana, iv. 5.

[Sidenote: VINDOBALA.]

The etymology of the name of this station seems to be tolerably plain.
‘VINDOBALA,’ says Whitaker, ‘signifies merely the fort upon the heights.
_Bala_ remains, to the present period, the Welsh and Irish appellation
of a town.’ I have received a similar account of the word from those
acquainted with the Gaelic language. The station, however, though
possessing the advantage of a gentle elevation above the contiguous
ground, does not stand upon a lofty eminence.

No inscriptions have been found here mentioning the first cohort of the
Frixagi, which, according to the Notitia, was quartered in VINDOBALA.
This is of little consequence; the names of the contiguous stations both
east and west having been ascertained, the order of the stations in the
Notitia is sufficient evidence as to the identity of this with the
ancient VINDOBALA.

The farm-house at Rutchester partly consists of an ancient building,
possessing great strength of masonry. A gothic carving on the interior
wall of its principal apartment shews that it is not of Roman
construction. It was probably a mediæval stronghold, made out of the
ruins of the station. It contains a well, now boarded over, which may be
of Roman date.

Most of the stones of the farm buildings and adjacent fences are Roman,
and one or two fragments of Roman inscriptions built up in the stables,
besides some small altars preserved on the premises, give interest to
the place.


Mr. Hutton is usually very particular in giving a detail of the kind of
entertainment he met with at the various points of his journey. The
recital of his reception at Rutchester kindles into poetry:

              I saw old Sir at dinner sit,
              Who ne'er said, "Stranger, take a bit,"
              Yet might, although a poet said it,
              Have saved his beef, and raised his credit.

His own appearance, he tells us, was a little peculiar, and
archæological pursuits not being in vogue in that day, the farmer
probably had grave doubts as to the propriety of tempting the
enthusiastic old man to prolong his stay.

It has frequently been my lot to receive the kindly attentions of the
inhabitants of the mural region. Often have my eyes, bedimmed with
fatigue, been ‘enlightened’ by partaking of the barley cake of the
cottager, (excellent food for a thirsty climb) as well as the costlier
viands of the farm tenant, or proprietor. Never shall I forget visiting,
on one occasion, a frail tenement near Chesterholm. Its only inmate, an
old woman, in the spirit of regal hospitality, asked me to join with her
in partaking of her only luxury—her pipe. I recently observed with
regret, that the cottage was tenantless.


The inhabitants of that part of the district which is remote from towns,
do not affect the dress, or the speech, or the manners of polished
citizens. They like to know a person before they welcome him, and make
their approaches cautiously. But if slow in grasping the hand, they do
it heartily and sincerely. There is scarcely a latch in the wilder
regions of the country, that I would not freely lift in the assurance of
a smiling welcome. Often as I have groaned under the toils to which my
present undertaking has exposed me, I have reason to rejoice, that the
Barrier of the Lower Isthmus has been the means of making me acquainted
with many of the true-hearted and intelligent yeomen, both of my own
county, and of Cumberland, whom I should not otherwise have known.
Although their dialect may sound strangely to a southern ear, yet it is
English in its native purity and strength; a great authority, Mr.
Thorpe, having said, 'I believe the genuine Anglian dialect to be that
which is usually denominated the Northumbrian.'[76]

Proceeding, now, after this long digression, on our journey, we pass, on
the left hand side of the road, an inn generally called the Iron-sign.
Some of the buildings are entirely composed of Roman stones. In the
erection nearest the road are three centurial stones. One has on it COH
VIII, another has the word LVPI, probably to announce the fact, that the
portion of the Wall in which it was originally inserted had been built
by the troop under the command of the centurion Lupus; the third is

[Sidenote: HARLOW-HILL.]

Passing the ninth milestone, we stand upon the top of an eminence from
which there is a good view of Harlow-hill, and of the adjacent country.
The Wall here slightly changes its course for the purpose of ascending
the summit before it. The Vallum keeps company with the Wall for a short
distance, but eventually swerves to the south with the design of passing
along the base of the hill; it rejoins the Wall on the other side. This
is an arrangement which we should not have encountered had the Vallum
been intended for an independent barrier against a northern foe. The
north fosse is here very distinct, forming a deep groove on the left of
the road all the way to Harlow-hill.

Just before entering the village of Harlow-hill, some portions of the
heart of the Wall may be seen, and a careful scrutiny will enable us to
ascertain its course through the village, a part of its foundation, of
the full width (nine feet), yet remaining. As usual, in passing through
the village, the turnpike road leaves the Wall for a short distance.
There was a mile-castle at Harlow-hill, which, Horsley says, had a high
situation, and a large prospect; all traces of it are now gone. A field,
about half a mile north of Harlow-hill, bears the ominous name of
Grave-riggs; the traditionary account of its origin being, that after a
bloody battle in ‘the troublesome times,’ it became the resting-place of
slaughtered multitudes.

The village and ancient stronghold of Welton (a corruption no doubt of
Wall-town) is about half a mile to the south of the road. The fortlet is
entirely built of Roman stones. The adjoining mansion, at present
occupied by the farm tenant, bears the date of 1616. Its large hall,
with ample hearth and spacious bow-windows, is redolent of ancient
hospitality. In the memory of the villagers, the freaks of a benevolent
ghost, named Silky, which frequented the old tower, and the feats of
strength performed by William of Welton, still survive the weekly
intrusion of the newspaper.

[Sidenote: WALL-HOUSES.]

At Wall-houses, on the south side of the road, traces of a mile-castle
are obscurely visible; between this point and the fourteenth mile-stone
all the lines of the Barrier are developed in a degree that is quite
inspiriting. The north fosse is, for a considerable distance, planted
with trees, which will for some time save it from the envious plough.


  H. Burdon Richardson, Delt.   John Storey, Lith.


Immediately after passing the farm house of Carr-hill, an appearance of
great interest presents itself. The works of the Vallum are coming
boldly forward in company with the Wall, when suddenly, and at a decided
angle, they change their course, evidently to avoid mounting a small
barrow-like elevation, called Down-hill.[77] The Wall pursues its course
straightforward. The view, exhibited on the opposite page, taken from
the edge of the hill, looking eastward, shews this arrangement. The
road, with the ditch on its north side, is the representative of the
Wall. The Vallum and Wall again converge as they approach HUNNUM. These
appearances strongly corroborate the opinion that all the lines of the
Barrier are but parts of one great engineering scheme. If the Vallum had
been constructed as an independent defence against a northern foe, and
nearly a century before the Wall, we cannot conceive that an elevation,
which so entirely commands the Vallum, would have been left open to the
enemy; especially as it would have been just as easy to take the Vallum
along the north flank of the hill as along the south. Horsley, who
advocates the opinion that the north agger is Agricola’s Military Way,
that the southern aggers were the work of Hadrian, and that the Wall was
not erected till the time of Severus, is rather at a loss to account for
these appearances. He says:—

  Before we come to Halton-chesters, somewhat appears that is pretty
  remarkable. Hadrian’s Vallum running full upon a little hill, turns at
  once round about the skirt of it, leaving the hill on the north, and
  thereby, one would think, rendering the Vallum itself a weak defence
  at that part. The north agger goes close to the south side of this
  hill; so that they were also obliged to carry the Vallum round the
  hill in order to preserve the parallelism. If the north agger was the
  Old Military Way, and prior to the Vallum, there was nothing improper
  in carrying it on the south skirts of the hill; and then when the
  Vallum came afterwards to be built, (for a defence, or place of
  retreat) they were under a kind of necessity to form it after this

Since so able a man as Horsley can devise no better defence of his
theory, it may well be abandoned altogether. It cannot be conceived
that, under a rule so vigorous as Hadrian’s, the builders of the Barrier
would be allowed to give the enemy a material advantage, in order to
save themselves the trouble of reconstructing the Military Way for a
short space.

Down-hill bears marks of having been quarried at some distant period for
its limestone. A little to the south of the Vallum are some circular
lines, which an experienced observer tells me, are the remains of
‘sow-kilns.’ It would, perhaps, be rash to claim for them a primeval
date, though in their appearance there is nothing inconsistent with the


Halton Red-house is next passed on the right hand. It is entirely built
of stones taken from the neighbouring station; they have, however, been
fresh dressed. In the farm-yard is a rectangular stone trough, which was
found in the station, and which its owner describes as a ‘smiddy trow,’
and shews upon the edge the place which had been worn away by the
attrition of the blacksmith’s irons. It might, indeed, serve very well
for such a purpose, but troughs of this kind are of too frequent
occurrence in the buildings along the line to allow us to suppose that
this was their usual application. They are generally very rudely carved
both outside and in, and not unfrequently are formed of an irregular
unsquared block of stone. I think that they were used for domestic and
culinary purposes. There is a fragment of one lying in the hypocaust at
Chesters, the edge of which is worn down by the sharpening of knives
upon it.

We now approach the fifth station of the line,

[Sidenote: Hunnum.]

HUNNUM.—This ancient abode of Rome’s warriors, with its walls, streets,
temples, markets, and aqueducts, is nearly one unbroken sweep of
luxuriant vegetation. The traveller may readily pass by it, as Hutton
did, without discerning symptoms of Roman occupation. A small,
half-ruined hut stands within its area, a fitting emblem of the
surrounding desolation. It is almost needless to name a city, which has
no existence, but for convenience sake,[Sidenote: HALTON-CHESTERS.]
Horsley conferred upon it the style and title of Halton-chesters. The
castle of Halton is close by.

The form of the station is peculiar, as is shewn in the plan of it,
Plate II. The Wall joins the station at about one-third the distance
between its northern and southern extremity. The portion of the station
which is to the north of the Wall is not so broad as the part to the
south of it. The only reason which has been assigned for this is, that,
as Horsley observes, 'there is a descent or hollow ground joining to the
west side of this part, so that the work could not be carried on any
farther that way without much trouble and expense; though, it must be
owned, the Romans don't usually seem to have valued either the one or
the other'. It is remarkable that in adapting the station to the ground,
they have not given to the wall, at the north east corner, a slanting
direction, as would have been most convenient, but have, as usual,
adhered to the rectangular form.

The turnpike road, keeping the line of the Wall, crosses the station
from the site of the eastern to that of the western gateway. The section
north of the road was brought under cultivation about twenty years ago,
when immense quantities of stones were removed. It is now called the
‘Brunt-ha’penny field’ in consequence of the number of corroded copper
coins which were found in it. The portion south of the road has a gentle
slope and a fair exposure to the sun. It has not recently been ploughed,
and consequently exhibits, with considerable distinctness, the lines of
the outer entrenchments and ditches, as well as the contour of the
ruined buildings and streets of the interior. The suburbs have covered a
fine tract of pasture-ground to the south. The valley on the west side
of the station would materially strengthen the position in this quarter.

The excavations made in the northern section, a few years ago, revealed
several points of interest. The careful manner in which the stones, even
of the foundation, were squared and chiselled, struck beholders with
surprise. The thickness, of one part at least, of the west wall of the
station I have been assured, by a person who superintended the work, was
nine feet.[78] In the angle of the north-west portion of the station,
just outside the Wall, was a large heap, containing numerous fragments
of Roman pottery, the bones of animals, the horns of deer, and other
refuse matter—it must, in short, have been the dung-hill of the camp.
Even now, although the plough has passed repeatedly over it, its
position is shewn by the darkness of the soil. On the same occasion,
there was laid open an aqueduct of about three quarters of a mile in
length, which seems to have conducted water from a spring or burn in the
high ground north of the place where Stagshawbank fair is held. My
informant, who traced it for between two and three hundred yards, says,
that it was formed of stone, and was covered with flags.[79] In crossing
the valley to the west of the fort, it must have been supported on
pillars, or a mound. The most remarkable circumstance to be noticed
respecting this water-course is, that it was on the north, or the
enemy’s side of the Wall. It is scarcely probable that the Romans would
depend for that portion of their daily supply, which was required for
drinking and culinary purposes, on so precarious a source; but it is not
unlikely that the water so introduced was meant to fill the fosse to the
north of the station, and thus to give the additional security of a wet
ditch to a portion of the camp, which, though much exposed, possessed no
natural strength of situation.[80] Crossing the station diagonally from
below the eastern gateway to the north-west angle, a sewer or drain was
found, of considerable dimensions. My informant crept along it for about
one hundred yards. The bottom of it was filled with hardened mud,
imbedded in which, were found a lamp and many bone pins, such as those
with which the Romans fastened their woollen garments.

The most interesting discovery made on this occasion, however, was a
suite of apartments, which have been usually supposed to be ‘the Baths.’
The building was one hundred and thirty-two feet in length, and
contained not fewer than eleven rooms. The first of these was
forty-three feet long, and twenty wide, and was the place, it has been
conjectured, ‘where the bathers waited, and employed themselves in
walking and talking, till their turn came to bathe.’ The others beyond
are supposed to have been set apart for the purposes of undressing,
taking the cold, the tepid, and the hot-bath, sweating, anointing, and
robing. If the Roman prefects allowed the most important buildings of
their frontier camps to be devoted to the enjoyment of the bath in all
its elaborate details, they were more indulgent than some modern
generals would be. That one or two of the smaller rooms have been
devoted to ablution is not unlikely, this range of buildings having
contained two carefully constructed cisterns which may have been used as
baths. Several of the rooms had hanging floors, with flues beneath;
pipes of burnt clay, fixed to the walls by T-headed holdfasts,
communicated with the flues below, and conveyed the hot air up the sides
of the apartments. But no provision for heating large quantities of
water was discovered, such as we might have expected to find, if the
whole building had been used for bathing.

The whole of this interesting structure was removed as the process of
exhumation proceeded. Our only consolation is, that a minute and able
description of it has been left us by Mr. Hodgson.

[Illustration: The Works near Carr-hill]

Several inscribed and sculptured stones have been discovered here.
Camden, in 1600, found a monumental slab, erected to the memory of a
soldier of the Ala Sabiniana; the regiment which the Notitia represents
as being quartered at HUNNUM. A stone, bearing the inscription, LEG. II.
AVG. F., _Legio secunda Augusta fecit_, is at Alnwick castle, and
belongs, I think, to this station. Wallis says 'as some labourers were
turning up the foundations here, for the sake of the stones to mend the
road, they met with a centurial stone with the above inscription, within
a civic garland, the crest of the imperial eagle at each end, and that
it was taken into the custody of Sir Edward Blackett. The one here
shewn, though not a centurial stone, must be the one in question.[81] It
is one of the most elegantly carved stones that have been found upon the
line, and closely resembles the style of those erected by the same
legion in the Barrier of the Upper Isthmus. The ornament in the upper
margin, and at the sides, has probably formed the type of one that
prevailed in the Transition Norman and Early English styles.

Several busts of emperors and empresses, preserved about the house and
grounds of Matfen, shew the attention which the ancient inhabitants of
HUNNUM have paid to the decoration of the camp.

[Illustration: Slab—Fulgur Divom]

A little to the west of the station, not far from the gateway, was
recently found the slab which is here figured. Although the inscription
is not deeply cut, it is very legible, and doubtless means—The lightning
of the gods. When any spot was struck with lightning, it was immediately
deemed sacred, and venerated as such by the Romans, being surrounded by
a breastwork of masonry, similar to that put round the mouth of a well.
Conscious guilt makes cowards of the most dauntless warriors! Perhaps
some member of the Sabinian ala, hastening for shelter, and beseeching
meanwhile the protection of Jupiter Tonans, was here arrested on life’s
journey, and summoned to his great account.

Among the minor antiquities found at this station was a particularly
massive finger ring of pure gold, set with an artificial stone, on which
a full-length figure was engraved. It was stolen from lady Blackett, to
whom it belonged, together with the rest of her jewellery.

An intelligent observer informs me, that an ancient road of Roman
construction went direct north from HUNNUM. It, no doubt, soon joined
the eastern branch of the Watling-street which Horsley lays down, part
of whose course is represented in the map accompanying this volume.


Halton-castle is to the south of the station. It is entirely composed of
stones taken from the Roman Wall. In the farm-buildings attached to it,
are some Roman mouldings, and a weathered figure of primeval aspect.

No probable etymological account of the word HUNNUM has yet been
offered. If the word Halton can be supposed to have any affinity with
HUNNUM, besides the initial breathing, this is one of the few instances
in which there is any resemblance between the ancient and modern name of
the stations.

Leaving HUNNUM, we soon reach Stagshawbank-gate, where the ancient
Watling-street crosses the road at right-angles. This Roman Way was
probably first constructed by Agricola, as a means of keeping up a
communication with the garrisons in South Britain, while he was forcing
his way into Scotland. A fort formerly stood here to guard the passage
through the Wall; no trace of it now remains.


The earth-works between this point and the crown of the hill descending
to the North Tyne are remarkably perfect. The description which Hutton
gives of them happily holds good at the present moment—

  I now travel over a large common, still upon the Wall, with its trench
  nearly complete. But what was my surprise when I beheld, thirty yards
  on my left, the united works of Agricola and Hadrian, almost perfect!
  I climbed over a stone wall to examine the wonder; measured the whole
  in every direction; surveyed them with surprise, with delight; was
  fascinated, and unable to proceed; forgot I was upon a wild common, a
  stranger, and the evening approaching. I had the grandest works under
  my eye of the greatest men of the age in which they lived, and of the
  most eminent nation then existing; all of which had suffered but
  little during the long course of sixteen hundred years. Even hunger
  and fatigue were lost in the grandeur before me. If a man writes a
  book upon a turnpike road, he cannot be expected to move quick; but,
  lost in astonishment, I was not able to move at all.

The first time I visited the spot, this passage, through which there
runs so fine a vein of youthful enthusiasm, was fresh in my
recollection. The shades of evening were beginning to gather round me,
and the blackness of the furze which covered the ground, gave additional
solemnity to the scene. I looked for the venerable old man, as if
expecting still to find him fixed in his enthusiastic trance; but he was
not there. After all, he had moved on; and a few years more removed him
from this scene, to sleep in the church-yard under a humbler and less
durable mound than his favourite general and emperor had here raised!

The section given in page 52, exhibits the state of the works at this
place. The north fosse is very boldly developed between the sixteenth
and eighteenth milestone: the whole of its contents lie strewed on its
outer margin. Near the eighteenth milestone, on the left of the road, is
a mound, which I take to be the remains of a mile-castle. In one part
near here, the Wall, as seen in the road, measures ten feet wide, but it
speedily becomes narrower.

[Sidenote: ST. OSWALD’S CHAPEL.]

Where the ground begins to dip strongly to the North Tyne, St. Oswald’s
chapel stands. On the north side of the road, is a field called
Mould’s-close, in which a number of bones and implements of war have
from time to time been turned up, and which is supposed to be the site
of a battle. The tradition runs, that from the fight which was won here,
England dates her advancing greatness, and that, from the fatal results
of a conflict to be lost on the same ground, she will date her decline.
[Sidenote: BATTLE OF HEAVEN-FIELD.]Hodgson says, ‘Was this the site of
part of the battle of Heaven-field, which Bede says was fought just
north of the Roman Wall, and in memory of which the chapel of St. Oswald
was built?’ That it was, the narrative of the venerable historian will
probably shew—

  The place is shewn to this day, and held in much veneration, where
  Oswald (A.D. 635), being about to engage (with the ferocious British
  king Cadwalla), erected the sign of the holy cross, and on his knees
  prayed to God that he would assist his worshippers in their great
  distress. It is further reported, that the cross being made in haste,
  and the hole dug in which it was to be fixed, the king himself, full
  of faith, laid hold of it, and held it with both his hands, till it
  was set fast by throwing in the earth; and this done, raising his
  voice, he cried to his army, ‘Let us all kneel, and jointly beseech
  the true and living God Almighty, in his mercy, to defend us from the
  haughty and fierce enemy; for He knows that we have undertaken a just
  war for the safety of our nation.’ All did as he had commanded, and
  accordingly advancing towards the enemy with the first dawn of day,
  they obtained the victory, as their faith deserved. In that place of
  prayer very many miraculous cures are known to have been performed, as
  a token and memorial of the king’s faith; for even to this day, many
  are wont to cut off small chips of the wood of the holy cross, which
  being put into water, men or cattle drinking of, or sprinkled with
  that water, are immediately restored to health. The place in the
  English tongue is called Hefenfeld, or the Heavenly Field.... The same
  place is near the Wall with which the Romans formerly enclosed the
  island from sea to sea, to restrain the fury of the barbarous nations,
  as has been said before. Hither, also, the brothers of the church of
  Hagulstad (Hexham), which is not far from thence (it is in the valley
  directly below), repair yearly on the day before that on which king
  Oswald was afterwards slain, to watch there for the health of his
  soul, and having sung many psalms, to offer for him in the morning the
  sacrifice of the holy oblation. And since that good custom has spread,
  they have lately built and consecrated a church there, which has
  attached additional sanctity and honour to that place.[82]


  H. Burdon Richardson, Delt.   John Storey, Lith.

A little to the south of the road, at St. Oswald’s-hill-head, is
Fallowfield-fell, where the Written-rock, of which an engraving is
given, page 102, may yet be seen. The face of the rock occupied by the
inscription is four feet long; the letters are distinct.[83] Continuing
to descend the hill, we come to Plane-tree-field, where on the left of
the road, a conspicuous piece of the Wall remains. It is about
thirty-six yards long, and has, in some places, five courses of
facing-stones entire; the grout of the interior which rises still
higher, gives root to some fine old thorns. This sight may be rendered
more interesting by the antiquary’s carrying his eye forward, and
tracing the Wall in its onward course; in its modern representative, the
turnpike road, it is seen, (having crossed the North Tyne, and passed
the station of CILURNUM,) bounding up the opposite hill in its usual
unflinching manner, and making for the wastes and mountains which it is
speedily to traverse.


In the grounds of Brunton, a little below this, a small piece of the
Wall is to be seen in a state of very great perfection. It is seven feet
high, and presents nine courses of facing-stones entire. The mortar of
the five lower courses is good; the face of the south side is gone. The
ditch also is here well developed. The opposite lithograph gives an
accurate representation of what Hutton calls ‘this grand exhibition.’
The altar which, at present, stands as it is placed in the drawing,
formerly discharged the office of a gate-post at the entry of the yard
of St. Oswald’s chapel.


For some reason, which it is hard to divine, the turnpike road now
recedes from the Wall, and crosses the river at Chollerford, nearly
half-a-mile above the spot where the Roman bridge spanned it.

                                                             _PLATE VI._


  _Reid Lith._

                                                            _PLATE VII._

[Illustration: Miscellaneous Antiquities, Chesters, Cilurnum]

The remains of this bridge may yet be seen when the water is low, and
the surface smooth. There seem to have been three piers of considerable
size and solidity, set diagonally to the stream. The stones composing
them are large, regularly squared, and fastened with metallic
cramps.[84] Luis-holes, indicating the mode in which they have been
lowered into their bed, appear in several of them. The firmness with
which these foundation courses still retain the position assigned to
them by the soldiers of Hadrian is very remarkable; the rolling floods
of sixteen hundred winters seem to have spent their rage upon them
almost in vain. As the eastern side of the river is frequently
overflowed, the Vallum is here obliterated, but probably both works
approached the bridge in close companionship. On the western side,
appearances still bear out Horsley’s statement, that the 'Wall falls
upon the middle of the fort, and Hadrian’s Vallum, as usual, falls in
with the south side of it.'

A plan of CILURNUM, and adjoining works, as figured by Warburton, is
given in Plate II. Probably, few who examine it attentively will
question the justness of the conclusion to which he has arrived, that
the Wall, Vallum, stations, castles, and turrets, ‘by their mutual
relation to one another, must have been one entire, united defence, or

We are now arrived at the station called in the locality, Chesters, but
by Horsley named, for the sake of distinction, Walwick-chesters. An
attentive examination of it will well reward the antiquary.

[Sidenote: CILURNUM.]

CILURNUM.—This station has, as usual, the form of a parallelogram, the
corners being slightly rounded off. It contains an area of fully six
acres. In the latter part of the last century, when the mansion and
estate of Chesters came into the possession of the family of Clayton,
this area was covered with the ruins of buildings which had apparently
stood in strait, narrow streets, and although the surface of the station
has since been levelled and made smooth, in order to fit it for its use
as part of the park, yet its ramparts and fosse, the Wall and Vallum as
they approach and leave it, and the road leading to the river, may all
be distinctly discerned; even the ruined dwellings of the interior area,
as if dissatisfied with their lowly condition, struggle to rear
themselves into notice. A portion of the Wall, near the north-west
angle, has been freed from the encumbering soil; it is five feet thick,
and exhibits four courses of masonry in excellent preservation.

Hutchinson was struck with the linear character which the ruined streets
of this fort had in his time, and was reminded, by their appearance, of
the arrangements of the Polybian camp. This will be observed in a
greater or less degree in all the stations, and there cannot be a doubt
but that the dwellings were arranged in rows parallel to the four sides
of the stations, and hence, intersecting each other at right angles. It
was necessary that the Roman camp, whether of a temporary or permanent
character, should be nearly uniform in its plan. If the troops rested
but for a night, each man knew the part he had to fill in preparing the
fortification, and could set about it at once; in the event of a sudden
attack in the darkness of the night, each knew his position, though he
may never have rested upon the spot before.

Suburban buildings have occupied the space between the station and the
river, and ruins more extensive than usual are spread over the ground to
the south. There is no appearance of any habitations having been erected
to the north of the Wall. Whenever the surface of the contiguous ground
is broken, fragments of Samian ware and other marks of Roman occupation

[Sidenote: CHESTERS.]

Two remains of great interest are found within the station. One of these
is an underground vault near the middle. Its masonry is rough, and
somewhat peculiar; the sides incline slightly inwards, but the roof,
instead of being uniformly vaulted, is formed of three ribs arched in
the usual manner, and the intervals between them are in technical
language—‘stepped over,’ that is, the stones of each course are made to
project inwards a little, until, at length, one laid on the top
completes the junction. The woodcut, which is here introduced, together
with the following extract from Hodgson’s description of it, will give a
tolerably correct idea of this curious structure.

[Illustration: Vault at Cilurnum]

  This vault, when it was first found, was supposed to have been the
  Ærarium of the station. Between the joinings of the floor, which were
  of thin free-stone flags, were found several counterfeit denarii, both
  of copper and iron plated with silver. The approach to it was by four
  steps downwards, the lowest of which was a large centurial stone,
  which had borne an inscription, but nearly all of it had been
  purposely erased. On the outside of the threshold was found, in a
  sadly decayed state, its original door of wood, strongly sheathed with
  plates of iron, and the whole firmly rivetted together with large
  square nails. Within the door, which had opened inwards, the end wall
  was two feet thick, plastered and painted. Its internal area is ten
  feet by nine, and its height to the crown of the arch six feet four

[Illustration: Ground-plan, Hypocaust, CILURNUM.]

[Illustration: Hypocausts at Cilurnum]

Some buildings situated near to the spot where the eastern gateway must
be, and which have recently been freed from the earth and rubbish that
have long enveloped them, are objects of still greater interest. Their
general appearance, as seen from a slight elevation, is shewn in the
adjoining wood-cut, while, for a more minute knowledge of their size and
arrangements, reference may be made to the plan on the opposite page.
Eight apartments have already been exposed, and a little more research
would doubtless display others.


Descending a few steps (at L in the Plan), a street three feet wide at
one extremity, and four at the other, is entered. Another, leading from
it at right-angles, and which is paved with flag-stones, conducts to the
grand entrance (D) of what appears to be the principal section of the
building. The steps are very much worn down by the tread of feet, and
even some of the stones, which have evidently been put in the place of
others that have been too much abraded to be serviceable, exhibit
partial wear. This saloon must have been a place of general
concourse—can it have been the hall of justice, or the place where the
commander of the station transacted the business of the district under
his charge? The floor (E) is probably supported on pillars, and has been
warmed by flues beneath; but this cannot be ascertained without injuring
it. The upper covering is of flags, the fractured state of which induces
the belief, that the walls of the surrounding building have been
forcibly thrown down upon them. The northern enemies of Rome, knowing
the importance of these stations, would not be slow in involving them in
entire ruin, when permitted, by the withdrawal of the troops, to do so
without molestation. Passages diverge from this saloon, to the right and
left, into other apartments. In the room on the left was found, in good
preservation, a cistern or bath (C), lined with red cement. A breach had
been made in the street wall of this chamber (at B), and in the rubbish
which [Illustration: River-god] encumbered the gap, was found the statue
of a river-god, of which a correct sketch is here given. It is probably
intended to represent the genius of the neighbouring river—the North
Tyne. Although executed in coarse sand-stone, it is not without
considerable gracefulness of attitude and proportion. It is preserved in
the mansion at Chesters. Of the present state of the apartments beyond,
the wood-cut in the previous page, and the lithograph here introduced,
will give an accurate conception. The floors have been supported upon
pillars, some of them being of stone, others of square flat bricks. The
stone pillars are, for the most part, fragments of columns and balusters
which have been used in a prior structure.[86] The student of mediæval
architecture will probably recognise in some of them types of the Saxon
style. The dilapidated state of the floor of this apartment allows of an
easy examination of its mode of construction. Flags, about two inches
thick, rest upon the pillars; a layer of compost, five inches thick, and
formed of lime, sand, gravel, and burned clay or pounded tile, succeeds,
and above that, another covering of thin flag-stones.[87] This apartment
has been provided with a semicircular recess at its eastern extremity
(G), and, at the angle next the street (A), has been supported by a
buttress. A similar alcoved recess existed on the western side of one of
the principal rooms of the ‘baths’ at HUNNUM, and the same arrangement
may yet be observed in the corresponding building at Lanchester. All of
these buildings have been strengthened with buttresses, but it is only
in these and analogous cases, that the use of the buttress is admitted
among the erections of the Barrier; it never occurs in the great Wall or
the curtain-walls of the stations. In the circular recess[Sidenote: THE
HYPOCAUSTS.] of this apartment is an aperture (G), which probably has
served to regulate the current of air circulating in the hypocausts. The
furnace which warmed the suite of apartments was situated near the
south-east extremity of the building (at F); the pillars near the fire
having been much acted upon by the heat, the whole of this part of the
floor was reduced, on exposure to the frosts of winter, to the confused
heap represented in the drawing. The soot in the flues was found as
fresh as if it had been produced by fires lighted the day before.[88]
The walls of this apartment were coated with plaster, and coloured dark
red; exposure to the weather soon stripped them of this covering. An
arched passage curiously turned with Roman tile took the heated air from
the furnace through the party-wall (at X) into the chamber to the west
of it. The rooms to the westward of the intersecting street (HD), seem
to form an independent building, and have less of the aspect of a place
of public concourse than the other portions. They may have been the
private residence of the commander of the station. They, too, are heated
by hypocausts.


  H. Burdon Richardson, Delt.   John Storey, Lith.
  Printed by W. Monkhouse, York

[Sidenote: CILURNUM.]

In urging the conviction, that the hanging floors of these Roman
buildings were meant to produce a comfortable warmth, rather than to
generate steam, by having water sprinkled upon them, attention may be
drawn to the thickness of their substance. At present, the floor of the
principal apartment is nine inches thick, and when its upper surface was
overlaid, as it no doubt was, with a tasteful concrete or mosaic
pavement, it would be an inch or two more. It would require a very
powerful furnace to raise this mass of matter to a considerable
temperature. On the other hand, if the production of a genial and
uniform warmth were the object in view, no contrivance could be more
suitable. The heated air from a small furnace permeating the underground
flues and the walls of a suite of apartments, and not passing off until,
in its lengthened passage, it had given out the larger part of the
warmth it had derived, would, in the lapse of some hours, give to the
whole building a comfortable temperature, which it would not readily
lose. Any inattention to the furnace, either by causing it to burn too
fiercely or too feebly, would not be felt. The thickness of the floors
would prevent the air from being scorched, and producing that
disagreeable sensation which is experienced in rooms that are heated by
the stoves in common use. It is not improbable that we may return to
this method of warming our churches and public halls, even if we do not
adopt it in our private buildings.[89]


The door-ways of some of these apartments have been provided with double
doors, probably for more effectually maintaining the warmth of the room.

The masonry of those portions of the walls which are standing, is in an
excellent state of preservation. In the angle near the buttress (A), the
action of the trowel in giving the finishing touch to the pointing may
be perceived. The walls rest upon two strong basement courses, the angle
of the uppermost being bevelled off with a neat moulding.

Some of the quoins of the door-ways consist of very large stones; one is
six feet long, and is probably a ton in weight. This proves that it was
not from lack of mechanical means that the interior buildings and walls
of the stations were composed of small stones. More than one of the
thresholds have a groove very roughly cut in them, apparently to allow
of the egress of water. This has probably been done after the departure
of the Romans and the general demolition of the buildings, by some
houseless wanderers, who, having ‘camped’ in the ruin, were incommoded
by the lodgement of rain on the floor.

The hydraulic properties of the concrete used in the floors of Roman
hypocausts, has, I believe, escaped the notice of previous writers, and
is the only other point which need longer detain us in this interesting
building. My attention was drawn to this subject by my brother, Mr.
George Barclay Bruce, Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, in
the following communication:—

  In many places on the line of the Wall, the mortar has had mixed with
  it broken tiles or burned clay, to assist it in resisting the moisture
  of the atmosphere.

  The concrete at Chesters placed between the slabs of the bath-room,
  has a very large proportion of this burned clay, and would thus be
  better suited to resist the action of heat below and water above than
  purer lime.

  A portion of this concrete was taken, by way of experiment, and burned
  in a crucible, as though it had been a piece of limestone; it was then
  ground fine, and mixed with a proper quantity of water; after being
  allowed to dry for three or four hours, it was immersed in water,
  where it set in the same manner as common mortar does in the open air,
  clearly proving its hydraulic properties. The same experiment was
  tried with the ordinary mortar of the Wall, but without the same
  result, there not being a sufficiently large quantity of burned clay
  to enable it to stand so severe a test. In the case of the concrete,
  it did not set so readily as what is called Roman cement, but
  sufficiently so to prove that it is a strong hydraulic mortar, made by
  the mixture of burned clay with common lime.

[Sidenote: THE CEMETERY.]

Bidding farewell to these interesting structures, we may now bend our
steps a short way down the river, on a visit to the cypress-grove—the
burial ground of the station. This, which in Horsley’s days formed a
separate field called the Ox-close, is now included in the park of the
domain. Never was spot more appropriately chosen. The river here
descends with more than usual rapidity over its stony bed, and bending
at the same time to the left, exhibits to the eye the lengthened vista
of its well-wooded banks. No earthly music could better soothe the
chafed affections of the hopeless heathen mourner than the murmur of the
stream which is ceaselessly heard in this secluded nook. From this spot
have been procured several sepulchral slabs which will presently afford
us instruction; meantime, one is given on the next page whose lesson is
of a negative character. The blank memorial shews how vain are the
efforts which even affection makes to render buoyant on the wave of time
the memory of those departed. Our very monuments need memorials. But,
passing this, the character of the carving betokens a poor state of the
arts, and fixes its date in the lowest times of the empire: in this we
have a proof of the long-continued occupation of the station. The fate
of the stone has been singular. When Horsley saw it, the inscription was
legible; but having since been used as the door-stone of the cow-house
at Walwick Grange, the letters had, previous to its removal to
Alnwick-castle (its present resting place), been entirely obliterated.

[Illustration: Funereal Slab, Cilurnum]

Between the station and the cemetery is a well enclosed with Roman
masonry; it is now in a great measure filled up.

[Illustration: Funereal Slab of Horse Soldier, Cilurnum]


The station of CILURNUM, which is the sixth on the line of the Wall, was
garrisoned by the second wing of the Astures, (a regiment of Spanish
cavalry) commanded by a prefect. This fact has gradually developed
itself to the antiquary. Camden thought it probable. Horsley concurred
in the opinion, and, in the absence of better evidence, sagaciously
referred to the tombstone of which a drawing is here presented, in proof
of its having been occupied by a horse regiment. ‘That some horse,’ says
he, 'kept garrison here in the lower empire, seems to be probable from
the inscription and sculpture yet remaining at Walwick-grange.'[90] ‘The
letters D. M.,’ he remarks in another place, ‘prove this to be a
sepulchral monument, and the figure shews that the deceased belonged to
the horse, and therefore probably was one of the _Ala secunda Astorum_,
which in the lower empire kept garrison at CILURNUM, as the Notitia
informs us.’

[Illustration: Slab–Ala II. Asturum]

More decisive evidence has since been procured. The slab figured on page
61, is part of it. A still more satisfactory document of stone was
discovered at Chesters several years ago, where it is still preserved:
the wood-cut accurately portrays it.

 AUG[VSTO] . . . . . . . . . . . . _PONTIFICI MAXIMO_
 CAESAR[I] IMPER[ATORI] . . . . . . . . . . . _DUPLARES_

 To the emperor Marcus Aurelius
 Augustus . . . . . . . . . . . Pontifex Maximus,
 With tribunitian power, fourth time Consul, Father of his Country, of
    divine Antoninus the son,
 Of the deified Severus the grandson,
 To Cæsar our emperor . . . . . . . . the duplares[92]
 Of the second wing of Astures, this temple, through age dilapidated, re-
 stored by command of Marius Valerianus, Imperial Legate and Proprætor,
 Under the superintendence of Septimius Nilus, Prefect.
 Dedicated Oct. 30th, in the consulate of Gratus and Seleucus.

Hutton, who has done such good service to the Wall, under-rated the
value of inscriptions. ‘When the antiquary,’ says he, 'has laboured
through a parcel of miserable letters, what is he the wiser?'—Let this
fractured and defaced stone answer the question.[93] 1. This dedication
was made by soldiers of the second wing of the Astures;—we thus learn
the name of the people who garrisoned the fort, and by a reference to
the Notitia, ascertain with certainty that this was[Sidenote: CILURNUM.]
CILURNUM. 2. We acquire the fact, that a temple, which through age had
become dilapidated, was restored;—learning thereby, not only the
attention which the Romans paid to what they conceived to be religious
duties, but their long occupation of this spot. It has been already
observed, that some of the pillars of the hypocaust have been portions
of a prior building;—the ruin and inscription thus corroborate each
other. 3. The date of the dedication is given; the third of the calends
of November falls upon the thirtieth of October, and the year in which
Gratus and Seleucus were consuls corresponds to A.D. 221;—the data on
which antiquaries found their conclusions, are not always so vague as
some imagine. 4. Even the erasures are instructive. By a reference to
the date, we find that Heliogabalus was reigning at the time of the
dedication of the temple; we find that what remain of the names and
titles on the stone apply to him; he, consequently, is the emperor
referred to. The year following he was slain by his own soldiers, his
body dragged through the streets and cast into the Tiber. The soldiers
in Britain seem to have sympathized with their companions at Rome and to
have erased the name of the fallen emperor from the dedicatory slab.
Human nature is the same in every age. How often have we, in modern
times, seen a name cast out with loathing which yesterday received the
incense of a world’s flattery!

The above inscription gives us the station of the _Ala secunda Asturum_,
in the reign of Heliogabalus, A.D. 221. The Notitia Imperii gives us its
station in the reign of Theodosius the younger, ‘_ultra tempus Arcadii
et Honorii_,’ A.D. 430, and we find at both periods the same force in
the same station, which corresponds with the understood practice of the
Roman army with regard to the permanency of the quarters of its
auxiliary forces. With reference to the difference between the spelling
of the inscription and the Notitia, ‘Asturum’ and ‘Astorum,’ it may be
observed that as the Notitia Imperii was preserved for a thousand years
in manuscript before the art of printing came to its rescue, it is more
likely that the error should be in the book, than on the stone.

The ancient name of the station having been ascertained, the etymology
of it may be inquired into. Whitaker says it means a creek. An authority
acquainted with the Gaelic language suggests the following derivation;
_caol_, narrow, probably pronounced by the Romans _kil_, and _doir_,
water (in composition _dhoir_, the dh not sounded); so that _caol-oir_
is narrow stream; the _um_ is a usual Latin affix. Of course, this
branch of the Tyne is narrow in comparison with the united floods. The
word may have had an Italian origin; the Latin _celer_, swift, has some
resemblance to it, and the river, when swollen by floods, very speedily
discharges its superfluous water. Whatever be the origin of the word,
the names of the neighbouring places, Chollerton and Chollerford, have
had a similar derivation.


[Illustration: Statue of Cybele, Cilurnum]

The miscellaneous antiquities which have been found here, and are still
preserved upon the spot, are of a very interesting character. Chief
among them is a broken statue, which is here represented.

The fragment, consisting of a fine-grained sandstone, is six feet two
inches long. Statues of so large a size are of very rare occurrence in
Roman camps in Britain. It is generally supposed to have been meant for
Cybele, the mother of the gods. The gracefulness of the design, and the
excellence of the execution, show us that the state of the arts in Roman
Britain was not so low as is sometimes supposed. The arrangement of the
drapery, and the ornament placed upon its margins, are suggestive of the
mode in which these details were managed in the statues of the early
ecclesiastical architects. The ancient builders professedly followed the
Roman modes.

[Illustration: Group of Carved Stones, Cilurnum]

The fine Corinthian capital, which is here shewn, enables us to judge of
the beauty of some of the buildings which adorned the ancient CILURNUM.
In the drawing, it rests upon one of the foundation stones of the
bridge; on the right-hand side of the group are two centurial stones,

                          C[ENTVRIA] VAL[ERII]
                          [CENTVRIA] RVFI SABI

                  The century (or company) of Valerius
                       The century of Rufus Sabi-

On the top of these is a pipe of red earthenware.

                                                            _PLATE VIII_

[Illustration: Miscellaneous Antiquities, Cilurnum]

                                                              _PLATE IX_

[Illustration: Samian Ware]


Preserved in the collection here, is a tile of the usual Roman
fabrication, on which are impressed the foot-marks of a dog, seemingly
of the terrier species. The animal must have run over it while the clay
was in a soft state. Plate VIII. fig. 4.

In making the excavations at the hypocausts, many coins of silver and
brass were found. They extend from the reign of Hadrian to that of
Gratian; those of Constantine and his immediate successors prevail. A
massive silver signet ring, representing, on a cornelian stone, a cock
pecking at an an ear of corn, was found in one of the rooms. As is
uniformly the case, numerous fragments of the different kinds of pottery
used by the Romans were turned up; some of the fragments of vessels of
Samian ware are figured on Plate IX. A key, fig. 4. an iron implement
with springs on each side of it, fig. 1. and a spear head fig. 3. drawn
on Plate X., were found here. Some soles of sandals, similar in
character to those which will afterwards be described, several glass
beads of curious fabrication, and broken pieces of glass vessels, were
picked up. A piece of _cut_ glass procured here is shewn in Plate VII.
fig. 10. One of the most curious relics obtained from this treasury of
Roman effects was the tooth of a bear; it is of a large size, and is
pierced with two holes to enable its possessor to suspend it by a
string, and wear it as a trophy or a charm on his person. It is figured
of the full size in Plate VII. Bears, as well as wolves, prowled in the
forests of ancient Britain, and no doubt the formidable animal which
yielded this tusk, cost its captor a severe struggle.

Not the least interesting of the circumstances of a place of very early
occupation, are the traditions of the ‘ancients’ respecting it.
Notwithstanding their rudeness, some latent truth may generally be
educed from them; and they always manifest the modes of thought that
prevailed in former times. Sixty years ago the traditions of the Wall
might easily have been gathered, but now the old men have nearly
forgotten the tales with which their ‘fore-elders’ used to entertain
them on a winter’s evening. The products of the press have nearly
superseded this unlettered lore. A few fragments relative to CILURNUM
have, however, been supplied to me. A belief used to prevail, that there
existed a subterranean stable under the camp capable of containing five
hundred horse. It was, moreover, currently related, that beneath the
river a tunnel was formed, which led to the opposite side. There is a
pool in the vicinity of the station, on its western side, called the
Ingle-pool, and which, until partially filled up a few years ago, was
very deep; the peasantry believed, that it derived its supplies by an
underground canal from the North Tyne, at Nunwick-mill, between three
and four miles up the river.

                                                              _PLATE X._


  Roman Spears, etc.

In these traditions we may perhaps recognise the facts, that a regiment
of horse garrisoned the station; that the Romans carefully maintained
the means of intercourse with both sides of the river; and that, if in
this instance they did not, which is by no means certain, in others they
undoubtedly did bring water from great distances, either for the purpose
of sustenance, or to strengthen their position.

We must now take leave of CILURNUM. Whatever may be the views of the
reader, the visitor will do so with regret. As Hodgson well remarks,
‘The Astures, in exchanging the sunny valleys of Spain for the banks of
the tawny Tyne, might find the climate in their new situation worse, but
a lovelier spot than CILURNUM all the Asturias could not give them.’
During many days spent in the prosecution of my inquiries here—the
beauty of the landscape, the instructive nature of the ruins, and the
pleasant intercourse which I was privileged to enjoy with the hospitable
family at the hall, combined to make a deep impression upon my mind.

[Sidenote: CHESTERS.]

Again we bend our steps westward. Behind the garden wall at Chesters
stands a fragment of the Wall. The north fosse is filled with water.
Ascending the hill which leads to Walwick, the earth works are seen on
the left hand. When near the top of it, our out-door antiquary, while he
pauses for breath, will do well to look back, and contemplate the scene
he is leaving. The lines of the Barrier are seen boldly descending the
well-wooded and fertile banks on the east side of the river. Warden-hill
is to the south, and will attract attention by its elevation. Its summit
is seen still to bear marks of having been occupied by the aborigines of
Britain. Whilst the works of the Barrier were going on, they may have
maintained their position for a while, and, from behind their
entrenchments, scowled upon the intruders who were soon to drive them to
the remoter region of the Cheviots. After watering both sides[Sidenote:
WARDEN-FELL.] of the tongue of land of which Warden-fell consists, the
North and South Tyne meet, and their waters roll on in a united stream
to the Emporium of the North. We can follow it with the eye for some
distance, as it goes sparkling in the sunshine, spreading fertility and
beauty on either hand.

                                  ... O ye dales
              Of Tyne and ye most ancient woodlands; where
              Oft as the giant flood obliquely strides,
              And his banks open, and his lawns extend,
              Stops short the pleased traveller to view,
              Presiding o’er the scene, some rustic tower,
              Founded by Norman or by Saxon hands.

Nestled in the fairest part of the valley is the abbey church of Hexham;
closely inspected, it is found to be a chaste specimen of the most
simple and beautiful of our ecclesiastical styles—the early English,
and, when viewed from a distance, as in this case, its venerable towers
lend a quiet charm to the landscape.

How different the scene which the Romans beheld! In their day, and for
long afterwards, the painful cultivator of the soil knew not who should
reap the harvest; those only, therefore, who had power to protect
themselves would engage in the occupation. Now, the husbandman dreams
not of a foreign foe, or of troops of lawless marauders; steadily he
evokes the riches of the soil, and something like an Eden smiles!

A strip of the Wall, though in a disordered state, and covered with
brushwood, is in a field beyond Walwick; its fosse is finely developed.

[Sidenote: TOWER-TAY.]

Ascending the next hill, called Tower Tay, the earth-works are still
very conspicuous. About half way up are the ruins of a tower, erected
about a century ago, as an object in the landscape. It stands on the
Wall, and has been entirely formed out of its stones. At the summit, the
ditches of both Wall and Vallum are cut through the native rock, of
which the hill consists, and are in excellent order. The Wall stands
very near the edge of a scar, sufficiently elevated to have formed of
itself a defence; it is remarkable that the Romans should have thought
it necessary to draw a ditch on the north side of it at all.

Looking forward from the top of this hill, we see, for a considerable
distance, all the lines of the Barrier proceeding on their course;
descending one hill and ascending the opposite, called the
Limestone-bank, they keep perfectly parallel. It would have delighted
Horsley’s heart to notice that the present road runs upon the north
agger of the Vallum, maintaining, as he did, that this was the Military
Way of Agricola.

At a short distance, further in advance, the ruins of a mile-castle are
seen on the right. The whole of the facing-stones are gone, as is
usually the case, and the place where it stood is chiefly marked by the
vacuity occasioned by their removal. This castellum measures, inside,
fifty-four feet from east to west, and sixty-one from north to south; it
has been protected by a fosse. A long range of the Wall is next seen in
the Black-carts farm, in an encouraging state of preservation; it is
between five and six feet high, and shews, in some places, seven courses
of facing-stones.

[Sidenote: TEPPER-MOOR.]

On the summit of the next hill, many objects of great interest await us.
The view from it is most extensive. To the north, a vast sweep of
country meets the eye; a beautiful undulated valley occupies the
foreground, behind it the hills rise boldly, and the lofty Cheviots
bound the scene. Chipchase castle occupies a commanding position. The
modern mansion of Nunwick, embowered in wood, selects the lower ground.
Towards the west, the lofty crags traversed by the Wall come into view.

In the corner of a field adjoining the road, are the remains of another
mile-castle; it measures fifty-seven feet by fifty-four. Horsley says,
it was detached about a yard from the Wall, the reason of which was not
very obvious. A portion of the Roman Military Way may here be seen as it
curves towards the gateway of the castellum, and again recedes from it.
A good section of it is obtained at the margin of the places where its
stones have been removed to form the stone dikes of the field.


  H. Burdon Richardson, Del.   John Storey, Lith.

The fosse of the Wall and Vallum at this point deserve attentive
examination. In passing over the crown of the hill, they have been
excavated with enormous labour out of the basalt of which the summit
consists. The workmen, as if exhausted with the task of raising the
splintered fragments, have left them lying on the sides of the moats. A
mass on the outside of the north ditch, though now split by the action
of the frost into three pieces, has evidently formed one block, and
cannot weigh less than thirteen tons. It is not easy to conceive how
they managed to quarry so tough a rock without the aid of gunpowder, or
contrived to lift, with the machinery at their command, such huge
blocks. No luis-holes appear in them.

The lithograph presents a view of the giant works of the Vallum and
fosse at this point. It is quite evident that here, at least, the north
agger did not form the Military Way. There are several breaks and
irregularities in both the mounds; the works have probably been left by
the Romans in a rough, unfinished state.

Between this spot and the craggy summit on which Sewingshields
farm-house is perched, the ground is flat, and destitute of any decided
descent to the north. On this account, and for mutual defence, the lines
of the Barrier keep close together, so close, sometimes, as scarcely to
leave room for the passage of the Military Way between them.

[Sidenote: PROCOLITIA.]

PROCOLITIA is the seventh stationary camp on the line of the Wall. It
was garrisoned by the first Batavian cohort, which, with two others from
the same country, and the two Tungrian cohorts, was with Agricola in his
great battle with Galgacus in the Grampian Hills. That the ruined camp
at Carrawburgh was the adopted home of this cohort, is proved by the
altar engraved on page 62, and by [Illustration: Slab—Coh. I. Batavorum]
the fractured slab now introduced,[94] and which was found here in the
year 1838. On this mutilated stone, the words COH I BATAVORVM are quite
distinct, and are of themselves sufficient, not only to fix the site of
the ancient PROCOLITIA, but to corroborate the testimony of Tacitus, on
the presence of Batavians in Britain during the period of Roman
occupation. The line following may probably be read INST[ANT]E BVRRIO,
and bears the name of the prefect under whose superintendence the
building was erected, to which the slab referred. In the last line, the
word CO[RNELIANO may be perceived. In 237, when Maximinus was emperor,
Titius Perpetuus and Rusticus Cornelianus were consuls. That this is the
date of the inscription is rendered likely from a fragment of this
emperor’s name appearing in the beginning of it.

Whitaker gives, as the meaning of the word PROCOLITIA, the ‘fortress in
the woodlands.’ In the Gaelic tongue, _coille_ signifies a wood.

There is little in this station to detain us. The course of its ramparts
and moats can be easily traced, and the rich green sward of its area is
seen to cover numerous irregular heaps of ruins; every building,
however, is prostrate; scarcely one stone is left upon another. The Wall
forms the northern boundary of the station; its eastern and western
gateways are, as usual, opposite to each other, but strike the side
walls between the upper end and the middle. The position of the southern
gateway cannot be detected; in the present state of the ruins, there is
no appearance of one. The southern corners are rounded off, but the side
walls of the station, in joining the Murus on the north, seem to
preserve their rectilinear course. Outside the western wall are the
ruins of the suburbs. A natural valley, consisting at present of boggy
ground, gives strength to the fortification on this side. Horsley saw a
well in the slack, cased with Roman masonry; it is now removed.

No modern habitation is on the ground or in its immediate vicinity to
relieve the general desolation—

                               ... here, as in the wild,
             The day is silent, dreary as the night;
             None stirring save the herdsman and his herd,
                         ... or they that would explore,
             Discuss and learnedly.

[Sidenote: CARRAWBURGH.]

Passing onwards, we soon reach the farm-house of Carraw, formerly a
rural retreat of the priors of Hexham. On the crown of the next
elevation, the works are brought into close proximity, apparently for
the purpose of avoiding an extensive bog on the north, and of
maintaining possession of the point of the hill on the south. The
earth-works are very boldly developed, but are in a ragged state. The
contents of the north fosse are piled up high on its outer margin. The
fosse of the Vallum is cut through free-stone rock; its southern agger
is very elevated, and would present a bold and angry front to any
intruder from the south.


We must now, to adopt the language of Hutton, ‘quit the beautiful scenes
of cultivation, and enter upon the rude of nature, and the wreck of
antiquity.’ Four great mountain waves are before us, and seem to chase
each other to the north, on which side their crests rise almost
perpendicularly. To the highest of these, the second from the south, the
Wall directs its course. It is a ridge of basalt, which crosses the
island obliquely, from Cumberland to Holy Island. The Vallum here parts
company with the Wall, and takes the ‘tail’ of the hill on the ‘crag’ of
which the other runs. The accompanying drawing shews the nature of the
country before us.


  H. Burdon Richardson, Delt.   John Storey, Lith.
  Printed by W. Monkhouse, York

Before approaching Sewingshields[95] farm-house, which is on the line of
Wall, an experienced eye will detect the Roman Military Way. It runs at
first nearly parallel with the Wall, at about thirty-six paces from it,
but, in its subsequent course, recedes from the Barrier, or approaches
it, according to the position of the mile-castles, and the nature of the
ground. With but few interruptions, it may be traced by the appearance
of its herbage, by its slightly elevated, rounded form, and by the
occasional protrusion of the stones composing it, all the way from
Sewingshields to Thirlwall.

The north fosse, which we have had in view from the very commencement of
our journey, accompanies the Wall for a short distance up the hill, as
is seen in the lithograph, but when the ground becomes precipitous, it
forsakes it until the high grounds are passed, only to appear when the
Wall sinks into a gap or chasm between the crags.


A difficulty will here present itself to nearly every mind; why was the
Wall drawn along the cliffs at all? Horsley cut the knot instead of
untying it. ‘As such steep rocks,’ says he, ‘are a sufficient fence of
themselves, I am inclined to think the Wall has not in those parts had
either strength or thickness, equal to what it has had in other parts.’
Present appearances give us no reason to suppose that the Wall on the
crags was in any respect inferior to what it was in the low grounds. A
different method of accounting for the circumstance has been forced upon
my attention. It was my fortune to traverse the heights near
Sewingshields late in December last year, when the wind blew a violent
gale from the north, and the thermometer, even in the valley, was ten
degrees below the freezing point. In order to maintain the ordinary
temperature of the body, very active exertion was necessary, and to make
any progress on my way, I was constrained to get under the lee of the
hill. The conclusion was irresistible; if the Romans were to keep watch
and ward here during the winter, a Wall was necessary, even though only
for the sake of sheltering them from the blast. The habits of the enemy
demanded continual vigilance; for, as Tacitus tells us, before the time
of Agricola they usually repaired the losses they had sustained in
summer by the success of their winter expeditions. The loftier the
mountain peak, the more necessary, in this view of it, was the friendly
shelter of the Wall to the shivering soldiers of southern Europe.


The Wall in the neighbourhood of Sewingshields is not in good condition;
its site is marked by the rubble which encumbers it, but the
facing-stones are gone, having contributed to the erection of every
building in the vicinity, from the time of Honorius to the present day.
A considerable tract of it was removed lately. Thorough draining, the
life of agriculture, is death to the Wall.

The aspect of the country in the immediate vicinity of the heights of
Sewingshields is dreary enough, but the elevation enables the eye to
revel in the fertility and beauty of the distant landscape. Hexham is
distinctly discernible from the farm-house. On the flats to the north of
the crags, there formerly stood the border fortress, Sewingshields
castle.[96] It was at one time the property of the late Ralph Spearman,
esq., the Monkbarns of THE ANTIQUARY.


A situation so remote from the crowded haunts of men is favourable to
the preservation of legendary lore. It occurred to me that here, if
anywhere, I might ascertain the kind of ideas which the rude forefathers
of the mural region entertained respecting the Wall and its builders.
Although on the Antonine Wall all tradition of the Romans has been lost,
this has certainly not been the case here; the recollection of them is
still distinctly preserved, and some stories of them are told, which,
though in several respects resembling written history, are not derived
from this source. For the following scraps of traditional information, I
am chiefly indebted to the master of Grindon school, in the immediate
neighbourhood of Sewingshields, who says he has often heard them
repeated. Though he denominates them ‘absurd,’ the learned in mediæval
legends will probably think them worth preserving.

  The Romans are said to have been remarkably lazy, so much so, that in
  the hot weather of summer, having almost nothing to do, they lay
  basking in the sun, on the south side of the Wall, almost in a state
  of torpor. The Scots were in the habit of watching their opportunity,
  and, throwing hooks, with lines attached to them, over the Wall,
  caught the poor Romans by their clothes or flesh, and by this means,
  dragging them to the other side, made them prisoners.

  An old man in this neighbourhood told me, that he had often heard
  people say, that the Romans had remarkably broad feet, with still
  broader shoes, and that, when it rained, they lay on their backs, and
  holding up their feet in a perpendicular direction, protected, by this
  means, their persons from the weather.—This legend, under various
  modifications, seems to have been widely diffused in the middle ages.
  Sir John Maundevile, describing ‘Ethiope,’ says—‘In that contree, ben
  folk that han but o foot; and thei gon so fast, that it is marvaylle;
  and the foot is so large, that it schadewethe all the body azen the
  sonne, whan they wole lye and reste hem.’ Precisely similar to this is
  Pliny’s account—'Item hominum genus, qui Monoscelli vocarentur,
  singulis cruribus, miræ pernicitatis ad saltum: eosdemque Sciopodas
  vocari, quod in majori æstu, humi jacentes resupini, umbra se pedum

  It is the tradition of the country that all the stones of the Wall
  were handed from one man to another by a set of labourers stationed in
  a line from the quarry to the place where they were required. Many
  will tell you, 'I have heard my mother say, that the Wall was built in
  a single night, and that no one was observed to be engaged upon it,
  save an old woman with an apron full of stones.'—This, however, is a
  tradition of almost universal application.

  The people say that the Wall was hollow, or, as they express it, had a
  flue running the whole length of it, through which the sentinels
  communicated intelligence by a speaking trumpet.

  Some of the people of this neighbourhood tell me that the Britons,
  tired, at length, of Roman oppression, rose in a body, and drove the
  garrison, with considerable slaughter, from all their stations. The
  Romans, when making their way to the sea to look for ships to carry
  them home, were met by a seer, who told them that if they returned
  home they would all be drowned; and if they went back to their old
  stations they would all be slain. This prophecy disconcerted them
  greatly, and they were at their wits’ end; however, after long
  consultation, they resolved to escape both calamities by marching
  direct to Wales. This they did, and there the pure, unadulterated
  Roman breed is to be found to this day.—Can this story refer to the
  passage of the second legion, at an early period, to Caerleon?


We next pass on to some tales, which, though not connected with the
Wall, belong, as Hodgson remarks, to times nearer the Roman than these
degenerate days. They chiefly relate to king Arthur. Sir William Betham
observes that this monarch’s name is more celebrated in Scotland than in
Wales, which was the chief resort of the conquered Britons, and is
disposed to think, that this favourite hero of romance was not a
Romanized Briton, but an invading Pictish king. This idea would account
for the frequent reference to his name in the region of the Wall.

  Immemorial tradition has asserted, that king Arthur, his queen
  Guenever, his court of lords and ladies, and his hounds, were
  enchanted in some cave of the crags, or in a hall below the castle of
  Sewingshields, and were to continue entranced there till some one
  should first blow a bugle horn that lay on a table near the entrance
  of the hall, and then with ‘the sword of the stone’ cut a garter also
  placed there beside it. But none had ever heard where the entrance to
  this enchanted hall was, till the farmer at Sewingshields, about fifty
  years since, was sitting upon the ruins of the castle, and his clew
  fell, and ran downwards through a rush of briars and nettles, as he
  supposed, into a deep subterranean passage. Firm in the faith that the
  entrance into king Arthur’s hall was now discovered, he cleared the
  briary portal of its weeds and rubbish, and entering a vaulted
  passage, followed, in his darkling way, the thread of his clew. The
  floor was infested with toads and lizards; and the dark wings of bats,
  disturbed by his unhallowed intrusion, flitted fearfully around him.
  At length, his sinking courage was strengthened by a dim, distant
  light, which, as he advanced, grew gradually brighter, till, all at
  once, he entered a vast and vaulted hall, in the centre of which, a
  fire without fuel, from a broad crevice in the floor, blazed with a
  high and lambent flame, that shewed all the carved walls and fretted
  roof, and the monarch and his queen, reposing around in a theatre of
  thrones and costly couches. On the floor, beyond the fire, lay the
  faithful and deep-toned pack of thirty couple of hounds; and on a
  table before it, the spell-dissolving horn, sword, and garter. The
  shepherd reverently, but firmly, grasped the sword, and as he drew it
  leisurely from its rusty scabbard, the eyes of the monarch, and of his
  courtiers began to open, and they rose till they sat upright. He cut
  the garter; and as the sword was being slowly sheathed, the spell
  assumed its ancient power, and they all gradually sunk to rest; but
  not before the monarch had lifted up his eyes and hands, and

                 O woe betide that evil day
                 On which this witless wight was born,
                 Who drew the sword—the garter cut,
                 But never blew the bugle-horn.

  Terror brought on loss of memory, and the shepherd was unable to give
  any correct account of his adventure, or to find again the entrance to
  the enchanted hall.[98]

  To the north of Sewingshields, two strata of sandstone crop out to the
  day; the highest points of each ledge are called the King and
  Queen’s-crag, from the following legend. King Arthur, seated on the
  farthest rock, was talking with his queen, who, meanwhile, was engaged
  in arranging her ‘back hair.’ Some expression of the queen’s having
  offended his majesty, he seized a rock which lay near him, and, with
  an exertion of strength for which the Picts were proverbial, threw it
  at her, a distance of about a quarter of a mile! The queen, with great
  dexterity, caught it upon her comb, and thus warded off the blow; the
  stone fell between them, where it lies to this day, with the marks of
  the comb upon it, to attest the truth of the story. It probably weighs
  about twenty tons!

  A few miles to the north of Sewingshields stands an upright stone,
  which bears the name of Cumming’s cross. Cumming, a northern
  chieftain, having paid, one day, a visit to king Arthur at his castle
  near Sewingshields, was kindly received by the king, and was, as a
  token of lasting friendship, presented by him with a gold cup. The
  king’s sons coming in, shortly after Cumming had left the castle, and
  being informed of what their father had done, immediately set out in
  pursuit of him. They overtook him, and slew him at this place, which
  has borne the name of Cumming’s cross ever since.

  King Arthur’s chair used to be pointed out in this vicinity. It was a
  column of basalt, fifty feet high, slightly detached from the rest of
  the cliff. The top of it had something of the appearance of a seat. It
  was thrown down, several years ago, by a party of idle young men, who
  were at great pains to effect their foolish purpose.


We now return to our more immediate object, the examination of the Wall.

Soon after leaving Sewingshields, a narrow chasm in the rocks, slightly
aided by art, called the Catgate, admits of an awkward descent to the
plain below. Here, says Hutton, the Scots bored under the Wall, so as to
admit the body of a man. Whether the Romans or the Scots made this
passage, it is certain that the garrison on the Wall would sometimes
visit the country to the north, for the purposes of plunder and of
slaughter, and would require the means of egress.

The mile-castles may now all be recognised in due succession.

[Sidenote: BUSY GAP.]

The next point of interest is Busy-gap, a broad, basin-like recess in
the mountain ridge, about a mile from Sewingshields. The Wall here,
being more than usually exposed, is not only strengthened with the fosse
common in the low grounds, but has the additional protection of a
rampart, of triangular form, to the north of this. The wood-cut will
give some idea of the arrangement. A common stone dike occupies at
present the place of the Wall, the foundations of which, and, for the
most part, a portion of the grout of the interior, remain. At a little
elevation, on the western side of the valley, is a gate called the
King’s-wicket (Arthur’s again, probably), through which a drove-road
passes. The gate is well situated for defence, and may have been a Roman

[Illustration: Busy Gap]

Busy-gap was in the middle ages a place of much notoriety; it was the
pass frequented by the moss-troopers and reavers of the debateable


The incessant war which was waged between England and Scotland before
the union of the two kingdoms, rendered property exceedingly insecure,
and nurtured a race of men who had no expectation of holding their own,
unless they could repel force by force. It was the policy of the
governments of both countries, to maintain on the Borders a body of men
inured to feats of arms, whom, on any emergency, they might call to
their assistance. Habits long indulged are not easily laid aside. When
the policy of Elizabeth, and the accession of James to the throne of
England, allayed the national strife, the stern warriors of the Border
degenerated into sheep-stealers; and, instead of dying in the fray, or
yielding their necks _honourably_ to the headsman’s stroke, burdened by
the score the gallows-tree at Newcastle or Carlisle. The vales of North
Tyne and the Rede, which anciently abounded with warriors, became
infested with thieves. It is impossible to imagine the desolation and
misery occasioned by such a state of society. Landed property was of
little value. Precious life was idly sacrificed. Bernard Gilpin, the
‘apostle of the north,’ was esteemed a brave man because he annually
ventured as far as Rothbury to preach the gospel of peace to the lawless
people of the vale of Coquet. Camden and sir Robert Cotton, though
ardently desirous of examining the Wall, durst not venture in their
progress eastward beyond Carvoran. ‘From thence,’ Camden says, ‘the Wall
goeth forward more aslope by Iverton, Forsten, and Chester-in-the-Wall,
near to Busy-gap, a place infamous for thieving and robbing, where stood
some castles (chesters they called them), as I have heard, but I could
not with safety take the full survey of it, for the rank robbers
thereabouts.’ In such ill-repute were the people of these parts, even in
their own county, that we find the Newcastle Merchants’ company in 1564,
enacting that ‘no free brother shall take non apprentice to serve in the
fellyshipe of non such as is or shall be borne or brought up in Tyndale,
Lyddisdale, or any such lycke places, on pain of 20_ll_,’ because, says
the order, ‘the parties there brought up are known, either by education
or nature, not to be of honest conversation; they commit frequent thefts
and other felonys, proceeding from such lewde and wicked progenitors.’
The offence of calling a fellow-free-man ‘a Bussey-gap rogue,’ was
sufficiently serious to attract the attention of a guild; a case of this
kind being recorded in the books of the Bakers and Brewers’ company of
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1645.

The traces of this disordered state of society remained until the early
part of the reign of George III., when the sheriff of Northumberland was
first enabled to execute process in the north-western parts of the
county. ‘Within my own recollection,’ says Mr. Hedley, ‘almost every old
house in the dales of Rede and Tyne was what is called a _Peel_ house,
built for securing its inhabitants and their cattle in the moss-trooping
times.’ Very many of these yet exist. Far different is the state of the
district now. The men of the mural region, and of the vales of North
Tyne, and Rede-water, are as upright as any in England. With the
exception of a few aged individuals, an uneducated person is not to be
found. Although, in addition to the ordinary courts of law, they have
access to courts-leet and courts-baron, (those admirable institutions by
which our Saxon forefathers gave to the poorest villager the ready means
of procuring redress of wrong,) nowhere has the law less occasion
forcibly to assert its claims. Property is secure, and land brings its
full price in the market. On some of the extensive farms of the Cheviot
range, not fewer than ten thousand sheep are kept; they are counted but
twice a year, and seldom is one amissing. The value of land in
Northumberland (exclusive of towns and mines) is seven times greater
than it was at the commencement of the eighteenth century, and two
hundred times what it was in the middle of the sixteenth. The antiquary,
who will not fail to rejoice in the prosperity of the country through
which he is travelling, as well as in the safety of his own person, may
therefore go on his way cheerfully and in confidence.

The second mile-castle from Sewingshields, opposite the farm-house
called the Kennel, is remarkable as having been built upon an absolute
declivity. Hodgson observes that it had an interior wall on every side
of it, at the distance of about twenty feet from the exterior wall.

[Sidenote: THE BLACK DIKE.]

Shortly after leaving Busy-gap, two narrow, but rather steep gaps are
passed in quick succession, which do not seem to have obtained names.
Through the first of these the BLACK DIKE has probably run. This is an
earth-work of unknown antiquity, which is supposed to have stretched, in
a nearly straight line, from the borders of Scotland near Peel-fell,
through Northumberland and Durham, to the south of Yorkshire. The
scantiness of the soil on the crags of the Wall, accounts for its not
being discernible there, and the ground immediately to the north and
south of it is boggy. In a plantation on the hill side, opposite to
where we now are, looking south, the dike exists in excellent
preservation. The _seuch_, or slack of it, may be seen even from the
Wall, on the western edge of the plantation, which is called the
‘Black-dike planting.’ From the information of those who knew it half a
century ago, I shall set down its probable course in this vicinity.
Coming in a south-east direction, it passes the east end of
Broomlee-lough; having cleared the Wall and Vallum, it goes by the west
of Beggar-bog, the east of Low Morwood, through the Muckle-moss, and so
to the Black-dike plantation. Passing afterwards a field called the
Black-hall, it is last seen on the north bank of the Tyne near the
Water-house. It re-appears on the south bank at Morley, and passing
Tedcastle and Dean-row, is supposed to go by Allenheads into the county
of Durham. In the best piece of it which I have seen, the ditch is ten
feet across the top, and about five feet deep, reckoning from the top of
the mound on its east side. Within the memory of my informants, it was
much deeper. The sheep were often covered up in it in a snow-storm, as
they naturally went there for shelter. The earth taken out of the ditch
is uniformly thrown to the east side, where it forms an embankment. No
stones, or such only as were derived from the cutting, have been used in
its formation. The only conjecture hazarded respecting its origin is,
that it formed the line of demarcation between the kingdoms of
Northumbria and Cumbria; and certainly the course pursued by the
Black-dike is very nearly similar to the boundary assigned to these
regions in the most authentic maps of Saxon England. The antiquity of
the cutting may be inferred from the circumstances, that for some
distance it forms the division between the adjacent parishes of
Haltwhistle and Warden, and that it passes through bogs which probably
owe their origin to the devastations committed in the north of England
by William the Norman.[99] The Black-dike is laid down in the map of
Northumberland which was prepared to accompany Horsley’s Britannia, and
in Kitchin’s Map of Northumberland, under the name of the ‘Scots’-dike.’

South of the turnpike road, and behind a small house, called Beggar-bog,
is a low freestone crag, which exhibits some quarry-like excavations,
filled with the chippings of stone. It has probably furnished material
for the Wall, the stone being of the same character.

The stream which we next cross is the Knag-burn; it forms the eastern
boundary of Housesteads. Passing it, we scale the ramparts of this
far-famed station.


BORCOVICUS.—‘This’ says Gordon, ‘is unquestionably the most remarkable
and magnificent station in the whole island;’ and ‘it is hardly credible
what a number of august remains of the Roman grandeur is to be seen here
to this day, seeing in every place where one casts his eye there is some
curious Roman antiquity to be seen: either the marks of streets and
temples in ruins, or inscriptions, broken pillars, statues, and other
pieces of sculpture all scattered along the ground.’ Stukely, in the
vehemence of his admiration, denominates it ‘the Tadmor of Britain.’ Let
not the visitor, however, approach it with expectations too greatly
excited. There is very much to admire, but not a great deal to strike
the eye at first sight. The altars and sculptured figures which lay in
profusion on the ground when Gordon and Stukely were there, have been
removed,[100] but the ruins of the place remain as complete and vast as
ever. The city is, in a great measure, covered with its own debris, but
the excavations which have recently been made, shew us that when they
are continued throughout the entire station, the ancient BORCOVICUS will
be the Pompeii of Britain.

[Sidenote: HOUSESTEADS.]

The station of Housesteads contains an area of nearly five acres. 'Half
of it hangs on a slope, with a southern aspect: the other, or northern
half, is flat, floored with basalt, covers the summit of a lofty ridge,
and commands a prospect on the east, south, and west, far away beyond
the valley of the Tyne, over blue air-tinted grounds and lofty
mountains; and to the north of the Wall, over the vast waste of the
forest of Lowes, where indeed, a proud, stupendous solitude frowns o’er
the heath.'

The Wall forms its northern boundary, and the Vallum, it is probable,
came to the support of its southern rampart.[101] It is naturally
defended on all sides, except the west. In order duly to protect this
side, the gateway seems to have been walled up at an early period, and a
triple line of ramparts drawn along it.

Although the position of Housesteads clearly indicates that this fort
was erected for the accommodation of a mural garrison, it would seem to
have been built independently of the Wall. The first anxiety of the
soldiers engaged in that great work would be to erect a secure
habitation for themselves. The west wall of the station, instead of
coming up to the great Wall in a straight line, makes the curve which is
usual in those corners of a camp that are independent of the Wall; as is
shewn in the wood-cut at the top of the next page.

[Illustration: Junction of West Wall of Housesteads with the Wall]

[Illustration: Ground Plan of Gateway, Housesteads]

[Sidenote: BORCOVICUS.]

All the gateways, except the north, have been explored, and present very
interesting subjects of study to the antiquary. The western[Sidenote:
WEST GATEWAY OF BORCOVICUS.] is in the best condition, and is specially
worthy of attention. Its arrangements will readily be understood by an
inspection of the ground plan which is here introduced, together with
the views of it as seen from the outside and inside of the station, on
the next page. This gateway, as well as the others which have been
explored, is, in every sense of the word, double. Two walls must be
passed before the camp can be entered; each is provided with two
portals, and each portal has been closed with two-leaved gates. The
southern entrance of the outside wall has alone, as yet, been entirely
cleared of the masonry that closed it. The jambs and pillars are formed
of massive stones of rustic masonry. The doors, if we may judge from the
fragments of corroded iron which have been lately picked up, were of
wood, strengthened with iron plates and studs; they moved, as is
apparent from the pivot-holes, upon pivots of iron. In the centre of
each portal stands a strong upright stone, against which the gates have
shut. Some of the large projecting stones of the exterior wall are worn
as if by the sharpening of knives upon them; this has probably been done
by the occupants of the suburban buildings after the closing of the
gateway. The guard-chambers on each side are in a state of choice
preservation, one of the walls standing fourteen courses high. Were a
roof put on them, the antiquary might here stand guard, as the Tungrians
did of old, and, for a while, forget that the world is sixteen centuries
older than it was when these chambers were reared. At least two of the
chambers in this part of the camp have been warmed by U shaped flues
running round three of their sides beneath the floor.[102] These
chambers, when recently excavated, were found to be filled with rubbish
so highly charged with animal matter as painfully to affect the
sensibilities of the labourers. The teeth and bones of oxen, horns
resembling those of the red-deer, but larger, and boars’ tusks were very
abundant; there was the usual quantity of all the kinds of pottery used
by the Romans. It is not improbable that this rubbish may have been
derived from some dunghill outside the walls, and thrown here when the
gateway was walled up; it is, however, a remarkable fact, that the soil
of the interior area of the stations on the Wall is, for the most part,
thickly mingled with bones. Is it possible that the Romans have thrown
on the floors of their apartments, and suffered to remain amongst the
straw or rushes which may have covered them, the refuse of their food?

[Illustration: Outside View of the West Portal of BORCOVICUS.]

[Illustration: Inside View of the West Portal of BORCOVICUS.]

The view of Housesteads in the accompanying lithograph, is taken from
beside the eastern gateway, and gives a general idea of the scene of
desolation which it presents.[103] The only habitation near is a
shepherd’s cottage to the south of the station. A peculiarity in the
upper division of the eastern gateway requires attention; the lower
division, as seen in the lithograph, has been walled up at an early
period. A rut, nearly nine inches deep, appears in the threshold, on
each side of the central stone against which the gates closed. Grooves,
similar in character, are seen in the gateways of the camps at
Birdoswald and Maryport. Were it not for the central stone, which
presents an impediment to the passage of chariots, no one would doubt
that these hollows have been occasioned by the action of their wheels.
The following extract, explanatory of the condition of the city of
Pompeii, will probably throw light upon this and other things belonging
to the camp.


  H. Burdon Richardson, Delt.   John Storey, Lith.
  Printed by W Monkhouse, York


  The Domitian way which led to it was narrow, the carriage-way seldom
  exceeding ten feet in width. The streets of the city itself are paved
  with large irregular pieces of lava, joined neatly together, in which
  the chariot wheels have worn ruts, still discernible; in some places
  they are an inch and a half deep, and in narrow streets follow one
  track.... In most places, the streets are so narrow, that they may be
  crossed at one stride; where they are wider, a raised stepping-stone
  has been placed in the centre of the crossing. This, though in the
  middle of the carriage-way, did not much inconvenience those who drove
  about in the _biga_, or two-horsed chariot, because the width of these
  streets being only sufficient to admit the carriage, the wheels passed
  freely in the spaces left between the curb on either side, and the
  stone in the centre.[104]

The stone in the centre of the doorway would not be a greater impediment
than the stepping stones in the streets of Pompeii.

The remains of the gateways of BORCOVICUS shew that in plan and
construction they must have resembled the Roman Gateway which, under the
name of the ‘Porta nera,’ is preserved entire at Treves, AUGUSTA
TREVIRORUM, once the seat of government of the Western Empire.

In examining this and other Roman camps, the spectator will, perhaps, be
struck with the narrowness of the streets, and the very small capacity
of the the dwellings. It is well to recollect that in their encampments
the Romans studiously avoided occupying a larger space than was
absolutely necessary. Gibbon observes that a modern army would present
to the enemy a front three times as extended as a Roman one of the same
force. In the field, ten men were apportioned to a tent, ten feet
square;[105] a similar proportion would without doubt be followed in the
stationary camp.

[Sidenote: BORCOVICUS.]

It is not easy to ascertain the precise character of the dwellings of
the soldiers; the more perfect of the ruins in this and other forts,
induce the belief that they were dark, bare, and cheerless. The roofs
were probably formed of free-stone slate. Several thin slabs of this
kind, with nail-holes in them, as well as some of the nails themselves,
have been found in this and other stations.[106] On Plate XIII, figs. 1,
7, are drawn some door or window heads, found here; these most likely
belonged to buildings of a superior class. The entrance into a chamber
at HABITANCUM, recently excavated, was found to be only fourteen inches
wide; it was rudely ‘stepped over’ at the top. Fragments of a sort of
window glass are frequently found in some of the stations; this would
probably be a rare luxury.[107]


At Housesteads, two or three of the ruined chambers will, above the
rest, attract the attention of the visitor. Near the centre of the
northern division is one which is seventy feet long and eight broad; it
must have been a place of public concourse. In the front of it is a kiln
which has probably been used for drying corn; near the southern gateway
is another which was nearly destroyed in the endeavour made to extricate
a cow which had fallen into it, and, in struggling to relieve herself,
had thrust her head and neck into the flue. The Romans seem to have
kiln-dried their corn at the close of the harvest; it would not have
been safe to stack it in the open fields. They would the more readily do
this, as it is still by no means unusual, in the central and southern
parts of Europe, to thrash the corn at the close of harvest on the field
where it grew.

Three hypocausts have been found here, two within the station, and
another to the east of it, on the Knag-burn; the flues of the latter
were full of soot; very slight traces of any of them now remain.

In this and most other stations, writes Hodgson, ‘there are found
considerable quantities of limestone, having partly the character of
stalagmite, and partly that of such cellular stone as forms about the
mouths of petrifying wells. Some of it is in amorphous lumps; but the
greatest part of it has been either sawn into rectangular pieces, or
formed in a fluid state in moulds.’ They are probably artificial; at
HABITANCUM, where this calcareous substance is abundant, it seems to
have acquired its porosity by being mixed with straw. The use to which
it has been applied is by no means obvious. Hodgson thought that it had
been inserted in the side walls of the hypocausts, to allow heat to
arise from below without smoke. This is doubtful. At HABITANCUM, the
blocks, I am told, have been used as ordinary stones. In the
construction of the Pharos at Dover, (where building stone is scarce)
the calcareous composition has been largely used. Why it should have
been employed at HABITANCUM, and other places, where free-stone is
abundant, does not appear.

[Sidenote: BORCOVICUS]

The suburbs of BORCOVICUS have been very extensive, the ruins of them
distinctly appearing on the east, south, and west sides of the station.
A little to the south of it, and stretching westward, the ground has
been thrown up in long terraced lines, a mode of cultivation much
practised in Italy and in the east. Similar terraces, more feebly
developed, appear at Bradley; I have seen them very distinctly marked on
the banks of the Rede-water, Old Carlisle and other places.

A well, cased with Roman masonry, is in front of the shepherd’s house,
south of the station; a spring, yielding excellent water, is at the
bottom of the same field; the Knag-burn washes the station on its
eastern side, and there is ‘a fine well under the high basaltic cliff’
on which the northern wall of the station stands, ‘which is still well
walled round,’ and has occasionally been used as a bath. None has been
discovered within the station itself.

                                                              _PLATE XI_

[Illustration: Broken Columns, Borcovicus]

                                                             _PLATE XII_

[Illustration: Sculpted Figures, Borcovicus]

                                                            _PLATE XIII_

[Illustration: Sculpted Figures, etc.]


In the valley below is a small sandstone ridge, called Chapel-hill, from
the idea that a temple stood upon it. Two fine altars have been found
here.[108] The ruins that contained the Mithraic antiquities, to which
reference will be made afterwards, stood a little to the west of this
hill. All traces of the small, dark temple, where the horrid mysteries
of the god were performed, are now nearly obliterated.

The fragments of columns which are engraved in Plate XI, enable us to
imagine the original grandeur of the place.[109] With some of the
certainty with which a comparative anatomist decides upon the character
and habits of an animal, from an inspection of a fragment of its osseous
system, an architect determines the size and style of a building from an
examination of some of its parts. Thus, the circular column, of which
one of the stones (Plate XI.) that now lies in the valley below the
station, has formed a part, was probably not less than twenty feet high;
how imposing must the entire temple have been!

Plates XII and XIII exhibit several of the carved figures which formerly
lay in confusion among the ruins of the station. They are interesting,
as exhibiting the state of the arts in Britain at that time, the mode of
dress adopted by the Romans, and the [Illustration: Figure of Victory]
high degree of attention which they paid to the decoration of their
stations. Roman art in Britain has surely been rated too low.

The figure introduced on this page was found here. It represents one of
old Rome’s most favourite deities,—Victory, careering, with outstretched
wings, over the globe. How strong must the passion for conquest have
been in the breast of a people, who, though nurtured in a southern
climate, braved for more than three centuries, the fogs, and storms, and
desolation of this wild region! Wherever the winged goddess led, they
followed, and, most pertinaciously too, maintained their ground. But,
there is a tide in the affairs of men.

A Roman poet, in the fulness of his heart, sang—

            Urbs oritur (quis tunc hoc ulli credere posset?)
              Victorem terris impositura pedem.
            Cuncta regas: et sis magno sub Cæsare semper
              Sæpe etiam plures nominis hujus habe.
            Et quoties steteris domito sublimis in orbe,
              Omnia sint humeris inferiora tuis.

How different the strains which, in a distant age, and in another clime,
were to flow from the lyre of a brother bard, and how appropriate to the
present condition of the deserted BORCOVICUS!—

           Where is Rome?
           She lives but in the tale of other times;
           Her proud pavilions are the hermit’s home,
           And her long colonnades, her public walks
           Now faintly echo to the pilgrim’s feet,
           Who comes to muse in solitude, and trace,
           Through the rank moss revealed, her honoured dust.

That Housesteads is the BORCOVICUS of the empire, [Illustration:
Sepulchral Slab to a young Physician] appears plain from the numerous
inscriptions that allude to the first cohort of the Tungrians, which,
according to the Notitia, was quartered there. One of these inscriptions
is shewn on page 63; another, a sepulchral stone, is here presented. The
figure on the top of the slab I take to be a rabbit, and suspect that it
had some reference to the worship of the obscene god, Priapus. The
inscription is usually read in the following manner, though, perhaps,
_ordinario_ might with equal propriety be read _ordinato_:—

                            D[IIS] M[ANIBVS]
                         ORDI[NARIO] COH[ORTIS]
                           PRIMÆ TVNGR[ORVM]
                          VIX[IT] AN[NIS] XXV

               _Sacred_ to the gods of the shades below.
                               To Anicius
                         in ordinary, of cohort
                      the first of the Tungrians.
                      He lived twenty-five years.

From an inscription found at Castlecary, it appears that this cohort of
Tungrians built one thousand paces of the Antonine Wall in Scotland.
They were from about Tongres, on the banks of the Mæse, in Belgic Gaul.
Their rank, as a milliary cohort, conferred on them the dangerous honour
of advancing in the van of the army to battle, and their acknowledged
valour probably procured for them the appointment to this exposed and
dangerous post.


The etymology of _Borcovicus_ is easy. A high hill to the south of the
station is called Borcum or Barcomb, a neighbouring stream is designated
Bardon-burn, and a village near its confluence with the Tyne,
Bardon-mill. _Bar_, in Celtic, means a height, and probably forms the
root of all these names; the termination, _vicus_, is a Latin word,
signifying a village.

The stone used in the inside of the walls of the station, and for other
ordinary purposes, has been quarried out of the cliffs in the sandstone
ridge, along which the present military road passes. 'The altars,
columns, and quoins, and much of the ashlar work, have been taken from a
stratum of freestone on the north side of the Wall, and similar to that
in which the recesses, called the King and Queen’s Caves, on the south
side of Broomlee-lough, are formed.'[110]


Again taking the Wall as our guide, we will pursue our course westward.
For the greater part of the way along the high ground, the Wall is in a
sufficiently good state of preservation to make it a varied and
interesting study; it not unfrequently exhibits five, six, and even
seven courses of facing-stones. The Northumbrian lakes also lend a charm
to the scene. Though appearing in native simplicity and rude grandeur,
they will not on that account be less appreciated by men of taste. The
Vallum is generally very boldly developed, and runs for several miles in
the valley below, completely commanded by the hill on which the Wall
stands, as is shewn in the section, Plate IV. This fact is surely fatal
to the theory of its having been erected to withstand the brunt of a
northern foe. It would have been impolitic to allow the enemy to occupy
these heights even as a post of observation. It is true, that the Vallum
is occasionally commanded by the rising ground on the south: opposite
Sewingshields it is so, and opposite Hot-bank, a little to the west of
where we now are, it is overlooked on both sides. This difficulty is not
a very formidable one. The engineer of the Barrier has drawn the Vallum
chiefly in straight lines from one point to another, and has not thought
it necessary to guard with excessive jealousy every little rising ground
to the south; he never, however, departs from his course to go round the
north of a hill, as he does to go round the south of that one near
Halton-chesters. The cases, moreover, in which the Vallum is exposed to
observation from the south, are very few. Horsley’s own testimony upon
this point is decided. He writes—

  It must be owned, that the southern prospect of Hadrian’s work, and
  the defence on that side, is generally better than on the north;
  whereas the northern prospect and defence have been principally, or
  only taken care of in the Wall of Severus.[111]

[Sidenote: RAPISHAW-GAP.]

After passing a mile-castle we come to a depression in the ridge of
basalt, that places us opposite the west end of Broomlee-lough; the crag
on the west side of this slack is called Cuddy’s-crag. A little farther
on, we reach a more extensive pass, called Rapishaw-gap; a road passes
through it under the same circumstances as that through Busy-gap, a
little above the bottom of the valley. The traveller may here with
advantage go to the north of the Wall, in order to examine the
geological character of the cliffs he has passed; they are seen ‘to rise
in rude and pillared majesty.’

Regaining the high grounds, the Wall for a short space is found to
possess less than its usual interest; the ground on the east side of the
Bradley estate was formerly common, and the object of our study was
every man’s prey. Other objects of inquiry, however, abundantly relieve
the attention. Langley castle, on the south bank of the Tyne, is in
sight, and during our western journey will long continue to be so. It is
a square building strengthened by rectangular towers at the corners.
Formerly a seat of the Percys, it became afterwards the property of the
Radcliffes. It passed, on the rebellion of 1715, along with the other
possessions of the earl of Derwentwater, into the hands of the
commissioners of Greenwich Hospital, who at present retain it. Destroyed
by fire at an early period, it has never been repaired; its masonry is
notwithstanding in excellent preservation. On a clear day the singularly
strong tongue of land on which are the ruins of Staward-le-peel, may
also be discerned to the south. But, more to our present purpose, the
high, brown hill of Borcum, from which the Romans obtained much of the
stone used in the construction of this part of the Wall, is in the
foreground. [Sidenote: ANCIENT QUARRY] An interesting discovery was made
here in 1837, to which subsequent reference will be made. On opening an
ancient quarry on the top of it, near the ‘longstone,’ a workman found a
small copper vessel, containing a large number of Roman coins; four of
these were of the time of Hadrian, and all the rest, of previous reigns.
Those of Trajan and Hadrian were as fresh as if new from the die. The
conclusion is natural, that the quarry had been last wrought in the time
of Hadrian, the Wall itself being possibly of the same date. An
extensive earthen camp is on the summit of the hill, probably raised by
the soldiers who were engaged in quarrying the rock.

Greenlee-lough is to the north; on its western margin is a modern
structure, Bonny-rig, the property of sir Edward Blackett.

Proceeding westward, the Wall again rises into notice. ‘Much of it
remains of very various thicknesses, the whole of the perpendicular
outsets and insets being on the south side.’

[Sidenote: HADRIAN SLAB.]

On the tail of the crag on which we now are, the farm-house of Bradley
stands. Built up in the doorway of its old kitchen, was a stone, now at
Matfen, bearing the fragment of an inscription. Another fractured slab,
formerly in the possession of the ‘judicious’ Warburton, and now at
Durham, when joined to it, gives an inscription precisely similar to one
immediately to be noticed, with the exception of a letter or two in the
line of the fracture. The fragments, doubtless, as Hodgson conjectures,
formed one stone, deposited in the foundation of some castellum in this
neighbourhood, as a memorial of its erection by Hadrian. The wood-cut
annexed has been prepared from drawings carefully made of the two
portions in their separate localities.

[Illustration: Slab to Hadrian, Bradley]

[Sidenote: BRADLEY HALL.]

Once, at least, since the days of Hadrian, this central region of the
Wall has been honoured with the presence of royalty. Hodgson says,—

  On the authority of documents in Rymer, Prynne, and the Calender of
  Patent Rolls, I find Edward the First testing records in the presence
  of several great officers of state, at Lanchester, on Aug. 10; at
  Corbridge, Aug. 14; at Newburgh, Aug. 28, 30, 31, and Sep. 4; at
  Bradley ‘in Marchia Scotiæ,’ Sep. 6 and 7; at Haltwhistle on the 11th,
  and at Thirlwall on the 20th of the same month; and at Lanercost on
  Oct. 4, A.D. 1306, at which last house he continued all winter. The
  Bradley here mentioned is probably Bradley-hall, on the right bank of
  Craglough-burn, and a little south both of Vallum and Wall, not the
  farm-house of Bradley, which is between the two barriers.—_Northd._
  II. iii. 288.

The exigencies of war have again and again drawn to this secluded spot
the mightiest potentates of earth; as yet this imperial ground has not
been trodden by the feet of Majesty, attracted by the sweet allurements
of peace.

On the margin of the military road, opposite to us, is the only Inn in
the district, which is known by no other name than that of _Twice
Brewed_. Before the construction of the Railway it was much resorted to
by the carriers who conducted the traffic between the eastern and
western portions of the island. As many as fifty horses and about twenty
men would be put up here for the night. Now, it is nearly forsaken.
Hutton took up his abode here on a carrier’s night. The difficulty he
had in procuring an exclusive bed was compensated by the amusement of
observing the carriers at their meal—he soon perceived that they had ‘no
barricade in the throat; and became convinced that eating was the chief
end of man!’

[Sidenote: MILKING-GAP.]

The next break in the basaltic ridge, is the Milking-gap. As we approach
it, Crag-lough is seen laving the base of the perpendicular cliff along
which the Wall runs. In order to take the high ground, westward of the
gap, the Wall here turns at a considerable angle. In this valley, the
north fosse again comes to the help of the structure. In front of the
farm-house, called Hot-bank, are distinct traces of a mile-castle. In
taking up its foundations, the slab, of which the annexed drawing is a
faithful copy, was found, which would seem to be a tablet precisely
similar to that which is formed by the junction of the two fragments
referred to above.

[Illustration: Slab to Hadrian, Milking-gap]

                  IMP[ERATORIS] CAES[ARIS] TRAIAN[I].
                           HADRIANI AVG[VSTI]
                       LEG[IO] SECVNDA AVG[VSTA]

                     Of the Emperor Cæsar Trajanus
                          Hadrianus Augustus,
                 The second legion, styled the August,
           Aulus Platorius Nepos, being legate and proprætor.

Of all the inscriptions discovered in Britain, Hodgson pronounces this
to be of the greatest historical importance, inasmuch as it leads to the
true reading of several fragments of similar inscriptions
throwing[Sidenote: MILKING-GAP INSCRIPTION.] light upon the authorship
of the Wall. One of these was known to Horsley, and seems to have
puzzled that great antiquary. It and other fragments which have since
been found in different mile-castles, tend to produce the conviction,
that the mile-castles, (which are on the line of the Wall, ascribed to
Severus,) were built by Hadrian. The simplicity of the inscription will
strike the classical reader, who will not fail also to observe the
peculiarity of the name of the emperor being in the genitive case.

Although the station of _Vindolana_ lies considerably to the south of
the lines of the Barrier, it is ranked by the Notitia among the stations
_per lineam valli_, and as such, must be examined by us in our mural
peregrination. Leaving Milking-gap with this view, and crossing the low
grounds to the south of the Wall, the Vallum is observed, contrary to
its usual tendency, making two rapid curves, something in the form of
the letter S, to avoid, apparently, the swellings of the contiguous
marsh. At High-shields, a cottage on the little ridge south of the
turnpike-road, the station comes into view. It stands upon a partially
detached eminence, surrounded, though not so closely as to be commanded,
by hills of superior elevation. On all sides, except the western, it is
naturally defended, whilst the summits of the surrounding heights afford
it a degree of shelter which would be peculiarly grateful to the natives
of southern Europe. The Chineley-burn flows past it, and the situation
is altogether one of peculiar beauty. In modern times, the place has
been variously designated Little Chesters, the Bowers, and Chesterholm.

[Sidenote: VINDOLANA.]

VINDOLANA.—As this station is detached from the Wall, and lies upon the
line of the ancient road which ran from CILURNUM to MAGNA, it is not
improbable that it was one of Agricola’s forts. The road which connected
it with the Wall may yet be distinctly traced between High Shields and
the farm-house of Chesterholm.

The walls, ditches, and gateways of the station are all discernible. The
northern gateway would be the one chiefly used by the garrison, as it
opens directly upon the Great Military Way. An examination of the
western gateway, some years ago, led to the belief that it had been
walled up at an early period; this is the most exposed side of the camp.
A portion of the wall of the station near the north-east corner, when
cleared by its late owner, Mr. Hedley, stood twelve courses high. In
this case, as in many others, the researches of the antiquary have only
facilitated the operations of the destroyer; much of it has since been
removed. The size of the stones, which is considerable in the foundation
course, gradually diminishes upwards.

[Sidenote: CHESTERHOLM.]

At least two buildings provided with hypocausts, have been discovered
here. One of these stood about fifty yards beyond the western rampart,
and when discovered, contained a square apartment, vaulted above. Some
of the vaulting-stones are still preserved at Chesterholm; they are
grooved near the lower extremity, apparently to allow of the joints
being strengthened by the insertion between them of keys of slate or
wood. The remains of this building were more complete when Hodgson wrote
the following paragraph than at present:—

  The pillars of the hypocaust are still very black with fire and soot;
  and people say that the Bowers, from the Roman age till within the
  last century, was the elysium of a colony of fairies; and this ruined
  bath, the kitchen to one of their palaces, of which the soot among the
  stones was undeniable evidence; and confident belief affirmed, that
  long passages led from this laboratory of savoury messes to
  subterranean halls that ever echoed to the festivities and music of
  the Queen of the Bowers, and her aërial court.

[Illustration: Altar to Fortune, Chesterholm]

The other hypocaust was partially explored by Warburton in 1717, but
more fully by the rev. Ant. Hedley in 1831. It stood within the area of
the camp not far from the eastern gateway. In its ruins, Warburton found
the fine altar to Fortune, here engraved. It is now preserved in the
Library of the Dean and Chapter at Durham, the ‘judicious’ antiquary not
having been able to obtain his price for it of my lord Oxford.[112] Here
also Mr. Hedley discovered the three noble altars [Illustration:
Hypocaust Pillar] which are still preserved at Chesterholm. The pillars
which supported the floor of the hypocausts were of different shapes and
diameters; some of them were portions of square columns, as in the
annexed example, some circular, like the balusters of stairs, as may be
seen by the specimens of them in the garden at Chesterholm. The Romans
themselves, Hodgson remarks, seem to have treated the fallen works of
their predecessors here with very little ceremony, when they cut down
the handsome columns of halls and temples into pillars for sooty

About a furlong west of the camp is a copious spring, from which the
water was taken by a channel formed of large stones into the station.
The water still, in some measure, follows its ancient track, as the
appearance of the herbage shews, and pours itself, by a covered passage,
into the Chineley-burn on the opposite side.


  H. Burdon Richardson, Delt.   John Storey, Lith.

In the vicinity of the camp is an object of peculiar interest. On the
line of the ancient Roman road which skirts its northern rampart, stands
a mile-stone at the spot where the soldiers of Agricola or Hadrian
placed it. The opposite lithograph shews it in the foreground; the camp
is in the distance. It is upwards of six feet high, and is nearly two
feet in diameter. There are traces of an inscription on its western
face, but scarcely a letter can now be deciphered.[Sidenote: ROMAN
MILE-STONE.] Another mile-stone formerly stood to the west of this, but
it was removed and split up by its tasteless owner, into two gate-posts.
Horsley says that it bore the inscription—

                         BONO REIPVBLICÆ NATO.
               To one born for the good of the republic—

an inscription which, supposing it to be perfect, though this is a
little doubtful, is happily contrived to be complimentary to each
successive emperor. The Romans, with wise policy, paid great attention
to their roads; the stones which they erected at every mile were
generally inscribed with the name of the consul or emperor under whose
auspices they were made. Horsley mentions another mile-stone, which was
to the east of the present one.

Close by the mile-stone is a tumulus of considerable size.

In the house and grounds of the late Mr. Hedley, are preserved some very
valuable antiquarian remains. A very fine altar to Jupiter is reserved
for subsequent description. Another, whose focus is reddened by the
action of fire, is here introduced on account of the evidence which it
affords, in corroboration of the conjecture of Horsley, that Little
Chesters was the VINDOLANA of the Romans, where, according to the
Notitia, the fourth cohort of the Gauls was stationed.

[Illustration: Altar to Genius of the Pretorium]


To the genius of the Prætorium sacred; Pi- tuanius Se- cundus præ- fect
of the fourth cohort of the Gauls, _erects this_.

Several other inscriptions by the fourth cohort of the Gauls have been
found here since the time of Horsley.

The altar to Fortune, given in a previous page, shews us that at least a
detachment of the sixth legion had, at some period, its abode here.
[Sidenote: THE TWENTIETH LEGION.] A stone, [Illustration: alt=Symbol,
Leg. XX.] preserved at the place, and of which an engraving is here
given, bears testimony to the presence of the twentieth legion also,
which was surnamed V[ALENS] V[ICTRIX], ‘the valiant and victorious’, and
of which the symbol was a boar. This legion was first sent over to
Britain by Claudius, and remained in it until the island was abandoned
by the Romans. Horsley conceives that this legion was concerned in the
erection of the Vallum, though, he adds, we have no inscriptions to
prove it. He suspects that it was no-way concerned in building the Wall,
because, among all the centurial inscriptions which had come under his
notice, not one mentioned this legion, or any cohort belonging to it.
The discovery, since the publication of the Britannia Romana, of this
and other memorials to be noticed as we proceed, renders [Illustration:
alt=Part of Slab to Hadrian] it probable that the twentieth legion was
engaged upon both the Wall and the Vallum; and as, according to Horsley,
‘it is evident that this legion was at Chester in the year 154,’ where
it long continued, the probability is strengthened, that the Wall, as
well as the Vallum, was built before that period. A fragment of an
inscription, represented above, bears direct reference to Hadrian. The
Milking-gap slab, to which it has a very close resemblance, enables us
to supply the parts that are wanting. The only difference seems to be,
that the emperor’s name is in the dative case instead of the genitive as
in the other example.

                          _IMP CA_ES TRAIA_N_
                          _HAD_RIANO _AVG P P_
                             _LE_G II _AVG_
                     _A PLATORIO NEPOTE LEG PR PR._

The cottage which Mr. Hedley erected for his own residence is, with the
exception of the quoins, [Illustration: alt=Coping-stone, Roman
‘broaching’] entirely formed of stones procured from the station. In
addition to the altars which stand in front of the house, several
objects of considerable interest are built up in the covered passage
which leads from the kitchen to the burn; among them is a range of Roman
coping-stones, of the form shewn in the cut. The ‘broaching’ of the
stones has been alluded to previously.

Near the stables attached to the house, is a Roman altar converted into
a swine-trough; the figure on its side seems to have been intended for
an eagle, the emblem of the imperial Jove. A foretaste this of the day
when every idol shall be cast to the moles and to the bats. May it
speedily arrive!


                                         John Storey, Del. et Lith.

[Sidenote: VINDOLANA]

The probable meaning of the word VINDOLANA, is ‘the hill of arms;’
_vin_, with slight variations of pronunciation, signifying, in all the
Celtic dialects, a height; and _lann_, in the Gaelic, weapons. The name
well accords with those common in Ossian’s poems.

Rejoining the Wall at Milking-gap, and continuing our course westward,
we soon arrive at a conspicuous gap, on the Steel-rig grounds. The Wall
on the eastern declivity of this pass may be studied to great advantage.
The courses are laid parallel to the horizon; the mortar of each course
of the interior seems to have been smoothed over before the
superincumbent mass was added. In order to give the in-door antiquary an
idea of its condition, a drawing of it is here introduced.

[Sidenote: PEEL-CRAG.]

Mounting another hill, and again descending into the valley, we find
another gap, in which the remains of a mile-castle will be noticed, from
which it has received the name of the Castle-nick. A little farther
removed is Peel-crag, one of the most precipitous faces which the Wall
has had to traverse. The military way ingeniously avoids the sudden
descent by winding round the southern projections of the rock. After
passing a cottage, called the Peel, a modern road is encountered which
leads to Keilder, and so into Scotland; in its progress northwards,
however, it soon degenerates into a mere track. As this pass is more
than usually open, the fosse again appears surmounted by a mound on its
northern margin; the earth-works are strongly marked, but the Wall is

The lithographic view represents the northern aspect of the crags, as
they appear here.

On the western side of this, sheltered by a few trees, is the farm-house
of Steel-rig. Attaining the next elevation—Winshields-crag—we are on
ground reputed to be the highest between the two seas; a turf cairn has
been erected on it for the purposes of the ordnance survey. From this
lofty summit, the vessels navigating the Solway may easily be descried.

[Sidenote: BLOODY-GAP.]

Proceeding in the same direction, we reach another gap of wide
dimensions, but very steep on both declivities. Here the Wall has been
provided with a ditch, strengthened, as usual in dangerous situations,
with a rampart on its outer margin. If the local vocabulary does not
furnish this pass with a name (and I have not been able to find that it
does), Bloody-gap, from the following circumstance, well befits it.
Nearly direct north from it, is a rising ridge of ground, called
Scotch-coulthard. When the moss-troopers, who abounded in these parts,
succeeded in safely reaching it, their pursuers commonly considered
farther chase useless. Between the Wall and this point of safety,
therefore, the race and the conflict were necessarily of the most
desperate character; that many deadly conflicts have taken place, is
evidenced by the numerous skeletons which are turned up in draining the

A lonely cottage, upon an exposed part of the ridge, is called

Near the modern military way, two large stones, called ‘the mare and
foal,’ are standing. In Armstrong’s map of Northumberland, three are
marked; they are probably remains of a Druidical circle.


  H. Burdon Richardson, Delt.   John Storey, Lith.
  Printed by W. Monkhouse, York


Shortly afterwards we come to a gap of very bold proportions. Popular
faith asserts it to have been the abode of evil spirits, and it is known
by the ominous name of Bogle-hole. The sides of the gap are steep; on
the western declivity the courses of the Wall are for the most part
conformable to the ground, but they are stayed up by occasional steps
parallel to the horizon. In the valley, to the south, the Vallum is seen
bending up towards the Wall, apparently to assist in defending the pass;
it would not have done so, had it been an independent fortification. The
vicinity of Bogle-hole seems a fitting place for introducing the
following passage from Procopius, a writer of the fifth century. We can
readily conceive that at a period when the inroads of the Caledonians
were still fresh in the memory of the inhabitants, the country north of
the Wall would be regarded with superstitious dread. Doubtless, many who
passed the boundary, found, to their cost, that in this region lay the
pathway to the world of spirits:—

  Moreover, in this isle of Brittia, men of ancient time built a long
  wall, cutting off a great portion of it: for the soil, and the man,
  and all other things, are not alike on both sides; for on the eastern
  (southern) side of the Wall, there is a wholesomeness of air in
  conformity with the seasons, moderately warm in summer, and cool in
  winter. Many men inhabit here, living much as other men. The trees,
  with their appropriate fruits, flourish in season, and their corn
  lands are as productive as others; and the district appears
  sufficiently fertilized by streams. But on the western (northern) side
  all is different, insomuch indeed, that it would be impossible for a
  man to live there, even half an hour. Vipers and serpents innumerable,
  with all other kinds of wild beasts, infest that place; and, what is
  most strange, the natives affirm, that if any one, passing the Wall,
  should proceed to the other side, he would die immediately, unable to
  endure the unwholesomeness of the atmosphere. Death also, attacking
  such beasts as go thither, forthwith destroys them.... They say that
  the souls of men departed are always conducted to this place; but in
  what manner I will explain immediately, having frequently heard it
  from men of that region relating it most seriously, although I would
  rather ascribe their asseverations to a certain dreamy faculty which
  possesses them.—_Giles’s Ancient Britons_, I. 404.

[Sidenote: CAW-GAP.]

The next defile is Caw-gap; some ruined cottages, formed of Wall-stones,
stand in it. The extreme jealousy with which the Romans defended an
exposed situation is well shewn here. The fosse, which guards the pass
through the low ground, is discontinued on the western side as soon as
the Wall attains a sufficient elevation, but upon the the ground
drooping, though only for the space of a few yards, it re-appears for
that short distance.

A road runs through this pass to the north, which soon becomes a mere
track. It passes a solitary house, called Burn Deviot, nearly due north
from the gap, which was long the resort of smugglers and sheep-stealers.
The memory of its last tenants, Nell Nichol and her two daughters, who
were a pest to the country, is still fresh in the district. Though many
years have elapsed since any one occupied the dwelling, lights are said
often to be seen at the windows at night, visible tokens of the presence
of the spirits of the murdered children of Nell’s daughters.


The crags along which we soon find ourselves to be proceeding, possess a
perpendicular elevation of nearly five hundred feet above the plains
below. Passing another small gap, called the Thorny Doors, we come to a
tract of Wall in an excellent state of preservation. The lower courses
have lately been freed from the rubbish which for centuries has covered
them, and the fallen stones replaced in their proper order. The whole
face of the Wall has a remarkably fresh appearance, and nowhere can the
tooling of the stones be examined with more advantage. Amongst the
fallen stones, one was lately found which furnishes us with additional
evidence, that the twentieth legion was engaged in the erection of this
part of the Wall. It [Illustration: alt=Mural Stone, Leg. XX. V.V.] is
preserved amongst the antiquities at Chesters, and is represented in the
adjoining cut. This sculpture cannot have been derived from the Vallum,
in the construction of which, in the time of Hadrian, the twentieth
legion is acknowledged to have been employed; for the Vallum is here
distant more than three hundred yards from the Wall. The reader will of
course perceive the bearing which this fact has upon the question of the
contemporaneous origin of the two structures, and the construction of
the Wall, as well as the Vallum, by Hadrian.

While the antiquary is eagerly scrutinizing indentations in stones which
were chiselled sixteen centuries ago, his eye will occasionally rest
upon the memorials of an antiquity so indefinite as to throw into the
shade even his primeval records. Lepidodendra, and other fossils of the
mill-stone-grit and coal series, are of occasional occurrence. Who shall
tell when these giant plants flourished, how they were enveloped in
their sandy bed, and how hardened into the flinty stone made use of by
the Roman soldiers? Imagination reels at the questions suggested.

[Sidenote: PILGRIMS'-GAP.]

We are now arrived at the most perfect mile-castle remaining on the
line, generally named, from the farm-house to the north of it, the
Cawfields Castle. The gap which it guarded was denominated by the
peripatetic party of 1849, in commemoration of their visit, the
Pilgrims’-gap, a name which is beginning to be recognised by the
inhabitants of the neighbourhood.


Until recently, the castellum was nearly covered with its own ruins.
Since the annexed drawing was taken, the rubbish has been entirely
removed from the inside, as well as the out.

The building is a parallelogram, but the corners at its lower side are
rounded off. It measures, inside, sixty-three feet from east to west,
and forty-nine feet from north to south. The great Wall forms its
northern side. The stones used in the construction of this building are
of the same size and character as those employed in the Wall itself; the
mortar has disappeared from between the courses of the facing-stones,
but portions of lime are seen in the grout of the interior. In the
western wall, nine courses of stones are standing. The side walls of the
castle have not been tied to the great Wall, but have been brought close
up to it, and the junction cemented with mortar.


  H. Burdon Richardson Delt.   John Storey, Lith.
  Printed by W. Monkhouse York.

It is provided with a gateway of large dimensions, both on its northern
and southern side. In Horsley’s day, it was a matter of doubt whether
there was any opening through the Wall, excepting at the points where
the Watling-street and the Maiden-way crossed it; the disinterment of
this mile-castle sets the question at rest, and justifies us in
believing that the passages at Busy-gap, Rapishaw-gap, and other places,
are of Roman formation.

The gateways are formed of large slabs of rustic masonry, and to give
them full development, the walls are thicker here than in other parts.
The width of the wall at the lower gateway is nine feet three inches; at
the upper, which was, of course, the more exposed, ten feet six inches.
The opening of each gateway is ten feet. Two folding-doors have closed
the entrance, which, when thrown back, have fallen into recesses
prepared for them. Some of the pivot holes of the doors remain, which
exhibit a circular chafing, and are slightly tinged with the oxide of
iron. The security of the northern gateway did not entirely depend upon
the solidity of its masonry, or the strength of its doors. It opens upon
a sort of cliff, and the road from it does not lead directly away, but
runs for a little distance under the Wall, so as to give an opportunity
of more readily acting against an enemy.

The masonry of the whole building, but particularly of the gateways, is
peculiarly fresh. The lines that have been lightly chiselled on some of
the large rustic slabs of the gateways, in order to guide the workmen in
correctly placing those above which project less than than the others,
are still quite distinct. The stone is of a very durable nature, but it
is difficult to conceive how such slender markings, particularly when in
a horizontal position, could long resist the action of the weather. Were
we to judge only from the appearance of the masonry, we might be led to
suppose that the building had been enveloped in its own ruins not long
after its erection—perhaps in that dreadful irruption of the Caledonians
which brought Severus to this country—and that it was never afterwards

In clearing out the interior of this building, no traces of party-walls,
of a substantial character at least, were found. It stands upon a slope
of about one foot in five, and, towards the hanging side of it, the
ground has been rendered horizontal by ‘made earth.’ Some fragments of
gray slate, pierced for roofing, were found among the rubbish; it is
therefore not improbable that a shed was laid against the southern wall
for the protection of the soldiers. At about the elevation which the
raised floor would reach, the Wall is, in one place, eaten away by the
action of fire. Here, probably, was the hearth round which the shivering
soldiers of the south clustered, to forget, in the recital of their
country’s tales, the fierce Caledonians who prowled around them, or the
still fiercer tempests, which all their valour and all their engineering
skill could not exclude from their dwellings. With the exception of such
sheds, or mere temporary erections, the whole building seems to have
been open above. Two large fragments of funereal slabs were found in the
castellum; one of them has been roughly shaped into a circular form, and
is reddened by fire; the letters which remain are distinct and well
formed. Has it been the hearth? The inscription has been erased from the
other. Another stone of still greater interest was found here,
furnishing additional [Illustration: Part of Slab to Hadrian] evidence
of the erection of the mile-castles by Hadrian. From the annexed cut, it
will at once be perceived that it is a duplicate of the inscription,
already described, in which the second legion endeavours to perpetuate
its name, and those of its emperor, Hadrian, and Aulus Platorius Nepos,
his legate. There cannot be a doubt that the castellum and the Wall were
built at the same time, and by the same parties; if Hadrian therefore
built the one, the other is erroneously ascribed to Severus.

Two small silver coins were found amongst the rubbish within the
castellum, one of Vespasian, the other of Marcus Aurelius. Although
their testimony is of a negative character, it will be observed, that it
is not inconsistent with the idea, that the castle was erected in the
time of Hadrian, and with the opinion already hazarded, that it was
dismantled at an early period. There were also found large pieces of
earthen-ware, chiefly of the coarser kinds, and fragments of millstones
formed of lava, which shew that culinary operations were carried on
within these cold, bare walls, and a solitary oyster-shell among the
rubbish bore testimony to the attachment of the Romans to this article
of luxury. The mile-castle is very nearly midway between the seas.

Besides the articles already enumerated, there were picked up within the
castellum some large glass beads of somewhat singular appearance, (Plate
VII., figs. 7, 8) and a fibula of brass. The whole of these relics are
safely deposited in the collection of antiquities at Chesters. The
interesting building is, happily, upon an estate belonging to John
Clayton, esq.; the hand of the spoiler will therefore not be allowed to
touch it.

About one hundred and fifty yards south of the castellum, is a spring of
excellent water. Near it, about midway between the Vallum and the Wall,
an altar to Apollo was lately discovered, which will afterwards be


A road leads from the vicinity of the mile-castle to the town of
Haltwhistle, in the sheltered valley of the Tyne, whither, should the
shades of evening be approaching, the way-worn antiquary may be glad to
bend his steps. At the point where the path joins the modern military
road, a Roman camp will be observed. On the sides which are most
exposed, double and triple lines of earth-works have been raised. The
rock on the western face of the ground where the camp stands, has been
wrought by the Romans for stones, and the camp has given them temporary
protection. It was here that the inscription on the face of the rock,
LEG. VI. V., was discovered in 1847, as already mentioned, page 81. The
quarry, not being required for the use of the district, was shortly
afterwards closed.

[Sidenote: HALTWHISTLE.]

The Castle-hill at Haltwhistle is, apparently, a diluvial deposit;
ramparts, still quite distinct, run round the margin of its summit.
Several peel-houses in the town and its vicinity, will interest the

To those who cherish the religious views of the early Anglican
reformers, it will be interesting to remember, that this is the native
district of Nicholas Ridley, bishop and martyr. Willimoteswick-castle,
his reputed birth-place, is on the south bank of the Tyne, about three
miles below Haltwhistle.[114]


Rejoining the Wall, Haltwhistle-burn-head is the first object of
interest that we meet with in our course westward. The burn, to which
important reference will presently be made, is derived from the
overflowings of Greenlee-lough. Between its source, and the gap by which
it passes the ridge on which the Wall stands, it is called the Caw-burn;
below that point it bears the name of Haltwhistle-burn.

As the width of the defile, and the passage of the stream, render this a
weak point in the barrier, the two lines of fortification approach very
near to each other; they afterwards again diverge.

Westward of Burn-head farm-house, the fosse is boldly developed, but the
Wall is traceable only in the ruins of its foundation. As we proceed
onwards to Great Chesters, the foundations of a mile-castle which has
stood half to the north of the Wall, and half within it, may be, though
not without careful scrutiny, observed. The tower which formerly stood
at Portgate is the only other known example of a similar arrangement.


ÆSICA, or Great Chesters, is the tenth stationary camp on the line of
the Wall. Its superficial contents are 3 acres, 35 poles. The ramparts
and fosse are clearly defined. The southern gateway may be traced; it is
nearer the eastern than the western side. A double rampart of earth
seems to have given additional security to the western side, which, by
situation, is the weakest. A vaulted room in the centre of the camp
still answers very correctly to the description given of it in 1800 by
Dr. Lingard, (quoted by Hodgson, II. iii. 203.)

  It is 6½ feet square, and 5 feet high. It was descended by steps, and
  had, at the opposite end to its entrance, a sort of bench, raised on
  mason work, 2½ feet wide and high, and covered with a slab of stone.
  The roof consisted of six similar and contiguous arches of stone, each
  15 inches broad. It had also one pillar. The floor had on it a great
  quantity of ashes, was flagged, and on raising one of the stones, a
  spring gushed out, which converted the vault into a well.

About one hundred and fifty yards south of the station, in a field which
has for years been furrowed by the plough, the remains of a building of
somewhat rude construction have just been discovered. Its floor,
consisting, for the most part, of the usual compost, is nearly a foot
thick. Further examination would probably disclose, in its vicinity, the
foundations of numerous suburban buildings.

An ancient road leads from the southern gateway of the station to the
great military way which ran from CILURNUM to MAGNA.

[Sidenote: ÆSICA.]

The station of ÆSICA, according to the Notitia, was about the year 430,
garrisoned by the _cohors prima Astorum_.[115] Horsley (writing in 1731)
observes, that no inscriptions had been found here mentioning the first
cohort of the Asti, or any other cohort. In 1761, however, an
inscription was dug up in this station, which is now deposited in the
museum at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, recording that in the reign of Alexander
Severus (200 years before the date of the Notitia) the ‘cohors secunda
Asturum’ rebuilt a granary here which had fallen into decay from
age—‘horreum vetustate conlabsum.’ It is to be observed that the
spelling of ‘Asturum’ is similar to that of the inscription at CILURNUM,
and we do not find that the _second_ cohort, either of the Asti or
Astures, is mentioned elsewhere as part of the Roman auxiliary forces in

Near the eastern gateway of the station there has been lately dug up a
large mural tablet, shewn in the wood-cut, and bearing the following



  To the emperor Cæsar Trajanus Hadria-
  nus Augustus, the father of his country.

It is not probable that this slab has been derived from the Vallum,
which is upwards of a quarter of a mile from the station.[116] Why the
upper part of the tablet was left blank does not appear; enough,
however, has been inserted to support the theory, that Hadrian built the
Wall. Although several of the stations were probably built before the
Wall, and were quite independent of it, this can scarcely have been one
of them; its position seems to indicate that it was called into
existence in order to accommodate the mural garrison.


  _SURVEYED BY I. T. W. BELL 1860_   _A. Reid’s Lithog. 117
    Pilgrim St. Newcastle._
  Plan of


Celtic authorities all agree in tracing the name ÆSICA to a word
signifying _water_. The propriety of such an appellation does not at
first sight appear. The camp is far from either the eastern or western
sea; no lake is visible from its ramparts; the only water which is near
is the Haltwhistle-burn, a somewhat tiny stream. The low ground to the
south has a fenny aspect, but the station itself stands high and dry,
though upon a part of the mural ridge less elevated than usual. It is
not improbable that it may have derived its name from an aqueduct which
leads the water from the Greenlee-lough to the camp. As this
water-course has hitherto escaped the notice of writers upon the Wall,
and is a work of considerable interest, a somewhat detailed description
of it may be allowable.

                        THE WATER-COURSE AT ÆSICA.

  The camp, though not greatly elevated, stands higher than the ground,
  either north or south of it. The country to the north, though
  generally flat, is studded with numerous hills of moderate elevation.
  On the sides of some of these, about two-thirds up, may be noticed a
  line that reminds the spectator of the parallel roads in Glenroy and
  other places. On examination, it is found to be an artificial cutting,
  made with evident reference to the maintenance of the water level. The
  sections given in Plate XVI., shew its size and form. In some places
  the water stands in it yet; in others a mass of peat fills it; and
  very frequently, where the channel has been obliterated, its course is
  shewn by a line of rushes, which grow on the damp ground. Wherever the
  water-course can be distinctly discerned, it has been laid down in the
  accompanying plan by a green line; where the traces of it are lost,
  the line of the water level has been pursued, and is indicated by dots
  of the same colour.


  The whole length of the water-course is six miles; the distance in a
  straight line is little more than two miles and a quarter. It takes
  its commencement at the Saughy-rig-washpool, which is formed by the
  occasional damming up of the Caw-burn, at about a mile from its exit
  from the Greenlee-lough. In the immediate vicinity of the burn, the
  side of the water-course next the rivulet which would be endangered by
  the overflowing of the natural stream, is made up with flat stones put
  in endwise, some of which still remain as shewn in the section at B,
  in the plan. In its course to the station, in order at once to
  preserve the level, and avoid the necessity of using forced
  embankments or stone aqueducts, it is taken along the sides of the
  moderately elevated hills which rise from the plain. So ingeniously is
  this done, that once only has it been necessary to cross a valley by
  an artificial mound of earth. This has been at a spot between the
  third and fourth mile of the water-course, and which is still known in
  the district by the name of Benks-bridge, though probably few of the
  inhabitants are aware of the evident origin of the term. Some
  ingenuity has been employed in fixing the site of this mound. It is
  placed in that part of the valley where there is a slight descent on
  each side of it; the drainage of the surface is thus provided for
  without the use of a culvert; the surface water on the west, naturally
  making for the Halt-whistle-burn, that on the east for the river
  Tipalt. The mound which has taken the water-course across the valley
  at Benks-bridge has entirely disappeared, having probably been
  absorbed, in the course of ages, by the mossy ground on which it
  stood. The whole fall of the water-course, reckoning from the
  Wash-pool to the bottom of the arched chamber in the centre of the
  station is thirty feet. This is distributed over its entire length in
  the way shewn in the following table:—

                     ft. in.           m. f.  c.               ft. in.

 Commencing at   A   0   0          At  2 6   0½               11   10 fall

 m.    f.   c.                          2 7   5   E            14    4   ”

 0     0    6    B   2   10  fall.      3 0   0                21    6   ”

 0     1    5        3   10    ”        3 0   3                23    7   ”

 0     2    4        3   7     ”        3 0   6                23    5   ”

 0     3    4½       3   7     ”        3 1   3                29   10   ”

 0     4    9        3   6     ”        3 3   5                25    3   ”

 0     6    0        3   7     ”        3 5   0   North end,   25    4   ”

 0     7    8½       4   0     ”        3 5   0   South end,   29    7   ”

 1     0    6½       4   1½    ”        4 1   5                29    9   ”

 1     1    3½       3   7     ”        4 5   8                29   11   ”

 1     3    2½       3   6     ”        5 3   5½               28    6   ”

 1     4    0    C   3   10    ”        5 4   4                28   11   ”

 2     0    5        5   9     ”        5 5   5                29    0   ”

 2     1    6½       11  4     ”        6 0   0   Present      30    4   ”
                                                  bottom of
                                                  chamber in
                                                  centre of

 2     2    9½   D   11  2     ”

  The nature of the ground threw considerable difficulties in the way of
  the engineer, which accounts for the exceedingly tortuous nature of
  the track pursued. It is indeed remarkable that without the aid of
  accurate levelling instruments, any one could be so fully assured that
  the requisite fall existed as to venture upon the task of its
  formation. The workmen in the execution of the design probably drew
  the water along with them as they proceeded. In one place, (G) they
  seem to have made too free with the fall, and after proceeding for
  some distance, (upwards of a furlong) have retraced their steps, and
  constructed the cutting at a higher level. In crossing the valleys,
  there is sometimes an unusual loss of fall. This is particularly the
  case at the third mile (E) where there is a difference in the level of
  the course, on the opposite side of the slack, of nearly ten feet.
  This valley is permeated by a streamlet, and to take the water across
  it at the level previously preserved, a stone aqueduct would have been
  necessary. Appearances seem to indicate that an easier plan was
  adopted. A dam being formed across the hanging side of the valley, the
  water of the course was allowed to deliver itself freely into it, and
  eventually rising after the manner of a mill-head to the level of the
  course on the western side, pursued its way as before. That this plan
  was the result of a change in the design of the architect seems
  evident, for on the eastern side of the valley a second cutting (E)
  has been made at a lower level than the other, apparently with the
  view of leading the water more gradually to the lower point.

  Unfortunately all traces of the water-course are lost for some
  distance before approaching the station, so that it cannot be
  ascertained where it entered it, if it did so at all.

  That some important object was gained by the formation of so long a
  cutting is undoubted, but what that object was is a perplexing
  question. It can scarcely be supposed that the garrison at ÆSICA were
  dependent for their daily supply of so important an article as water
  upon an open cutting outside the Barrier. The feeblest of their foes
  could, in an instant, cut off the provision. No doubt the country, for
  some distance north of the Wall, was held in subjection by the Roman
  forces, but when the Wall was built, and the station planned, such was
  not the case. The station itself is not destitute of water. A well,
  sunk some years ago, to the depth of twenty-four feet, yields to the
  tenants of the farm-house an unfailing supply. I am disposed to think
  that the water brought by the cutting was to give to the north rampart
  of the station the advantage of a wet ditch. By throwing an embankment
  across the depression on the north of the station, as it begins to
  slope down to the bed of the Haltwhistle-burn, a considerable body of
  water would lodge here. The station of ÆSICA was an important one. In
  a particularly wild district, at an unusual distance from the great
  lines of Roman communication, and close beside the great opening in
  the mural ridge, by which the waters of the Forest of Lowes effect a
  passage to the low grounds, it would be peculiarly exposed to the
  attacks of the enemy. Although somewhat elevated above the ground
  north of the Wall, it is not so much so as to be impregnable on that
  quarter. A body of water collected here to keep the enemy at a still
  greater distance might not be beneath the attention of the garrison.
  Any temporary interference with the aqueduct would in this case be
  productive of no inconvenience. The existence of a water-course on the
  enemy’s side of the Wall at HUNNUM, which may have served a similar
  purpose, has already been noticed. At BREMENIUM, High Rochester, some
  guttered stones, covered with flags, were recently found lying in a
  direction which led to the supposition, that they brought water from
  some springs outside the station to the eastern moat.

  In the Archæologia Æliana[117] is a plan and description of an ancient
  aqueduct, which brought water from some distant rivulets to the
  station at Lanchester. It consists of two branches, the longer of
  which is nearly four miles in extent. Earthen embankments, to preserve
  the level, are occasionally used in both of them, and, as they run
  over sandy ground, the bottom of them has been puddled. The two lines,
  after uniting, deliver their water into a reservoir outside the
  station, near to its south-west corner. That the water of this
  aqueduct cannot have been used for domestic purposes appears from what
  Hodgson, the author of the paper, adds—‘Several wells have, from time
  to time, been discovered here by labourers, on the outside of the
  walls, and there is a plentiful spring at a short distance from where
  the bath stood.’

  Whatever may have been the object served, the water-course at ÆSICA is
  a striking memorial of the skill, forethought, and industry of the
  Roman garrisons. At the present day, in a highly civilized country,
  and after the enjoyment of a long period of internal peace, we are but
  beginning to see the necessity of bringing water from a distance into
  our large towns. An individual garrison, exposed to all the hazards of
  war, scrupled not, even fourteen or sixteen centuries ago, for some
  purpose which they thought important, to cut a water-course six miles

  It is not a little remarkable too, that after the lapse of so long a
  period, the cutting should be distinctly visible through so large a
  portion of its track.

  The view which is here taken of the object of the water-course is not
  given because it is absolutely satisfactory, but because it presents
  the fewest difficulties. We might have expected that if a miniature
  lake had been formed on the north of the station, some remains of the
  embankment necessary to confine its waters would appear; none are,
  however, to be observed. The soil, on being turned up, has not the
  black and sludgy aspect, which might be anticipated, but is of a
  yellow hue; the bottom of a pond at Wall-mill, which was drained
  within living memory, has, however, a precisely similar appearance.

To the south of Great Chesters is Wall-mill, near to which the burying
ground of the station seems to have been. Brand observed here several
remarkable barrows, and was shewn some of the graves which had been
opened. ‘They consisted,’ he tells us, ‘of side stones set down into the
earth, and covered at top with other larger stones.’ He took them to be
very early Christian sepulchres; this is more than doubtful. The
progress of agricultural improvement has obliterated all traces of the
cemetery; to one, however, of its sepulchral monuments reference will
afterwards be made.

The Romans systematically avoided intra-mural interments. The following
is one of the laws of the Twelve Tables:


It is remarkable that at so early a period of the history of the
republic, attention should have been turned to this subject, and that in
a digest of legislation so brief as that referred to, this should form
one of the enactments.

[Sidenote: COCK-MOUNT-HILL.]

Shortly after leaving ÆSICA, the crags again appear, and the Wall
ascends the heights. At Cock-mount-hill, about a quarter of a mile
forward, the Murus is four or five feet high. On the Ollalee ground, it
is six and seven feet high, and shews on the north, nine courses of
facing-stones; at another place, ten courses appear, and the height is
six feet four inches.[118] The earth-works are seen in the valley below,
covered with the whin, called by botanists, _Genista Anglica_. The
continuous sandstone ridge is deeply scarred with ancient quarries.[119]
Here the view is most extensive, Skiddaw, Crossfell, and other
celebrated summits, shewing themselves conspicuously on the south, and
Burnswark, a peculiar flat-topped eminence, and several more distant
hills, on the north. A truncated pyramid of stones and earth, used by
the ordnance surveyors,[120] has been left upon the elevated ridge,
called Mucklebank-crag.


The next defile that we reach is a very wide one, and is denominated
Walltown crags. Walltown consists of a single house, which, though now
occupied by the tenant of the farm, bears marks of having formerly been
a place of strength, and the residence of persons of consideration.
Ridley the Martyr refers with much affection in his valedictory letter
to his brother who resided here:—

  Farewell, my dearly beloved brother John Ridley of the Waltoune, and
  you my gentle and loving sister, Elizabeth, whom, besides the natural
  league of amity, your tender love, which you were said ever to bear
  towards me above the rest of your brethren, doth bind me to love. My
  mind was to have acknowledged this your loving affection, and to have
  requited it with deeds, and not with words alone. Your daughter
  Elizabeth I bid farewell, whom I love for the meek and gentle spirit
  that God hath given her, which is a precious thing in the sight of

In the crevices of the whin rock, near the house, chives grow
abundantly. The general opinion of the country is, that they are the
produce of plants cultivated by the Romans, who were much addicted to
the use of this and kindred vegetables. This belief is but a
modification of the more extended statements of our earliest writers on
the Wall. Sampson Erdeswicke in 1574, says—

  The Skotts lyches, or surgeons, do yerely repayr to the sayd Roman
  Wall next to thes, (Caer Vurron) to gether sundry herbs for surgery,
  for that it is thought that the Romaynes there by had planted most
  nedefull herbes for sundry purposes, but howsoever it was, these
  herbes are fownd very wholesome.

Camden gives an account precisely similar.

On the eastern declivity of the gap, and near the line of the Wall, is a
well, which, in the district, is generally called king Arthur’s Well.
Brand, however, gives a different account of it:—

  At Walltown, I saw the well wherein Paulinus is said to have baptized
  king Ecfrid. It has evidently been enclosed, which indicates something
  remarkable in so open and wild a country. Some wrought stones lay near
  it. The water is very cool and fine.

The western ascent is steep. Hutton tells us he was sometimes obliged to
crawl on all fours. On the summit are evident traces of a mile-castle.

[Illustration: Nine-nicks of Thirlwall]


We now enter upon a most interesting part of the line. The mural ridge,
divided by frequent breaks into as many isolated crags, is denominated
the Nine Nicks of Thirlwall. The view from the edge of the cliff is
extensive; stunted trees unite with the craggy character of the rock in
giving variety to the foreground. The Wall adheres, with tolerable
pertinacity, to the edge of the crags, and hence pursues a course that
is by no means direct. The accompanying wood-cut, which exhibits the
view looking eastwards, shews the zig-zag path which it adopts. Nearly
all our historians agree in stating that the most perfect specimens of
the Wall now remaining, are on Walltown crags. Certain it is that all
who have examined the other parts of the Wall with care, will visit this
with peculiar pleasure; but such are the varied features which each
section of the Barrier presents, and the consequent interest which each
excites, that it is difficult to determine which part, on the whole, is
most worthy of attention.


For a considerable distance along the crags, the Wall is in excellent
preservation, presenting, on the north side, in several places, ten
courses of facing-stones, and in one, twelve. In the highest part it is
eight feet nine inches high, and nine feet thick. The military way may
in many places be seen, avoiding very dexterously the more abrupt
declivities of its rocky path.

At length the cliffs, which extend in a nearly unbroken series from
Sewingshields to Carvoran, sink into a plain, and the fertility and the
beauty of a well-cultivated country re-appear.

However pleasing the change, the traveller will not fail occasionally to
look back upon the road he has trod, and view with secret satisfaction
those bold and airy heights which so well symbolize the austere and
undaunted spirit of that great people whose works he is contemplating;
and when in after years, and it may be in some region far distant, the
image of them rises in his imagination, he will be ready to exclaim—

                   I feel the gales that from ye blow
                   A momentary bliss bestow.

[Sidenote: CARVORAN.]

MAGNA, the modern Carvoran, lies to the south both of the Vallum and
Wall. The nature of the ground in its neighbourhood seems to have
dictated this arrangement. The Wall occupies the edge of a strip of
elevated ground, the benefit of which, as a position of strength against
an enemy, it was desirable not to lose. Had the station been placed as
usual on the line of the Wall, the Vallum, in skirting its southern
rampart, would have been brought into a swamp that occupies the valley
between the high ground on which the Wall stands, and the somewhat
commanding site of the station. Both the lines of the Barrier have
therefore been allowed to pursue their parallel course nearly together,
and the station has been placed about two hundred and fifty yards within
the Wall, on a platform which is sufficiently defended on the south by
the declivity that slopes from it to the modern village of Greenhead.

It is not impossible, however, that MAGNA may have been one of
Agricola’s forts, the valley, through which the river Tipalt flows,
requiring the adoption of this method of resisting the aggressions of
the Caledonians.

The station has enclosed an area of four acres and a half. Having, a few
years ago, been brought under tillage, it is with difficulty that even
its outline can now be traced; some fragments of the north rampart,
however, remain, and the north fosse is distinct.[121]

[Sidenote: MAGNA.]

In the front of the farm-house which was erected in the year—long to be
remembered in these parts—1745, is built up a Roman altar, apparently
without an inscription. In the garden, and behind the dwelling, are
several other interesting memorials of Roman occupation. Amongst them
are broken capitals and fragments of columns, moulded coping-stones,
gutter-stones, and troughs, of various shapes and rude construction.
Several bases of columns lie scattered about, the prevailing form of
which is square, as shewn in Plate XIII., fig. 5; one of them is,
however, of circular shape, and is ornamented with a cable-pattern
moulding, resembling the Housesteads pedestal, given in Plate XI.[122]
There are also preserved here a small altar, in perfect preservation,
inscribed, D[E]O BE[L]ATVCADRO, some imperfect altars, several centurial
stones, a broken effigy of the bird of Jove, a pair of bronze shears
(figured of the full size on Plate XIV., fig. 1), evidently, from their
proportions, meant to be handled by fair fingers, fragments of Samian
ware and amphoræ, a few beads, and some implements of iron. Amongst the
articles disinterred from the stations on the line, there are generally
to be found numerous small flat circular implements, of which examples
are engraved (of the full size) on Plate XI. They vary from half-an-inch
to two inches in diameter, and have a circular hole in the centre. For
the most part they are composed of sherds of Samian ware, occasionally,
of jet, and of amber; at Carvoran are some of rude shape, made of
imperfectly burnt clay and shale. Various conjectures have been hazarded
respecting their use; the most probable is, that they were employed as
tallies, the small beads representing units, the large, tens. In the inn
at Glenwhelt are preserved a magnificent pair of stag’s horns, nearly
perfect, which were found in the well of the station; each antler is a
yard long. In the possession of the Society of Antiquaries,
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, are several valuable inscribed stones derived from
this station, which have been presented by Colonel Coulson of Blenkinsop

                                                            _PLATE XIV._


  Lamp, Fibula, Shears, and Compasses

MAGNA, during the days of Roman occupation, must have been a place of
considerable importance. Not only did the road which leads directly from
CILURNUM, come up to it, but the Maiden-way, from Whitley Castle and the
south, ran through it, as is supposed, to Bewcastle and the other
stations north of the Wall, as shewn on the Map, Plate I.

Rejoining the lines of the Barrier, we find them about to descend into
the valley watered by the Tipalt, _insaniens flumen_, as Camden calls
it. The moat of the Wall is peculiarly well developed, that of the
Vallum, though less so, is still distinct; they are exactly parallel to
each other. Before the traveller forsakes his present elevation, it will
be well for him to mark the westward course of the objects of his study,
lest he lose their track in the swampy ground fronting Thirlwall Castle.
A valley of considerable extent stretches before him; on the north brow
of it, at the distance of about three miles, Gilsland Spa is situated;
the works of the Barrier stand upon its southern edge. The trough of the
north fosse may easily be discerned where it is intersected by the

It has been suggested that one of the objects contemplated by the Romans
in the construction of a double line of fortification, was the enclosure
of a space of ground which might be cultivated by the garrison, and
where their cattle might graze in security. If this had been the case,
the Wall would have been drawn along the northern margin of the wide and
fruitful valley of Gilsland, and the Vallum along its southern edge.


Thirlwall Castle is, as Hutchinson calls it, ‘a dark, melancholy
fortress’ of the middle age.[123] It was for many centuries previous to
its purchase by the ancestors of the earl of Carlisle, the residence of
an ancient Northumbrian family of the name of Thirlwall. Amongst the
witnesses examined on the occasion of the famous suit between the
families of Scrope and Grosvenor, for the right to bear the shield
‘azure, a bend or,’ which was opened at Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1385,
before king Richard II. in person, was John Thirlwall, an esquire of
Northumberland. The witness related what he had heard on the subject of
the dispute, from his father, who ‘died at the age of 145, and was when
he died the oldest esquire in all the North, and had been in arms in his
time sixty-nine years.’ Such is the language of the record of these
proceedings, preserved in the Tower of London.

This locality may also bring to the reader’s remembrance the lines in

             The whiles a Northern harper rude
             Chaunted a rhyme of deadly feud,
             ‘_How the fierce Thirlwalls, and Ridleys all,
             Stout Willimondswick,
             And Hardriding Dick,
             And Hughie of Hawdon, and Will o’ the Wall,
             Have set on Sir Albany Featherstonhaugh,
             And taken his life at the Deadman’s-shaw_.’—

It is not generally known that this ‘ancient ditty,’ which sir Walter
Scott gives at length in a note as a genuine antique, is a modern
fabrication, the production of his correspondent Surtees, the historian
of Durham. The ballad, however, breathes the very spirit of the fierce
borderers, or it would not have deceived so accomplished an antiquary as

The walls of the castle are nine feet thick, and are faced, both inside
and outside, with stones taken from the Roman Wall. It is a singular
thing to see a building, formed out of a prior structure, itself in
ruins, and becoming a prey to yet more modern depredators. The stones
remain meanwhile, whether in the primeval structure, or in those of
mediæval and recent date, as good as ever. Brand observes—

  There is built up near the inn at Glenwhelt, a most barbarous,
  gigantic head of stone, which is most certainly not Roman. It came
  from Thirlwall Castle, and has no doubt belonged to some of those
  hideous figures made use of anciently in such castles to frighten the
  distant enemy.

Brand’s original still graces the vicinity of the inn, and its effigy,
this page. Its ugliness is no proof that it is not Roman; but, after
all, whose beauty would not be tarnished by exposure such as it has

[Illustration: Stone Effigy]


That portion of the line which lies between the Tipalt and the Irthing
is probably weaker than any other between Wallsend and Bowness. Not only
is the ground flat, but it is destitute of the aid which copious rivers
give it, both at its eastern and western extremities. Throughout the
whole of this district, both barriers keep close together. Except in the
neighbourhood of Rose-hill, no portion of the stone Wall remains in all
this tract.

The country between the Tipalt and the Solway is characterized by a
number of diluvial hills, not unfrequently resembling barrows. To the
south of Brampton, they are so numerous and so nearly uniform in size
and shape as to suggest to the playful imagination the idea of their
being gigantic mole-hills. The occurrence of these in the line of the
Barrier must have caused some trouble to the engineer of the Wall. The
difficulty, however, was overcome. The first hill of this description
that we meet with, occurs immediately westward of the point where the
Newcastle and Carlisle railroad crosses the mural line. The Wall
unhesitatingly ascends it on the one side, and descends it on the other,
though it would scarcely have described a larger arc had it gone round
its base.


About half-a-mile onward is a small village, called Wallend. The
earth-works are, for a short distance, in an admirable state of
preservation; nowhere else is the Vallum seen to greater advantage.

A peculiarity in the relative position of the Wall and Vallum will here
force itself upon the attention. The Wall, which, for the larger portion
of its course, stands considerably above the Vallum, now takes a lower
level, and for nearly the whole space between this point and the
Irthing, is completely commanded by the earthen ramparts. The following
diagram will give a general idea of the country, and of the mutual
relation between the two structures. Had the Wall (A) and Vallum (B)
been independent undertakings, this arrangement would not have been
adopted. The earth-works ascribed to Hadrian having been found
inefficient, would have been relentlessly cut in upon by the officers of
Severus, who would doubtless have planted the Wall in those positions
which were naturally the strongest, irrespective of any prior work. As
it is, to give the Vallum the advantage of an eminence in resisting a
southern foe, the Wall relinquishes a portion of the acclivity which it
might with advantage have taken.

[Illustration: Section of Works near Wallend]

[Sidenote: CHAPEL HOUSE.]

Chapel-house and Fowl-town, two contiguous farm-houses, are next met
with in our course. Chapel-house is probably the site of a mile-castle,
it having been constructed out of the materials of a [Illustration: Slab
to Hadrian, by Leg. XX. V. V.] prior building, which boasted walls of
great thickness. An inscribed stone, of which the woodcut is a copy, is
to be seen lying in an out-house, from the walls of which it has
recently been taken. The letters on one end have been worn away. The
inscription may be read—

                             NERVÆ N[EPOTI]
                          TRA[IANO] HADRIA[NO]
                              LEG. XX. VV.

                       To the grandson of Nerva,
                           Trajanus Hadrianus
             The twentieth legion, valiant and victorious.

This is another testimony which recent research has brought to light, of
the part which Hadrian and the twentieth legion bore in the
construction, both of the Wall and the Vallum.

At the village of Gap, the Vallum, which is very distinct, stands
considerably above the Wall. The place is said to take its name from the
Wall having been broken through here at an early period.

Rose-hill is a hill no longer. The top of the diluvial mount was thrown
into the surrounding hollow, in order to afford a site for the railway
station, that has assumed the name of the summit which it displaced.

[Sidenote: MUMP’S HALL.]

In the immediate neighbourhood of Rose-hill is Mump’s-hall, formerly the
residence of the Meg Merrilies of sir Walter Scott:—

  'Mump’s-hall,' says Hodgson, 'according to tradition, was once a
  public-house, kept by a notorious person of the name of Meg Teasdale,
  who drugged to death such of her guests as had money. In Guy Mannering
  she glares in the horrid character of Meg Merrilies. But certainly all
  this tradition is deeply coloured with unpardonable slander against
  the ancient and respectable family of the Teasdales of Mump’s-hall.'

  Sir Walter Scott was in early life an occasional resident at Gilsland.
  The broad, flat stone is pointed out, a little above the Shaws Hotel,
  on which tradition asserts he was standing when he declared to the
  subsequent lady Scott the emotions which agitated his bosom. He had
  therefore the opportunity of becoming acquainted with the district and
  its traditions.

  The small thatched cottage, opposite to the road leading from the
  railway station, is usually pointed out as the residence of Meg, but
  it is not the one which was occupied by her. She lived in the larger
  building beyond, round which the road bends at a right angle. The
  front of the house is modernized, but the back of it still retains the
  character of a border fortress. My information upon this and other
  subjects respecting her, has been derived from an individual residing
  in the district, whose mother knew Meg well, and visited her upon her
  death-bed. Although the heroine of Mump’s-hall was cast in a mould
  somewhat suited to the state of the district at that time, she was not
  the fiend-like woman that she is generally represented. One murder,
  however, the tradition of the country lays to her charge. A pedlar
  having called upon Meg’s brother, who kept a school at Long Byers
  (mid-way between Rose-hill and Greenhead), accidentally presented to
  him a box filled with guineas instead of his snuff-box. The traveller
  was requested to convey a note to Mump’s-hall, which he did, but was
  not seen alive afterwards. Suspicion arising, the house was searched,
  and the body found concealed among hay in the barn; but the parties
  who made the discovery durst not reveal it, for fear of injury to
  themselves and families. About six weeks afterwards the body was found
  lying upon the moors. My informant added to his narrative—‘probably
  the laws were not so active in those days as at present, for these
  things could not escape now.’

  When Meg was upon her death-bed, the curiosity of the neighbourhood
  was excited, and many of her cronies visited her, in hopes of hearing
  her disburthen her conscience respecting the death of the pedlar. They
  were, however, disappointed; for whenever she attempted to speak upon
  the subject, some one of the family, who always took care to be
  present, placed a hand upon her mouth.

  Upper Denton church is hard by. It is evidently a very ancient
  building, and possibly exhibits some Saxon work. It is one of the
  smallest churches in England, and is as damp and mouldy as felons’
  dungeons used to be. Meg and several of the members of her family lie
  in the church-yard. Four tombstones, ranged in a row, mark their
  resting places.

[Sidenote: POLTROSS-BURN.]

The works of the Barrier are crossed by the railway a little to the west
of Rose-hill station. The Wall here exhibits three or four courses of
facing-stones. A little beyond this point, the lines, still clearly
defined, cross the stream called Poltross-burn, which divides the
counties of Northumberland and Cumberland. The gorge in which the stream
flows is deep and well-wooded. There are no remains of a bridge in the
valley, but traces of a mile-castle, by which the defile has been
guarded, are distinct upon its western bank. Before reaching the
Irthing, at a farm-house called Willowford, the site of another
castellum may be discerned. From this point to the water’s edge, the
Wall and Vallum have probably gone in close companionship; but this is a
matter which cannot now be ascertained. The western bank of the river is
lofty and precipitous. Consisting, as it does, chiefly of diluvial soil
and gravel, on which the water of the stream below is continually
acting, it is not surprising that all traces of the Wall, if it ever
ascended the height, have long since disappeared. On the very brink of
the precipice above, the remains of the Wall and fosse re-appear. The
faithful followers of the Wall, who have closely pursued its track from
the eastern sea, will not be willing to desert their companion, even for
a brief space, at this point. The cliff, however, will test their
constancy. Hutton had his troubles; he says, somewhat magniloquently—


  I had this river to cross, and this mountain to ascend, but I did not
  know how to perform either. I effected a passage over the river by the
  assistance of stones as large as myself, sometimes in and sometimes
  out; but, with difficulty, reached the summit of the precipice by a
  zig-zag line, through the brambles, with a few scratches.

The latest historian of the Wall attempted to ascend the bank in a right
line; he has given us the result of his experience, as a warning to

  None of the party completely succeeded in ascending the precipitous
  bank by the course of the Wall. The attempt is very dangerous, and, as
  success accomplishes nothing, should never be tried by those whose
  life and existence are in any way useful.

On the top of the cliff is a mile-castle. To the north, two conical
summits appear, which strongly resemble barrows. We now approach
Birdoswald, the twelfth station on the line.

[Sidenote: AMBOGLANNA.]

AMBOGLANNA, the Birdoswald of the present day, is an interesting
station. [Illustration: alt=Altar to Jupiter, by Coh. I. Ael. Dac.]
Numerous inscriptions have been found within its walls, mentioning the
first cohort of the Dacians, surnamed the Ælian, which, according to the
Notitia, was quartered at AMBOGLANNA. One of them, in the possession of
Robert Bell, esq., of the Nook, Irthington, is here figured.

                        I[OVI] O[PTIMO] M[AXIMO]
                        ET N[VMINIBVS] AVG[VSTI]
                         COH[ORS] PRIMA AEL[IA]
                         DAC[ORVM] CVI PR[ÆEST]

                   To Jupiter, the best and greatest,
                      And the deities of Augustus,
                      The first cohort (the Ælian)
                      Of the Dacians, commanded by
                              The Tribune.

The name AMBOGLANNA seems to signify, the circling glen. The former part
of the word, meaning _about_, is met with in most of the western
languages; as the Welsh _am_, the Irish and Gaelic _umain_, the Saxon
_ymb_ or _embe_, the Greek αμφι, and the Latin (in compound words)
_amb_. _Glanna_ is obviously synonymous with the modern _glen_, a term
of very frequent use in the land of the Gäel.

Here the name has been most appropriately bestowed. The camp stands upon
the precipitous edge of a tongue of land, which, on every side except
the west, is severed from the adjoining ground by deep scars. Hodgson
describes the spot with great accuracy—

  The Irthing, in front of the station, makes two grand and sweeping
  turns, under red scars, which have rich flat grounds before them,
  deeply fringed along the margin of the river with a border of alder,
  heckberry (_Prunus Padus_, or bird-cherry,) and other upland trees.
  When the banks are not steep, they are deeply wooded: and diluvial
  hills, rounded into vast and beautiful varieties of form, present to
  the eye rich sylvan and cultivated scenes, while their component
  parts, as the river passes their sides, expose to the geologist
  rounded specimens of the different kinds of rocks to be found in the
  plains of Cumberland, and the high mountains that lie on each side of
  the Firth of the Solway.

[Sidenote: BIRDOSWALD.]

The modern name presents greater difficulties than the ancient one. Had
king Oswald been a denizen of these parts, which he was not, we might
have supposed that Birdoswald was a _burgh_ of his. The name is one of
old standing, but the etymology of it can only be a subject of

The station contains an area of between five and six acres. The walls
are in an unusually good state of preservation; the southern rampart
shewing eight courses of facing-stones. Camden’s statement is still true
to the letter;—‘it has been surrounded with a stately wall of
free-stone, about five feet thick, as may be fairly measured at this
day.’ The moat which surrounded the wall may also be satisfactorily

Although the Wall adapts itself to the north rampart of the fort, the
station is entirely independent of the Wall (see the wood-cut _p._ 84),
and must have been built before it. Probably the first step taken in the
construction of the Barrier, in every case, was the erection of the
stationary camps.

The Vallum cannot now be traced in the immediate vicinity of the
station; but Gordon tells us, that it came close up to the southern

[Illustration: West Gateway, Birdoswald, Amboglanna]

The southern gateway may be discerned, though it is encumbered with
rubbish; the eastern and western have recently been divested of much of
the matter that has for ages obscured them. The wood-cut, representing
the western portal, as seen from the inside, exhibits the pivot-holes of
the gates, and the ruts worn by the chariots or wagons of the Romans.
The ruts are nearly four feet two inches apart, the precise gauge of the
chariot marks in the east gateway at Housesteads. The more perfect of
the pivot-holes exhibits a sort of spiral grooving, which seems to have
been formed with a view of rendering the gate self-closing. The aperture
in the sill of the doorway, near the lower jamb, has been made
designedly, as a similar vacuity occurs in the eastern portal; perhaps
the object of it has been to allow of the passage of the surface water
from the station.

The whole area of the camp is marked with the lines of streets and the
ruins of buildings. The present farm-house occupies, according to
Horsley, the site of the pretorium. On the east side of the southern
gateway are the remains of a kiln for drying corn; the stones are
reddened by fire. Near the eastern gateway a building, furnished with a
hypocaust, has been partially excavated. From its ruins a sculptured
figure, draped, and in a sitting posture, has recently been taken. The
head and other highly relieved parts were found to have been broken off:
it remains on the ground.

[Illustration: Mural Stone, Leg. VI. V. F.]

A large altar with an inscription, which is in a great measure
illegible, lies within the walls of the camp. A stone broken in two
pieces, and which is preserved on the spot, bears testimony to the
presence of the sixth legion here; it may be read, LEGIO SEXTA VICTRIX
FIDELIS—The Sixth legion the Victorious and Faithful.

[Sidenote: AMBOGLANNA.]

The boldness of the lettering, and the depth and clearness of the
cutting, give reason to suppose that the inscription is of early date.
Besides these, several centurial stones, mill-stones, and coping-stones,
as well as portions of tile, and fragments of pottery, are preserved in
the farm-house, and yield to the visitor indubitable proofs of Roman
occupation. In draining the field to the west of the station, many small
altars, without inscriptions, have been found, which were remorselessly
broken, and used with other materials for filling the drains. Strange,
that altars before which Romans of ‘fierce countenance’ have bowed,
should be put to such a use!

            Imperious Cæsar, dead, and turned to clay,
            Might stop a hole to keep the wind away:
            O, that the earth which kept the world in awe,
            Should patch a wall to expel the winter’s flaw!

On the east of the station are extensive and well-defined marks of
suburban buildings.

The accompanying lithograph is taken from the western side of the
station. It well represents the chilly and somewhat forbidding aspect of
this now nearly deserted place.


  H. Burdon Richardson, Delt.   John Storey, Lith.
  Printed by W. Monkhouse, York.

Westward of Birdoswald, the Wall is in an unusually good state of
preservation. Taking into account, not only the height, but the length
of the fragment, and the completeness of the facing-stones on both
sides, it may be pronounced the finest specimen of the great structure
that now remains. Some portions of it, however, are beginning to exhibit
evident signs of decrepitude and decay.

[Illustration: Section of Works, Wallbours]

Within a short mile of the station, the remains of a castellum appear.
Here the Vallum exhibits the unusual feature of a second ditch, as is
represented in the subjoined section.[125] Hodgson says—

  Through a bog, about a mile west of AMBOGLANNA, the Vallum has had two
  ditches, probably intended for draining the military road that ran
  between them. They are still very distinct.

A careful examination of the spot induces me to think, that the
additional fortification was intended to give increased security to a
defile, which, running from the vicinity of the Wall to the bed of the
Irthing below, renders the works in this part more than usually liable
to attack from the south.


At the western extremity of this extra ditch, the Wall and Vallum come
into close proximity; the space between them was, with the exception of
room for the military way, occupied by the foundations of a castellum.
The place bears the name of Wallbours.

The Barrier next crosses a small hill called the Pike. The Vallum is a
little below the summit of the eminence, on its southern side; if this
fortification had been formed irrespective of the Wall, it would
doubtless have been drawn along the top of the height. The same remark
applies to Hare-hill.

The view from the Pike, of the flat and fertile vale below is truly


Soon after passing Banks-burn, we arrive at Hare-hill, where a portion
of the Wall stands nine feet ten inches in height. This is the highest
piece of the Wall that is anywhere to be met with; but, owing to the
smallness of the fragment, and to its being entirely deprived of
facing-stones, it is less imposing than it would otherwise be. Hutton’s
enthusiasm, however, never fails him; his remark at Hare-hill is—

  I viewed this relick with admiration: I saw no part higher.

At this point of our progress, the antiquary may be disposed to turn
aside for a little, to view two relics of the mediæval period of great
interest—Lanercost Priory and Naworth Castle. The priory is a beautiful
specimen of the early English style, and bears architectural evidence of
having been built somewhere between the years 1155 and 1160. Besides the
church, partially in ruins and partially in repair, the refectory and
some portions of the monastic buildings remain. The whole structure has
been formed of stones taken from the Roman Wall. In addition to some
altars preserved in the crypt of the church, several centurial and
carved stones are to be seen in the walls of the adjacent buildings.


Naworth Castle, though still an interesting building, is destitute of
some of the attractions which it once possessed. The Roman altars and
other primeval monuments collected by lord William Howard, have long
been dispersed, and a fire in 1844, almost entirely destroyed the
baronial residence of that renowned border-chief, which, until that
event, remained nearly in the state in which it was in his own day. The
dungeons, however, in which the daring moss-troopers were immured,
remain, and two magnificent oak trees near the grand entrance still
extend those brawny arms on which, according to tradition, lord William
suspended the victims of his lawless power. The load of twenty gasping
wretches would not materially weigh down the larger boughs of these fine
trees. That the government of lord William—the Belted Will of Border
tales—was of a vigorous character, there cannot be a doubt; but that he
used his power capriciously, cruelly, or tyrannically, there is no
evidence. Lord William seems to have sent the most desperate of his
prisoners to Newcastle-upon-Tyne or Carlisle. They would probably have
as good a chance for life at Belted Will’s tribunal as at the assizes of
either of these towns, if we may judge of the state of feeling towards
them from North’s Life of Lord-keeper Guildford. His lordship, then sir
Francis North, came to Newcastle, on the northern circuit, in 1676. His
biographer says—

  The country is yet very sharp upon thieves; and a violent suspicion,
  there, is next to conviction. When his lordship held the assizes at
  Newcastle, there was one Mungo Noble, supposed to be a great thief,
  brought to trial before his lordship, upon four several indictments;
  and his lordship was so much a south-country judge as not to think any
  of them well proved. One was for stealing a horse of a person unknown,
  and the evidence amounted to no more than that a horse was seen
  feeding upon the heath near his shiel, and none could tell who was the
  owner of it. In short the man escaped, much to the regret of divers
  gentlemen, who _thought he deserved_ to be hanged, and that was
  enough. While the judge at the trial discoursed of the evidence and
  its defects, a Scotch gentleman upon the bench, who was a border
  commissioner, made a long neck towards the judge and said—'My laird,
  send him to huzz, and ye’s ne'er see him mair.'

On rejoining the Barrier, we find, that though the line of the Wall, in
its course to the Eden, may yet be distinctly discerned, in very few
instances any portion of the masonry remains.

[Sidenote: MONEY-HOLES.]

The site of a mile-castle nearly opposite Lanercost Priory, is termed
Money-holes, in consequence of the efforts made to discover some
treasure supposed to be concealed in it. At Crag-hill the north ditch is
very bold. At Hayton-gate, a drove road, probably an ancient pass,
crosses the line of the Wall from north to south. At Randilands the
north fosse is still well developed. After crossing the rivulet, called
Burtholme-beck, a piece of the Wall is seen, which stands about seven
feet high; its facing-stones are gone, but the rough pebbly mortar
possesses its original tenacity. As is often the case, the ruin is
tufted with hazel bushes and stunted specimens of the alder and oak. The
Vallum is about seventy yards to the south of the Wall.

Approaching Low-wall,[126] something like an out-work appears on the
north side of the Barrier. Has there been a double line of wall here?
After crossing a road, denominated Friar-wain-gate, which leads from
Bewcastle to Lanercost, we reach another house called Wall; Roman masons
might claim many of the stones as theirs. At How-gill is a cottage,
where probably a mile-castle stood to defend the ‘beck,’ In the modern
structure may be observed stones broached in the Roman fashion, and
others variously tooled by Roman hands.

The farm-house of Dove-cote is on the eastern bank of the King-water.
The fosse and the foundation of the Murus are seen crossing the hill on
the northern side of the summit: the Vallum, which is indistinctly
marked, probably took a corresponding position on the southern side.

[Sidenote: WALTON.]

The village of Walton, by its very name, bears testimony to its
relationship with the great Barrier-line. Many of the stones of the Wall
may be detected in its cottages. One of its dwellings furnishes a good
specimen of the mode of cottage-building formerly prevalent in the
North. The rafters of the house, which consist of large and
rudely-shaped pieces of timber, instead of resting upon the walls, come
down to the ground; they are tied together near the top by a transverse
beam, and the mud walls, as well as the thatched roof, partially depend
upon them for support. Horsley says, 'at Wal-town there seems to have
been some fortification or encampment. One side of the square is yet
very visible, and the ramparts pretty large, about eighty yards long. It
is high ground and dry. Perhaps it has been a summer encampment or
exploratory post for the garrison at Cambeck.'

At Sandysike farm-house the foundation of the Wall as well as abundant
traces of mural vicinage are to be seen. The barn consists of Roman
stones marked with the diamond-broaching. Several sculptured stones are
built up in the garden-wall; amongst them is one which displays the
thunderbolt of Jove; the wall-fruit peacefully rests upon it. Another,
exhibiting the wheel of Nemesis, the emblem of swift justice, and which
no doubt once formed part of an altar to Jupiter, is built into a
pig-sty. A mill-stone of peculiar shape, and closely resembling one at
Naworth Castle, is preserved on the grounds; it is probably Roman.

[Sidenote: PETRIANA.]

PETRIANA, the Cambeck-fort of Horsley, and the Castle-steads of the
locality, is to the south of the Vallum and Wall. A deep scar separates
it from the lines of the Barrier. The site of the station may be
recognised, but it is long since its ramparts were overthrown, and the
ruined buildings of the interior entirely obliterated.

Its rich soil and sunny exposure recommended it to the father of the
present proprietor of Walton-house as a fitting site for a garden, and
such it is at the present day. It has yielded many altars and[Sidenote:
CAMBECK-FORT.] sculptured stones, some of which are still preserved upon
the spot, and from time to time the spade still reveals to the
numismatist, treasures, over the loss of which, Romans in ancient days
may have mourned, though not in a degree proportioned to their present
value. Wood-cuts of three of the coins which have been found at
Castlesteads are here introduced, as they commemorate the family of a
man whose name is intimately connected with the Wall. They are in the
cabinet of Robert Bell, esq., of Irthington.

[Illustration: Coin of Severus, Julia]

  JULIA, the second wife of Severus, and the mother of Caracalla and
  Geta. Severus, who was a believer in astrology, on the death of his
  first wife, looked out for another whose nativity was favourable to
  the ambitious views which he at that time entertained. He heard of a
  woman in Syria whose destiny it was to marry a king, and accordingly
  solicited and obtained in marriage Julia Domna.

[Illustration: Coin of Caracalla]

  BASSIANUS, commonly called Caracalla. He was created Cæsar by his
  father, A.D. 196, when he took the names of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.
  In A.D. 198, he was invested with the dignity of Augustus. Amongst his
  other titles, he bore the name of Britannicus, as is shewn on the
  coin. The engraver of the die from which this coin was struck, has
  probably given a correct likeness of his subject; at least, he has
  represented an individual who appears capable of attempting an aged
  father’s life, and of imbruing his hands in the blood of a brother.
  Vengeance at length overtook him.

[Illustration: Coin of Geta]

  GETA, who, together with his brother Caracalla, accompanied his father
  to Britain. He was murdered by Caracalla A.D. 212.

The finest of the altars, standing in the garden of Walton-house, is
here engraved. The thunderbolt of Jupiter adorns one side of it, the
wheel of Nemesis the other. The inscription has been read by Mr. Thomas
Hodgson, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in the following way, after a careful
and learned examination of it, and kindred inscriptions.

[Illustration: Altar to Jupiter, Coh. II. Tungr.]


 To Jupiter, the best and greatest,
 The second cohort of the Tungrians,
 A milliary _regiment_, having a proportionate supply of horse, _and
    consisting of_ citizens of Latium,
 Commanded by Albus
 Severus, pre-
 fect of the Tungrians, _erects this_;
 The work being superintended by Victor Sevrus (or Severus), the

[Sidenote: PETRIANA.]

The Notitia places the ‘Ala Petriana,’ under a prefect, at PETRIANA.
Although two inscriptions belonging to this place mention the second
cohort of the Tungri, none have been found here which name the Ala
Petriana. It is possible that this cohort may have been a part of the
Ala Petriana, but until this point be settled, or some further light
thrown upon the subject, the occurrence of Cambeck-fort[Sidenote:
CAMBECK-FORT.] next in order to AMBOGLANNA, must be regarded as the best
evidence of its being the PETRIANA of the Notitia.

[Illustration: View of Pigeon Crag]


Before crossing the Cambeck-water it may be well to remind the reader,
that the river Gelt, on whose rocky banks the Roman quarrymen have left
lettered memorials of their toil, is about four miles to the south of
this place. With the view of clearly displaying the inscription, which
has frequently been inaccurately engraved, the lithograph opposite to
page 81, has been drawn to a scale which precludes the possibility of
shewing the height of the cliff. The adjoining wood-cut partly supplies
this deficiency; it exhibits another inscription, not of a very
intelligible.[Sidenote: PIGEON-CRAG.] character, on the Pigeon-crag,
which is a little higher up the water, and shews the general character
of the scenery on this beautiful stream.

The distance of these quarries on the Gelt, from the line of the
Barrier, renders it very questionable whether large supplies were
derived from them for the Wall. Hodgson remarks—

  The quarry at Helbeck-scar (the Written-rock) might serve for the
  largest stones for part of the Murus, and the stations at
  Brampton-old-church, and Walton-castlesteads; for the general purpose
  of the Murus, stone, however, could be got in places much nearer than

At the quarries of High and Low Breaks, about a mile and a half north of
the Wall, there are marks of extensive ancient workings; the quarries
are still in use and yield stone of good quality.

The Written-rock will not be easily found by a stranger, but directions
and assistance may generally be obtained from the workmen employed upon
a modern quarry, which is not far from the spot.

[Sidenote: HEADSWOOD.]

We now rejoin the Barrier. The passage of the Cambeck-water seems to
have been guarded with some care. On the eastern margin of the stream,
to the north of the Wall, is an earth-work raised a little above the
general level of the surface, which here is somewhat depressed. Stones,
which do not appear in the contiguous parts, lie scattered about the
place. These circumstances seem to favour the idea of there having been
some additional fortification in this part. The western bank of the
stream consists of a bold breastwork of red-sandstone, rising about
fifty feet above the level of the water. The fosse of the Wall has been
deeply cut into this rock; it still remains in a state of great
perfection. The old drove-road between Newcastle and Carlisle, which,
for some distance west of this, runs upon the site of the Wall, or close
by it, here avails itself of the fosse as a means of climbing the bank.
The ditch of the Vallum is also discernible. The farm-house of Beck is
partially constructed of Roman stones, and on the east side of the
rivulet of Beck a few stones of the Wall are in their original
situation. Headswood, as its name implies, occupies a commanding
position. The ditch of the Vallum is at this place peculiarly bold, and
is about thirty-five yards distant from the Wall. The fosse of the Wall
[Illustration: Mural Stone, Leg. II. Aug.] bends round an object which
has the appearance of being an additional fortification outside the
Wall. At the west end of Newtown-of-Irthington are the remains of a
large mile-castle; the stones still lie in confusion upon the site. The
stone represented in the margin was found at this place. We next come to
White-flat, where the rubble of the foundation of the Wall is very
discernible and the ditch very deep. Hurtleton (the town of strife) is
next reached; both lines of fosse are distinct and in close contiguity.

In the corner of a field, called Chapel-field, there are evident signs
of a mile-castle; the plough, however, has been drawn over the site. The
two works, which between White-flat and this point have approached each
other very closely, now quickly diverge, the Wall bending to the north.

[Sidenote: IRTHINGTON.]

The village of Irthington is a little to the south of the Barrier. Here
formerly stood one of the strongholds of the powerful Norman family of
De Vallibus; the building is now entirely removed, its site being
occupied by the Nook, the residence of Robert Bell, esq. The foundations
of some of its walls have recently been exposed. The keep probably
occupied a lofty earthen mound which is now crowned with thriving trees.
The parish church has recently been renewed with much skill and taste.
The old fabric was entirely built of Roman wall-stones. In the course of
its restoration, a striking proof of the disturbed state of the border
district in the middle ages was disclosed; a number of skeletons,
confusedly thrown together, being found buried within its area. The
church, originally a Transition-Norman building, had evidently at some
period after its erection, been contracted in its dimensions by the
rejection of the side aisles. The outer walls consisted of the original
columns of the aisles, filled up very roughly with common rubble. The
columns bore decided marks of fire. The neighbouring parish church of
Kirklinton, which has also been recently rebuilt, exhibited similar
appearances. On taking down the old tower, which was a fortified
stronghold, the bony remnants of upwards of sixty bodies were found in a
space of not more than five yards square; others were found in confused
masses in other parts. [Sidenote: BORDER STRIFE.] The probable
explanation of these circumstances is this:—After the battle of
Bannockburn, the Scottish forces, flushed with success, entered England,
and the inhabitants, unable to withstand them, fled to the churches for
protection. But neither the strength of the buildings nor their supposed
sanctity could yield them effectual succour; the miserable people were
slain, and their bodies left among the smouldering ruins. Those of their
countrymen who escaped, buried them in a hasty manner upon the spot.
When the desolated district had recovered energy enough to repair the
churches, its utmost efforts were barely sufficient to enclose those
parts which had, by their solidity, withstood the fire; and the reduced
population required nothing more.

The coins of Edw.I. and II. are comparatively abundant in this district,
the armies of that monarch and his immediate successors, frequently
taking the western route, in their marches to and from Scotland.

Rejoining the Wall, we meet, when within a quarter of a mile of
Old-wall, with the site of a mile-castle. The ruins of the building
slightly raise it above the general level, and prevent the plough biting
into it. The road formerly deviated from its track to go round it. An
altar, an urn, and several coins of Edward I., have been found in it. In
the buildings at Old-wall, many Roman stones will be noticed, and the
earth-works of both lines of the Barrier may be traced. The Wall is
entirely uprooted; upwards of six hundred cart-loads of stones, within
the recollection of the inhabitants, have been taken from it in this
immediate vicinity.

Between this point and Stanwix, the works may be traced with tolerable
satisfaction, an ancient drove-road running upon the site of the Wall
for the greater part of the way.

[Sidenote: BLEATARN.]

At Bleatarn (blue tarn or lake), on the south side of the Wall, is a
mound of earth resembling an elongated barrow; between this earth-work
and the Wall, is a marshy hollow, which is said to have formerly been
the bed of a lake or tarn. The Vallum takes a sweep to avoid this
morass, and at its greatest distance is removed from the Wall about two
hundred and twenty yards.

About half-a-mile south from Bleatarn, is the site of a Roman camp,
which Horsley conceived to be one of the stations _per lineam Valli_; it
is now called Watch-cross. If it be a station of this class, and if the
order in which the stations are arranged in the Notitia exactly
corresponds with their consecutive positions in reality, the name of it
was ABALLABA, which was garrisoned by a _numerus_ or troop of Moors,
under a prefect. There is, however, reason to doubt whether this was a
stationary camp at all, as will presently appear.

As already remarked, no inscribed stones have been found to identify any
of the stations west of AMBOGLANNA with the list given in the Notitia.
Even though this difficulty respecting Watch-cross had not occurred, to
go on appropriating the names of the Notitia, station after station,
guided solely by the slender thread of the order of their succession,
would be a hazardous undertaking, and is rendered still more so by the
uncertainty existing as to those which are, and which are not,
_stationes per lineam Valli_. In our journey from this point westward,
the stations will, therefore, be designated by their modern names; when
the Latin names are added, it is to be understood that they are

[Sidenote: WATCH-CROSS.]

_WATCH-CROSS._—Horsley gives the following account of this station:—

  A little detached from the wall, to the south, is a Roman fort, of
  about four chains and an half square, called Watch-cross; and as I was
  assured by the country people, and have had it since further
  confirmed, a military way has gone near it, or between it and the
  military way belonging to the Wall; for they often plough up paving
  stones here, and think part of the highway to Brampton to be upon it.
  This is the least station on the line of the Wall, and is as usual,
  plundered of its stones, as that at Burgh and Drumburgh. However, the
  ramparts and ditches are very fair and visible.

The common on which it stood having been enclosed about seventy years
ago, and brought into cultivation, all traces of the camp have been
obliterated. On a careful examination of its site, I failed to discover
any fragments of Roman pottery, or other marks of Roman occupation. In
those parts of Cumberland where the soil is not naturally stony, the
site of a mile-castle or station, which has been brought into
cultivation, may often be distinguished by the occurrence in that
particular spot of numerous fragments of freestone. No such appearance
here presents itself. The person who farms the ground says it is of
better quality than the surrounding land; still, it does not seem to
possess the peculiar fertility of a spot that has at any period for a
length of time been the resort of a crowded population. Hutchinson
describes ‘the whole ground-plot’ as being covered, in his day, ‘with a
low growth of heath;’ the sites of all the other cities of the Wall are
too replete with animal remains to yield, even unaided by cultivation,
so coarse a product. I am therefore strongly disposed to think, with
Hodgson, that it was a mere summer encampment. The spot has been well
chosen; for, though not greatly elevated, it has an extensive prospect.
Horsley himself had some doubts of the propriety of admitting it into
the rank of a stationary camp, ‘by reason of its being so small, and
having no remains of stone walls.’ The distance, however, between
Cambeck-fort and Stanwix, which is rather greater than that between any
other two stations, induced him to give it this position.

From Bleatarn the antiquary will, with some care, be able to trace the
Barrier by Wall-head, Walby, and Wall-foot, to Tarraby. From this
village to Stanwix, a rural road runs upon the foundations of the Wall;
the ditch on its north side, which within living memory was very boldly
marked, although partially filled up is yet distinctly traceable.

[Sidenote: STANWIX.]

_STANWIX._—The church and church-yard of Stanwix occupy the site of the
station which guarded the northern bank of the Eden. Recent explorations
have displayed distinct remains of ancient edifices. In pulling down the
old church, to make way for the present structure, a very fine figure of
Victory, somewhat mutilated, was disclosed, which is now in the museum
at Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The name of the place indicates, that whilst the
dwellings in the vicinity were made of clay, as many of them are yet, by
reason of the plunder of the Roman station, it could boast of being a
_town of stones_. The situation is one of great beauty. To the east, at
a considerable distance, the Nine-nicks of Thirlwall rear their rugged
peaks; and to the south and south-west, appear the beautiful grounds of
Rickerby-house, the river Eden permeating a rich and well-cultivated
country, the ancient city of Carlisle crowned with its venerable
cathedral, and the long vista of country terminating in the Cumbrian

Between the station and the north bank of the river Eden, the fosse of
the Wall is distinctly marked, and a hollowed line, formed by the
excavation of the foundation of the Wall itself, shews its track to the
water’s edge, near to the Hyssop-holme-well. We are told by Camden—

  That the Wall passed the river over against the castle—where in the
  very channel, the remains of it, namely, the great stones, appear to
  this day.

That the Wall, on the other side of the river, clambered up that part of
the castle-bank which projects most boldly forward, is rendered probable
by the appearance of masonry, resembling its foundations, beneath the
grassy surface. At this point, however, we lose all trace of the great
structure until we get beyond the boundaries of the famous Border city
of the West.

[Sidenote: CARLISLE.]

All antiquaries agree that Carlisle is the LUGUVALLIUM of the Romans. It
is not improbable that it was one of Agricola’s forts. It is not named
in the list of the stations _per lineam Valli_ given in the Notitia. The
Notitia mentions only the forts having separate garrisons, and it is
probable that after the erection of the camp at Stanwix, LUGUVALLIUM
became subordinate to that camp, and had no distinct garrison, which
will account for its omission.

Whitaker says LUGUVALLIUM signifies, in the ancient Celtic, the fort
upon the Waters.

Extensive remains of the ancient city lie beneath the modern Carlisle;
seldom is the ground penetrated to any considerable depth without
disclosing ancient masonry, Samian ware, and Roman coins.

Carlisle contains two interesting structures of the mediæval period—the
castle and the cathedral. The keep of the castle is a good specimen of
the Norman donjon, though some parts of it have been modernized. On the
walls and door of one of its chambers, used as a prison in the ‘Fifteen’
and the ‘Forty-five,’ are to be seen the coats of arms, the devices, and
marks of the ‘sorrowful sighings,’ of the unhappy rebels, who beguiled
their wretched hours in carving them. The cathedral exhibits some
interesting specimens of the Norman as well as later styles. Its east
window, which is of the decorated period, is the finest in the kingdom,
with the exception, perhaps, of the west window at York.

About a quarter of a mile beyond the canal basin, and nearly midway
between the canal and the river, the track of the Wall may again be
discerned. Owing to the difficulty of entirely uprooting it, its
foundations have been suffered to remain; they form a cart-road which is
used for farm purposes. A little farther on, the plough has won the day,
and a uniform green sward or luxuriant harvest baffles our research.

[Illustration: Altar—ob res trans vallum prospere gestas]

[Sidenote: KIRK-ANDREWS.]

A turf-covered mound on the east side of the church of Kirk-andrews, is
occasioned by a portion of the ruins of the Wall. In the village is
preserved the altar of which the wood-cut gives a representation. It was
found at Kirk-steads, about a mile south of the Wall, and bears marks of
having been cut down to suit the purpose of some comparatively modern
builder. The focus of the altar is unusually large; the boldness of the
lettering indicates an early date. It may be read—

                 L[VCIVS] IVNIVS VIC-
                 TORINVS ET (?)
                 C[AIVS] AELIANVS LEG[ATI]
                 P[IÆ] F[IDELIS] OB RES TRANS
                 VALLVM PRO-
                 SPERE GESTAS.

         Lucius Junius Vic-
         torinus, and
         Caius Ælianus, Augustal legates
         Of the sixth legion, victorious,
         Pious, and faithful, on account of achievements beyond
         The Wall pros-
         perously performed.

This is a vivid memorial of deeds of common occurrence during the period
of Roman occupation. The original possessors of the isthmus, driven from
their homes, and forced to seek an asylum in the hills to the north of
the Wall, would be accounted the lawful prey of the aggressor.

          The gates of mercy shall be all shut up;
          And the fleshed soldier,—rough and hard of heart,—
          In liberty of bloody hand, shall range
          With conscience wide as hell; mowing like grass
          Your fresh fair virgins and your flowering infants.

Whilst the Roman warrior gloated over his success, and feasted, and
thanked his gods, and recorded his exploits on the votive stone, the
routed remnants of the Caledonian bands would mourn over their
slaughtered comrades and desolated home-steads.

The great scarcity of stone in the western part of Cumberland has
rendered the Wall a valuable quarry to the inhabitants from time
immemorial. In our future progress we shall see little of it, except in
the buildings contiguous to its site. The heart of the antiquary will,
however, occasionally be gladdened by the recognition of the lines of
the earth-works—their slightly elevated mounds appearing to his eager
gaze scarcely less beautiful than the moulded forms produced by the
genius of the sculptor, in districts more rich than this, in the remains
of antiquity.

The Vallum appears to have gone nearly due west, along the valley, from
Kirk-andrews to Burgh; the Wall proceeds, after its usual manner, from
eminence to eminence.


_BURGH-UPON-SANDS_ is the next station. In Horsley’s day the remains of
its ramparts were to be seen at a place called the Old-castle, a little
to the east of the church. He says—

  On the west side these remains are most distinct, being about six
  chains in length. And Severus’s Wall seems to have formed the north
  rampart of the station. I was assured by the person to whom the field
  belonged, that stones were often ploughed up in it, and lime with the
  stones. Urns have also frequently been found here. I saw, besides an
  imperfect inscription, two Roman altars lying at a door in the town,
  but neither sculptures nor inscriptions are now visible upon them.
  ...... If besides all this, we consider the distance from the last
  station at Stanwix, I think it can admit of no doubt but there must
  have been a station here, though most of its ramparts are now
  levelled, the field having been in tillage many years. I shall only
  further add, that it was very proper to have a station at each end of
  the marsh, which, if the water flowed as high as some believe, would
  make a kind of bay.

At present, little meets the eye of the inquirer, to inform him of the
spot where the station stood, but when the surface of the ground is
broken, the traces of a Roman city are still sufficiently distinct. The
church-yard is filled with fragments of red sandstone blocks. At the
depth of two feet, it contains several distinct lines of foundations.
Entire ‘lachrymatory’ vessels and fragments of unglazed jars and urns
have repeatedly been dug up. A small bronze figure was recently found.
When the canal was cut, blocks of stone, blackened by smoke, were dug
out of the soil to the south-east of the church.

A few inscribed stones have been found since Horsley’s day, but none of
them name the cohort which was stationed in the camp. Hence we have no
means of knowing whether Watch-cross has been rightly thrown out of the
list of ‘stations along the line,’ and whether Burgh is, as Horsley
states it to be, the AXELODUNUM of the Notitia, or CONGAVATA, according
to the opinion of Hodgson.

In the absence of more decided remains of the camp or Wall, an
examination of the church of this long straggling town will reward the
attention of the antiquary. It is a good specimen of the fortified
Border churches. It has served the threefold purpose of a church, a
fortress, and a prison.

  In case of an inroad from the Scottish coast, the cattle appear to
  have been shut up in the body of the church, and the inhabitants to
  have had recourse to the large embattled tower at its western end. The
  only entrance to this tower is from the inside of the church, and it
  is secured by a ponderous iron door, fastening with two large bolts.
  The walls of the tower are seven feet thick. Its lowest apartment is a
  vaulted chamber, lighted by three arrow-slits. At the south angle is a
  spiral stone staircase, leading to two upper chambers.

Many of the stones of which the church is built, are Roman, and exhibit
reticulated tooling.


Near to Burgh is the site on which the castle of sir Hugh de Morville,
one of the murderers of Thomas à Becket, formerly stood. The adjoining
field is called—‘Hang-man-tree,’ doubtless because my lord had his
gallows here, always ready for use. A neighbouring enclosure bears a
designation not less ominous—‘Spill-blood-holm.’ But the most
interesting historical memorial which the neighbourhood of Burgh
affords, is the monument to king Edward I., which stands on the marsh.

  Longshanks had marshalled his army: his numerous host lay encamped
  upon the sandy flat on the north of the town: the waters of the Solway
  alone separated him from the objects of his vengeance. Here the mighty
  Edward was called to enter into conflict with an enemy whom he had
  often braved on the battle-field, but who was now to approach him by a
  new method of assault. In this struggle, his valour availed him
  nothing, his chivalrous hosts could yield him no aid, and no devoted
  Eleanor was there to abstract from his veins the subtle poison which
  the king of terrors had infused. On Burgh-marsh the ‘ruthless king’
  breathed his last. A monument, represented in the vignette at the
  close of this part, marks the spot.


Another structure, on the opposite side of the Firth, may be noticed by
the traveller. The history of the ‘Tower of Repentance’ is strikingly
illustrative of the disordered state of society in this district before
the union of the two kingdoms.

  A chieftain from the northern side having made a successful inroad
  into the English border, was crossing the Solway on his return, laden
  with booty, when a sudden storm arose. In order to lighten his
  labouring vessel, he threw his prisoners overboard in preference to
  the cattle which he had stolen. The danger past, he was smitten with
  remorse. In order to make such amends as he could, he built a
  beacon-tower which overlooks the Solway, and to this day is called the
  Tower of Repentance. Tradition avers that the penitent himself carried
  all the stones used in its erection to the top of the hill. It is not
  far from the town of Ecclefechan.

In passing along the village of Burgh, the observing visitor will notice
the large number of boulder-stones, some of them half a ton in weight,
which are strewed over the ground; several of them have been used in
forming the foundations of the cottages. They are of granite, and in
some distant age have been wrenched from the summit of Criffel, the hill
which lends so much beauty to the landscape on the northern side of the

On the western side of the village of Dykesfield, which we next
encounter, is a common that contains several earthen ramparts and
temporary camps.

Between Dykesfield and the next station, Drumburgh, an extensive marsh
occurs, which even now is occasionally overflowed by the waters of the
Solway. Hodgson inclines to the belief, that the Wall ran directly
across it. Horsley, however, took a different view of the subject.

  From hence to Drumburgh Castle no vestige of the Wall is to be seen;
  though I think it certain that the Wall did not pass through the
  marsh, but by Boustead-hill and Easton, for both tradition and matter
  of fact favour this course of it. The country people often strike upon
  the Wall, and could tell exactly several places through which, by this
  means, they knew it had passed, and always by the side of the marsh.
  Besides it is no way reasonable to suppose that the Romans would build
  their Wall within tide-mark.

[Sidenote: EASTON-MARSH.]

After careful inquiry, I am disposed to adopt Horsley’s view; even now,
stones which appear to be Wall-stones, are turned up by the operations
of the husbandmen in the line which the Wall is supposed to have taken
by Boustead and Easton. It need not be a subject of surprise, that the
Wall in this district has been so thoroughly removed, as there is no
quarry within a convenient distance, and the Wall, therefore, has been
the source from which the inhabitants of the country have drawn their
supply of building stones. The Romans seem to have gone to Howrigg
quarry, which is not less than eight miles south of the Barrier, for
their facing-stones; those which they used for the interior of the Wall
correspond in character with the proceeds of Stone-pot-scar, a quarry on
the north shore of the Solway.

We must now part company with the Vallum. This wonderful earth-work,
which has outlived the accidents of seventeen centuries, and which we
have traced, with but few interruptions, from the modern representative
of PONS ÆLII to this point, is not observed going beyond it. As the
Vallum falls short of the Wall at its eastern extremity by about four
miles, so it does at its western. Horsley, who wrote more than a century
ago, and who, consequently, had better opportunities of judging than we
can now have, says—

  Whether Hadrian’s work (the Vallum) has been continued any further
  than this marsh, or to the water-side beyond Drumburgh, is doubtful.
  But I am pretty confident that it was not carried on so far as the
  Wall of Severus at this end, any more than at the other. And I can by
  no means yield to Mr. Gordon’s sentiments, that the one, for a good
  space at each end, was built upon the foundation of the other.
  However, it is certain that from the side of the marsh to the west end
  of the Wall there is no appearance of Hadrian’s work, or any thing
  belonging to it.

[Sidenote: DRUMBURGH.]

_DRUMBURGH_ contains distinct remains of a small stationary camp. This,
if Watch-cross be rejected, was the sixteenth station of the Wall, and
consequently, the AXELODUNUM of the Notitia, which was garrisoned by the
first cohort of the Spaniards. The camp is on the grounds of Richard
Lawson, esq. The ramparts are well defined, as well as the ditch which
surrounds them. The whole area is covered with a luxuriant sward, and
its northern margin is shaded by some thriving ash-trees. No portion of
the Wall remains in its vicinity, but its present proprietor remembers
witnessing the removal of the foundation. The northern rampart of the
station did not come up to the Wall, but was removed a few yards from
it; probably the military way ran between the station and the Wall. The
station at Barr-hill, on the Antonine Wall, is similarly situated.

South of the station is a well, enclosed by a circular wall of Roman
masonry. It is still in use, though the water is drawn from it by a

The mediæval castle, of which there are considerable remains, is a very
fine specimen of the ancient fortified manor-house. It is built of Roman
stones. Extensive alterations were made upon it in the reign of Henry
VIII. The habitable part of it is now occupied as a farm-house.

The tranquillity of this region was not always what it now is.

  Standing on the northern rampart of the station, Mr. Lawson, the aged
  proprietor, directed the attention of the Pilgrim-party of 1849 to a
  small cottage on the opposite shore. ‘There,’ said he, ‘lived a
  Scottish reaver, who in the days of my grandfather made, on nineteen
  successive Easter-eves, a successful foray on the English side. A
  twentieth time he prepared to go; his family remonstrated, he however
  persisted, saying that this should be his last attempt. Our people
  were prepared for him and slew him.’ Some of the party asked ‘what
  notice did the law take of the transaction?’ 'None; the law which
  could not protect a man, would not punish him for taking the law into
  his own hands.'

Now, nearly arrived at the western extremity of the great Barrier, we
meet with but few traces of its characteristic masonry; enough, however,
remains to lure us pleasantly to our journey’s end.

In cutting the canal from Carlisle to the Solway Firth, in 1823, a
prostrate forest of oak was discovered, which belonged to an age
anterior to that of Hadrian. The engineer of the canal says—


  A subterraneous forest was cut through in the excavation of the canal,
  near the banks of the Solway Firth, about half a mile north-west of
  the village of Glasson, and extending into Kirklands. The trees were
  all prostrate, and they had fallen, with little deviation, in a
  northerly direction, or a little eastward of it.—Some short trunks, of
  two or three feet in height, were in the position of their natural
  growth; but although the trees, with the exception of their alburnum
  and all the branches, were perfectly sound, yet the extremity of the
  trunks, whether fallen or standing, were so rugged, that it was not
  discoverable whether the trees had been cut down, or had fallen by a
  violent storm. The level upon which the trunks lay, was a little below
  that of high tides, and from eight to ten feet below the surface of
  the ground they were embedded in; which, excepting the superficial
  soil, is a soft blue clay, having the appearance of marine
  alluvion.... Although the precise period when this forest fell is not
  ascertainable, there is a positive proof that it must have been long
  prior to the building of the Wall because the foundations of the Wall
  passed obliquely over it, and lay three or four feet above the level
  of the trees.—_Arch. Æl._ ii. 117.

The forest extends over a considerable tract of ground. It is
probable that it was overthrown by a tempest from the south or
south-west, at a time when the sea occupied a lower level than it
does at present. The wood was so sound, that it was used in common
with other oak timber in forming the jetties at the outlet of the
canal into the Solway Firth. The president’s chair of the Society of
Antiquaries, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, is formed of it.

At Port-Carlisle is a mound resembling an ancient British barrow, called
Fisher’s-cross. About half-a-mile to the westward of it is another which
has been somewhat encroached upon by the road that runs along the margin
of the Solway, and is denominated Knock’s-cross. The proverb is common
throughout Cumberland, 'As old as Knock’s-cross.'

In the front of the Steam-packet hotel, Port-Carlisle, is built up the
fragment of a small Roman altar, bearing the inscription, SVIS MATRIBVS.
It is one of the numerous instances that we meet with, along the line of
the Wall, of altars dedicated to the _Deæ Matres_.

[Sidenote: BOWNESS.]

Between Port-Carlisle and Bowness, the site of the Wall may be traced
nearly the whole way; not unfrequently the foundations of it and its
fosse may be discerned. In one place some large stones resembling those
used in forming the gateways of the mile-castles will be noticed. In
Brand’s day some considerable portions of the Wall remained, between
these points. He says—

  About three quarters of a mile to the east of Bowness, some fragments
  of Severus’ Wall remain, of a great height; on measuring one of them,
  we found it to be about eight feet high; it was bound and overgrown
  with ivy in a most picturesque manner. The facing-stones on both sides
  have been taken away.

On my first visit to Bowness, I saw a portion of it as Hodgson describes

  It is six feet high. Its rugged and weathered core, still hard as a
  rock, is thickly bearded with sloe-thorn and hazel, and mantled below
  with ivy and honey-suckle.

This interesting object has been entirely removed, which is the more to
be regretted, as no advantage has been gained by its destruction; it
served as a fence between two fields.


  H. Burdon Richardson, Delt.   John Storey Lith.


_BOWNESS_ is the name of the low, bow-shaped ness, or peninsula, at the
extreme point of the left bank of the Solway Firth. It is slightly
elevated above the surrounding country, as is plainly seen when it is
viewed from a distance. A little to the east of the site of the station,
the Solway is easily fordable at low water; but no one, in the memory of
the inhabitants of these parts, has forded the estuary westward of the
town. This circumstance would render Bowness a fit place at which to
terminate the Barrier Wall. With difficulty the antiquary detects some
slight traces of the walls of the station, its southern lines near the
church being those which are most apparent. No quarry being within
several miles of the spot, the Wall and station have furnished the
materials of which the church and most of the habitations of the town
are composed. A small altar built up in the front of a barn in the
principal street, has an inscription importing that it was dedicated to
Jupiter the best and greatest, by Sulpicius Secundianus, the tribune of
the cohort for the safety of our lords, the emperors Galbus and

Bowness may be the GABROSENTUM of the Notitia; Horsley reckoning
Watch-cross among the stations of the line, conceives it to be

Over that beautiful expanse of waters bounded by the Criffel and other
Dumfriesshire hills, which we see from the somewhat elevated beach that
has formed the northern margin of the station, the eye of the Roman
sentinel must often have listlessly rolled, as he paced his tedious
hours away. The memory of Roman and Caledonian feuds gives to the
picture, as we now behold it, a charm enhanced by contrast with the
state of things which existed in ancient days. [Sidenote: CHANGE OF
TIMES.]The hills have the aspect which they formerly bore, the waters of
the Solway ebb and flow as they were wont, the same clear sky spans the
vault of heaven which was outstretched in Roman days;—but then, the
occupants of the opposite shores scowled upon each other with deadly
hate, and planned the means of mutual slaughter. Stealthily they cast
the net and threw the leister into the margin of the sea, or when they
openly appeared upon the waters, it was in galleys armed for sanguinary
aggression;—now, with each returning tide, the fisherman plies his
peaceful trade, fearless of harm, and the inhabitants of both the
northern and the southern shore hail each other as friends and

[Illustration: Monument to Edward I.]


Footnote 54:

  He who has the heart of a pilgrim ‘_per lineam Valli_,’ will not fail
  to accompany the author, while he attempts, at the very commencement
  of his local peregrination, to pay a tribute of respect to three
  departed worthies who made the Wall their especial study.

  JOHN HORSLEY was the first and mightiest of the three—is it too much
  to say that he was the father of the science of Archæology? Born in an
  unknown locality of this county, receiving his elementary education at
  Newcastle, his academical at Edinburgh, he spent the greater portion
  of his life as the pastor of a Presbyterian congregation in Morpeth.
  His tastes, and great familiarity with the classics, induced him to
  devote his leisure hours to the study of the antiquities of
  Northumberland. Had he conceived that the Britannia Romana would have
  cost him one-third of the time which its execution required, the world
  would never have seen it. Having embarked in the undertaking, he felt
  it his duty to make it as good as he could. How severe his toils, how
  great his pecuniary sacrifices, how ardent his aspirations after
  emancipation from his self-imposed task, in order that he might
  entirely devote himself to his sacred calling, who shall tell? The
  thought that his flock might eventually be no losers, that his family
  and his own fair fame might gain by the enterprise, buoyed him up in
  his course. On 2 Jan. 1731-2, he put the finishing stroke to his
  labours, the dedication of his work bearing that date. Now he might
  hope to reap the fruits of his toils—the enjoyment of rest, such as
  the wearied only know, the congratulations of friends, the approbation
  of the learned, the replenishment of his exhausted means. None of
  these fruits he enjoyed. He can scarcely have had the satisfaction of
  casting his eyes upon a completed copy of his work. The ink of his
  dedication was hardly dry when he was summoned to the unseen world.
  Respecting him who recorded the mighty doings of the Romans in
  Britain, the parish clerk of Morpeth made the following entry in the
  church-yard calendar:—Buried,

                                  ‘_1731-2, Jan. 15_, Mr. John Horsley.’

  ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’ As regards the honours or
  enjoyments of this world, he died an utterly unrequited man. Even of
  that bubble, posthumous fame, an attempt was made to rob him.
  Warburton, in his Vallum Romanum, transfers Horsley ‘in bulk’ to his
  pages—he even copies, without alteration, the opinions which Horsley
  expresses in the first person. The honest Hutton often quotes the
  ‘judicious Warburton,’ little knowing whose the feathers are which he
  so justly admires. The precise spot where his remains rest is unknown.
  He whose lot it was to interpret, after the lapse of many centuries,
  the throbbings of natural affection over departed relatives in the
  heathen breast, had no one to erect over him, though a Christian
  minister, a memorial that should outlive a single century. Even the
  parish clerk, in his attachment to the altar and the throne, denies
  him, in the sepulchral register, the title which courtesy, at least,
  would have accorded him. _Requiescat in pace!_

  The Rev. ANTHONY HEDLEY, was also a native of Northumberland; he was a
  man of literary tastes, and considerable antiquarian acquirements. He
  entered public life as curate of Hexham, where his preaching was that
  of a Boanerges. He subsequently held some temporary appointments at
  Whelpington, Newcastle, and Whitfield. Having, however, actively
  espoused the cause of that political body, who, until lord Grey became
  premier, had no patronage to bestow, it was his lot to sigh in vain
  for a summons to active occupation in the work which he loved. When
  the party whom he had long and conscientiously served, came into
  office, neglect was his portion. One of the original members of the
  Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, he did much to promote
  the study of primæval archæology in the fruitful region traversed by
  the Wall. Biased by his taste for antiquities, he was led to select,
  as his abode for life’s evening, the beautiful valley of the Chineley
  Burn. The rural hall arose at his bidding, nearly every stone of which
  was chiseled by Roman hands. The milliary which told to Hadrian’s
  soldiers that another mile had been traversed, stood by his barn. The
  station of VINDOLANA was in his grounds—many beautiful altars and
  other important reliques had he dug out of it—he could tell where the
  prætorium stood, where the standards were deposited, where every
  soldier slept. Scarcely were all the arrangements for his comfortable
  residence at Chesterholm made, when death seized him as its victim.
  Imprudently superintending, whilst somewhat indisposed, the exhumation
  of an urn in the station, his mortal part was a few days afterwards
  deposited in the church-yard at Beltingham. He died in 1835, and his
  beautiful abode has since remained desolate.

  Westmoreland has the honour of giving birth to the Rev. JOHN HODGSON,
  but Northumberland enjoyed the advantage of his youthful and maturer
  labours. Successively curate of Sedgefield, Lanchester, and Heworth,
  and afterwards vicar of Kirkwhelpington, he was shortly before his
  death promoted to the living of Hartburn. He was the chief founder of
  the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and the chief
  contributor to its transactions. His tastes led him to contemplate,
  and an honourable desire to make provision for the education and
  settlement of his family, induced him to begin, a history of
  Northumberland. Seldom have laudable designs been so signally
  defeated. He lived but to complete a part of his task; his health
  failed, and his mind gave way under his excessive labours. His
  fortunes were not bettered by them; ‘I have lived,’ said he, 'to see
  that works of this kind are not suited to the times I live in, perhaps
  to any time. It is not profitable to me—it is not suited to my
  profession—I ought to do my duty in my profession—to take up night and
  day to do it well. Well? no; but as well as good intentions, holy
  zeal, every thought and faculty of my mind fully exerted, could do
  it.' Hodgson paid great attention to the Wall, and its antiquities.
  The last published portion of his history contains a vast mass of
  learned information upon the subject. It is perhaps enough for the
  present author to say, that had not Horsley and Hodgson cleared the
  way before him, he would never have adventured to write a book upon
  the Barrier of the Lower Isthmus. Though he cannot be a Horsley or a
  Hodgson, he hopes he will never prove a Warburton.

Footnote 55:

  Brand conceives that SEGEDUNUM may be derived from the Saxon _secg_, a
  sedge or flag, and _dun_, which is an Anglo-Saxon, as well as a Celtic
  word; this would give, as its meaning—the hill of sedge. If we can
  suppose that any of the Germanic hordes had obtained so complete a
  settlement here, as to give them the power of forming a local
  vocabulary in accordance with their own language prior to the Roman
  occupation of this post, the Saxon origin of the term is by no means
  improbable. In no part of England was an early settlement more likely
  to take place than on the eastern coast of Northumberland, but, after
  all, we must probably assign a later date to the first arrival of our
  Gothic forefathers. If a Saxon derivation be at all admissible,
  another might be suggested: _sige_ is the Anglo-Saxon for victory, and
  _tun_ is town—the town of victory—an appropriate name for a station
  occupied either by Roman or Saxon forces.

Footnote 56:

  This statement I make on the authority of the late Mr. Buddle, who
  said, as I remember, that in his youth he had seen the stones
  extending far into the river.

Footnote 57:

  This place derived its earlier name from being the property, and
  perhaps the suburban residence of John Cosyn, a worthy alderman of
  Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in the seventeenth century. About 1740, sir
  Robert Carre, a London knight, and draper, but also, it is thought, a
  burgess of the northern metropolis, bought Cosyn’s house at Wallsend,
  and thenceforward designated it Carre-ville. The present mansion is,
  with some little impropriety, called Carville-_hall_.

  When I began my inquiries at Wallsend, I had much difficulty in
  ascertaining which was Cousin’s-house. One man told me he had lived
  all his life in Wallsend—sixty years—and had never heard of it. Our
  books still continue to copy from Horsley, and to give us the
  out-of-date information that the Wall began at Cousin’s-house.

Footnote 58:

  In districts where the Wall has been levelled with the earth, a
  foot-path or bridle-road frequently indicates its course. When land
  was of less value than it is now, the farmers, who appropriated the
  stones of the Wall to their own use, were not at the trouble to remove
  its foundation. The stony track, however, afforded a firm road, and
  when the increased value of the ground rendered it worth while to
  bring the whole into cultivation, a right of way had, in many
  instances, been established.

Footnote 59:

  Hodgson, II. iii. 169.

Footnote 60:

  Horsley’s traditionary account was probably derived from the same
  source as Leland’s; and therefore may indicate, not the station wall,
  but the great Wall itself. If, as the excavations made since Horsley’s
  day seem to prove, the Wall crossed obliquely from the south to the
  north side of Collingwood-street, it must have passed over the site of
  St. Nicholas’-church—not to the north of it.

Footnote 61:

    So inviting a post would not escape the notice of the ancient
    British warrior—the appearances Mr. Hodgson describes, are not
    inconsistent with its having been an Ancient-British strong-hold.

Footnote 62:

  Drawn to twice the usual size.

Footnote 63:

  The author, as the leader of the pilgrim-band who traversed the Wall
  in the summer of 1849, used a staff made out of this primeval oak. It
  is now in the Newcastle collection of antiquities.

Footnote 64:

  Tour, iii. 313, quoted by Brand, i. 37.

Footnote 65:

  Brand’s Newcastle, i. 37.

Footnote 66:

  Jerusalem was called after him Ælia Capitolina, and the games at
  Pincum, in Mæsia, Ælia Pincensia.

Footnote 67:

  Smith’s Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

Footnote 68:

  In the possession of the Society of Antiquaries at Somerset-house. The
  wood-cuts are drawn to twice the usual scale.

Footnote 69:

  Baxter, in his glossary, derives it from the ancient British words
  _Pen ual_, the head of the Wall. A comparatively modern village would
  hardly take a Celtic name; besides, although the Roman station has a
  commanding prospect in a military point of view, it is scarcely so
  elevated as to be entitled to the epithet of Pen or Ben; the village
  of Benwell is below it.

Footnote 70:

  History of Manchester, i. 224.

Footnote 71:

  The cottage is still standing in the neighbourhood of Wylam, in which
  George Stephenson first saw the light. Aided, in due time, by his son,
  worthy of such a father, he did more than any other man to elaborate
  our present railway system. The antiquary who has been revelling in
  the associations of the past will scarcely fail, as he looks down from
  his Wall-traversed heights upon the vale which gave birth to such a
  man, to give for a moment the reins to his imagination, and suffering
  his mind to penetrate the mists of futurity, ruminate upon the changes
  which the efforts of the Stephensons are destined to produce, not only
  in the physical, but in the moral aspect of society.

Footnote 72:

  Derived from wall and _botle_, the Saxon for an abode.

Footnote 73:

  Anciently written Throcklow. Low, or Law, is applied either to a low,
  round-topped eminence, or an artificial mound.

Footnote 74:

  Hodgson, II. iii. 178.

Footnote 75:

  Britannia Romana, 139.

Footnote 76:

  Note in Lappenberg’s Anglo-Saxon Kings, i. 91.

Footnote 77:

  The road leaves the Wall here, and keeps to the right of the hill. The
  north side of the hill is planted with trees, and it is interesting to
  notice in the summit of the plantation, a dip, corresponding to the
  depression of the fosse of the Wall.

Footnote 78:

  Unable to resist the positive testimony of an intelligent eye-witness,
  I was, at first, disposed to think that he had included in his
  measurement some chamber on the inside of the station wall. I am now
  prepared to receive the statement without deduction. Some recent
  excavations at Risingham have laid bare a part of the curtain wall
  which has been built double, the intervening space, or chamber, being
  filled up with rubble and rubbish run together with lime, so as to
  form a solid mass of masonry of considerable thickness. The object of
  this arrangement may have been, to form a solid, elevated platform,
  for the use of the soldiery.

Footnote 79:

  Both Horsley and Lingard had previously noticed it. Horsley says he
  was told by a countryman that ‘it was what the speaking trumpet was
  laid in.’

Footnote 80:

  The aqueduct was not traced on the Halton side of the valley, so that
  the precise point where it joined the station is not known; it is now
  entirely removed.

Footnote 81:

  Several of the sculptures at Matfen were sent to Alnwick Castle.
  Wallis uses the term, ‘centurial stone,’ very loosely, applying it
  even to the large Milking-gap slab.

Footnote 82:

  Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, b. III. ch. ii. Giles’s translation.

Footnote 83:

  Although a walk of a few minutes will bring the traveller, who knows
  exactly whither to bend his steps, to this curious relic, a stranger
  may fruitlessly spend much time in examining the many low scars which
  diversify the surface of the fell. It is a deeply interesting object.

Footnote 84:

  The cramps seem to have been of various kinds. Some authors speak of
  iron cramps. One antiquary, I know, spent a livelong summer’s day
  knee-deep in the water, extracting one which proved to be entirely of
  lead. A. cramp, of very curious form and structure, taken from this
  bridge, is preserved in the museum at Chesters, and is figured Plate
  VII. fig. 1.; it seems to have been triply dove-tailed; the substance
  of it is iron, but it has been coated all over to the thickness of
  one-eighth of an inch with lead. The iron would give the instrument
  tenacity, and the lead protect the more corrosive metal from
  oxidization; truly the Romans built for perpetuity.

Footnote 85:

  History of Northumberland, II. iii. 180.

Footnote 86:

  The initial L, page 103, is formed of two of these Roman balusters.
  The lower one is at Chesters, the upright one at Chesterholm.

Footnote 87:

  The section of the hypocaust wall on Plate III is taken from this
  example, and shews the hanging floor.

Footnote 88:

  See an interesting ‘Account of an Excavation recently made within the
  Roman Station at CILURNUM, by John Clayton, esq.’ in the Archæologia
  Æliana, iii. 142.

Footnote 89:

  The improved method of making draining-tiles for agricultural uses has
  suggested the formation of hollow bricks for building purposes. A
  floor might be paved and side-walls formed of these, so as readily to
  admit of the circulation of air throughout the whole substance of the
  apartment, and a handful of coke or charcoal, placed at the entrance
  of the flue, would effectually warm the whole. Specimens of bricks of
  this kind, remarkably strong, and ingeniously contrived for securely
  locking into one another, are before me, for which I am indebted to
  Robert Rawlinson, esq., after whose design they were formed. The Latin
  comedy represents the miser begrudging the smoke that escaped from his
  chimney—well may the benevolent man regret that whilst his poor
  neighbours are bending under the chills of winter, three-fourths of
  the heat generated in his parlour-grate is absolutely wasted.

Footnote 90:

  Now at Alnwick-castle.

Footnote 91:

  The words printed in italics have been supplied from contemporaneous
  inscriptions; they can scarcely be said to be conjectural readings.

Footnote 92:

  Soldiers who by their good conduct had earned a double allowance of
  corn or pay.

Footnote 93:

  Hodgson learnedly explains this inscription—Arch. Æl. i. 128.

Footnote 94:

  Preserved in the interesting collection at Chesters.

Footnote 95:

  This peculiar term is probably derived from the Saxon _Seuch_, a
  furrow or fosse, and _Shiel_, a hut for those who have the care of
  cattle, and thus signifies, the cottage by the fosse.

Footnote 96:

  It is reported in the neighbourhood, that Mrs. Spearman having dreamt
  that she found a rich hoard of treasure among the ruins of the castle,
  made diligent search for it, but without success. When the castle was
  removed, however, the farmer obtained a valuable deposit of mediæval

Footnote 97:

  Pliny’s Natural History, lib. vii. c. 2, q.

Footnote 98:

    Hodgson’s Northumberland, II., iii., 287.

Footnote 99:

  The country being depopulated, lands once in tillage, again became
  wastes. The forests being partially destroyed, either by fire or the
  axe, the streams which used to permeate the low-grounds were arrested
  in their course by prostrate trunks and branches, and gave rise to
  extensive morasses. In the bogs of the district we are now
  considering, immense quantities of large oak and birch timber, as well
  as of oak leaves and hazel nuts, are continually being found. The Dike
  would not, of course, originally, be drawn through swampy ground.

Footnote 100:

  Many of them are preserved in the Museum of the Society of
  Antiquaries, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

Footnote 101:

  Horsley remarks, 'I cannot say that Hadrian’s Vallum has made the
  south rampart of this station at Housesteads, but I think it has
  passed it not much to the south, and seems to have a small turn just
  at the brook, in order to come near, if not up to it.' This looks as
  if Horsley could not altogether throw off the idea that the works
  exhibit unity of design. Hutton notices his inconsistency, and,
  quoting him, (as transferred to the pages of ‘the judicious
  Warburton,’) writes—‘But can a thing be brought near to what does not
  exist! Hadrian was dead long before the appearance of this station.’

Footnote 102:

  This circumstance, together with the fact, that all the camps of the
  Barrier abound in stones reddened with fire, is confirmatory of the
  view, that the buildings supplied with hypocausts were not necessarily

Footnote 103:

  The site of the western gateway is marked by a figure in the
  background of the picture.

Footnote 104:

  Pompeii.—Library of Entertaining Knowledge.

Footnote 105:

  Two of this number, however, would always be on duty, to the very
  great comfort of the eight who remained.

Footnote 106:

  The initial N, page 43, is formed of three nails from Housesteads,
  drawn to three-fourths of the actual size.

Footnote 107:

  The most satisfactory specimen that I have seen is at Carvoran; it has
  apparently been rolled, when in a soft state, on a stone table, and
  presents, from its slightly roughened surface, the degree of opacity
  which plate-glass has before it is polished.

Footnote 108:

  One of them is engraved, on p. 63, the inscription of the other is
  illegible; both are in the Museum at Newcastle.

Footnote 109:

  See also the vignette, page 42. Most of these are still on the ground.
  They are drawn to the usual scale.

Footnote 110:

  Archæologia Æliana, i. 268.

Footnote 111:

  Britannia Romana, 125.

Footnote 112:

  Hutchinson’s Northumberland, i. 60.

Footnote 113:

  A dilapidated building, near the east end of the town, illustrates
  some of the peculiarities of this species of border fortress. The
  lower portion of it was devoted to the reception of cattle—the upper
  was occupied by the family. The floor of the second story consists of
  stone flags laid upon massive beams of oak, very roughly dressed. The
  object of this arrangement has probably been to prevent the enemy, who
  might get possession of the lower part of the building without being
  able to take the upper part by storm, from applying, with much success
  at least, fire to the floor. The stone slates of the roof were
  generally fastened with the bones of sheeps’ trotters—a most durable
  fastening—instead of wooden pins; but, in this instance, the original
  roof has been removed.

Footnote 114:

  Whilst lying in prison, and cheerfully waiting for the time when he
  should be offered, his mind reverted to the scenes and companions of
  his youth. 'My hope was of late that I should have come among you, and
  to have brought with me abundance of Christ’s blessed gospel,
  according to the duty of that office and ministry whereunto among you
  I was chosen, named, and appointed, by the mouth of that our late
  peerless prince, king Edward.' In a letter, in which, as one ‘minding
  to take a far journey,’ he bids farewell to his loving brothers and
  sisters, and his well-beloved and worshipful cousins, he specifies
  many of the well-known localities of this district, then their places
  of residence.

Footnote 115:

  Labbe’s edition of the Notitia Imperii, published at Paris, 1651.

Footnote 116:

  It is preserved in the collection of antiquities at Chesters.

Footnote 117:

    Arch. Æliana, i. 118.

Footnote 118:

  History of the Picts’ or Romano-British Wall, 35.

Footnote 119:

  Hodgson, II. iii. 293.

Footnote 120:

  History of the Picts’ Wall, 35.

Footnote 121:

  The owner of the ground was provoked to obliterate the remains of this
  ancient city, in consequence of the manner in which curiosity-mongers
  (not antiquaries) trespassed on his fields, in their way to the
  station, instead of taking the beaten track.

Footnote 122:

  I have been strongly reminded of these circular pedestals by the
  figures of the columns of the Roman part of Reculver church, given (p.
  198) in Mr. C. Roach Smith’s admirable work on Richborough and
  Reculver. The northern examples are, however, of coarser workmanship
  than the southern seem to have been; the moulding that encircles the
  Carvoran specimen resembles straw-ropes rather than carefully
  fabricated cables.

Footnote 123:

  Thirl, from the Saxon _thirlian_, signifies to pierce, to bore. It is
  generally supposed, that this stronghold derived its name from the
  Scots having broken through the Wall here. It may, however, have taken
  it from the sluice or bridge where the river passed through the Wall;
  thirl, says Hutchinson, being frequently applied to the opening left
  in moor fences for sheep to pass through.

Footnote 124:

  Can it have been derived from the Saxon _bryddes wald_ or _weald_, the
  bird’s forest? The local pronunciation of the name of the place is
  peculiar and rather favours the proposed etymology.

Footnote 125:

  The Wall is at too great a distance from the Vallum to be introduced
  into the section; it is beyond the extra fosse, on the right hand side
  of the wood-cut.

Footnote 126:

  In this locality, the traveller is apt to lose his reckoning, in
  consequence of the number of cottages and villages which are
  denominated ‘Wall.’

Footnote 127:

  Some antiquaries have conceived, that in the last two words of the
  inscription, a reference is made to the emperor Septimius Severus.
  This cannot be admitted, for—1. The emperor’s name would not be placed
  after that of the prefect: 2. The term _instante_ implies the
  discharge of a subordinate duty; for, not to mention other examples,
  the temple of which the CILURNUM slab records the restoration (p.
  186), was built by command of Marius Valerianus, under the
  superintendence of (_instante_) Septimius Nilus: 3. That _princeps_
  was the designation of a subordinate officer in the army, appears not
  only from a collation of other inscriptions, but from the following
  statement of Manutius—'In a legion there were three kinds of foot
  soldiers, _hastati_, _principes_, and _triarii_, and in each there
  were ten centurions, who were called the first _hastatus_, the second
  _hastatus_, the third, and so on, up to the tenth; the first
  _princeps_, the second, and so on; but the _triarii_, the bravest of
  all, were named in a different manner, for they did not call them
  first triarius, but _primipilus_, or _primipili centurio_.'—_Arch.
  Æl._, ii. 88.

  _Principi_ is doubtless intended for the more usual form of the
  ablative, _principe_.




                      ~The Roman Barrier of the
                          Lower Isthmus.~

                                PART IV

Altho’ we have now traversed the line of the mural Barrier from one
extremity to the other, and examined all the camps that lie upon its
track, we have met with but seventeen or eighteen of the twenty-three
that are mentioned in the Notitia as stations _per lineam Valli_.
According to Horsley, five remain to be accounted for, and according to
Hodgson, who rejects Watch-cross, six. These must be sought for among
the stations which support the great Barrier on its northern or southern
side. As the names of the camps north of the Wall have been ascertained
by independent authority, and as they do not correspond[Sidenote:
SECONDARY FORTS OF THE NOTITIA.] with those of the remaining stations of
the Notitia, it is agreed on all hands, that the list is to be completed
from among the fortified places which support the Barrier on the south.
Without dwelling upon the reasons which have guided the conjectures,
(for they are but conjectures at the best), of the great author of the
Britannia Romana, and other antiquaries, in appropriating the remaining
names supplied by the Notitia, it may be sufficient to say, that as the
primary stations, so far as they have been ascertained, are found to be
arranged in that document in regular consecutive order, beginning at the
eastern extremity of the line, it is conceived to be highly probable
that a similar course has been pursued with the secondary camps. If,
therefore, we could correctly ascertain which, of all the camps that dot
the country in the southern vicinage of the Wall, are mural stations, we
might, with tolerable plausibility, bestow upon them in their order the
remaining names of the Notitia roll. But this is a task of great
difficulty, and considerable uncertainty must necessarily attend the
appropriation of the names upon this principle.

An examination of the forts themselves, however, on both sides of the
Wall, is a task equally easy and instructive, and it is one which is
essential to a correct estimate of the strength of the principal
fortification—the Wall. Sir John Clark must have altogether overlooked
the existence of these supporting stations, when he wrote in the
following strain to his friend Gale:—

  After all, I cannot but take notice of two things with regard to the
  Wall, that have given me great matter of speculation. The first is,
  why it was made at all, for it could never be a proper defence, and
  perhaps at Bowness less than at any other place, since our barbarian
  forefathers on the north side could pass over at low water, and if the
  sea was higher or deeper than it is now, could make their attacks from
  the north-east side by land.—The second is, why the Scots historians,
  vain enough by nature, have not taken more pains to describe the Wall,
  a performance which did their ancestors more honour than all the
  trifling stories put together which they have transmitted to us. It is
  true the Romans walled out humanity from us; but it is as certain they
  thought the Caledonians a very formidable people, when they at so much
  labour and cost built this Wall; as before they had made a Vallum
  between the Forth and the Clyde.


The Romans did not oppose to the enemy a single line of fortification
only, which, by some casual negligence on their part, or a sudden
exertion of desperate bravery on the side of their antagonists, might in
a moment be rendered useless. In addition to the Wall, stationary camps
were planted along its whole course, at a few miles distance from it,
both to the north and the south; so that, in reality, a triple line of
fortresses was opposed to the passage of an enemy from either quarter.
These subsidiary stations were connected with the garrisons on the Wall,
and to some extent with each other, by good roads. In maintaining a
surveillance over an enemy, whether to the north or the south of the
chief member of the fortification, in furnishing a secure retreat for
the soldiery when venturing beyond their line, and in stemming the first
shock of an onset, the importance of the out-stations cannot be


It is not contended that all the stations which are immediately on the
north and south of the Wall were erected with the express view of
supporting it. Several of them doubtless were, but others, there is
reason to believe, were made by Agricola, before the Wall was projected
or thought of. All that is necessary for us to admit is, that they
contributed materially to the strength of the main structure, and as
such, formed an important element in the calculations of the engineer of
the Wall.

In taking a cursory survey of the supporting stations of the line, it
may be well, first, to examine those which defended its eastern
extremity: next, those which are upon Watling-street—the great channel
of communication between the northern and southern sections of Britain
on the east side of the summit level: afterwards, those which are on the
Maiden-way—the road on the west of the summit level: and reserve to the
last, the important stations which strengthened the works on the
northern and southern shores of the Solway.

_TYNEMOUTH._—The Castle and Priory stand upon a peninsula so strong and
so easily defended, that it could not have escaped the attention either
of the aboriginal Britons or the Romans. The altar, which was erected by
the fourth cohort of the Lingones, [Illustration: Tablet, Gyrum Cumbas]
has been already described (_p._ 109). Another lettered stone, found
along with it, is here represented.

                              GYRVM CVMBAS
                              ET TEMPLVM
                              FECIT C IV
                              LEG VI VI
                              EX VOTO

About the reading of the first line of this inscription, which Brand
translates, ‘a circular harbour for the shipping,’ there is some
uncertainty; but there is no doubt about the other lines, which import

       Caius Julius Maximinus, _of_ the Sixth Legion, victorious,
          in the performance of a vow, erected _this_ temple.

The mere circumstance of its selection as the site of a temple, proves
this to have been a place of some importance in the Roman age. The name
of the builder of the temple fixes, with a near approach to precision,
the date of its dedication. Caius Julius Verus Maximinus was a Thracian
shepherd of great personal strength; he attracted at an early period of
his life the notice of Septimius Severus, and under Caracalla attained
to the rank of centurion. On the assassination of Alexander Severus, in
235, he assumed the purple, and was himself assassinated in 238. He
probably accompanied Septimius Severus into Britain, and on this
occasion erected the temple commemorated by this inscription. The
following amusing account of the personal qualifications of Maximinus,
is given in Dr. William Smith’s admirable Dictionary of Biography and

  His height exceeded eight feet, but his person was not ungraceful, for
  the size and muscular developement of his limbs were in proportion to
  his stature, the circumference of his thumb being equal to that of a
  woman’s wrist, so that the bracelet of his wife served him for a
  ring.... The remarkable magnitude of his eyes communicated a bold and
  imposing expression to his features. He was able single-handed to drag
  a loaded wagon, could with his fist knock out the grinders, and with a
  kick break the leg of a horse; while his appetite was such, that in a
  day he could eat forty pounds of meat, and drink an amphora of wine.
  At least such are the statements of the ancient writers.

Nearly all traces of the camp at Tynemouth have been erased. Some years
after the modern well near the entrance into the castle was sunk,
another of wide diameter, and cased with masonry, was discovered, in
consequence of the falling in of its covering; it is supposed to be
Roman, but was again closed by order of the commander of the garrison,
before it could be properly inspected.


The mediæval remains at Tynemouth are of great interest. The castellated
gateway which formerly defended the approaches to the priory precincts
has been sadly mutilated by tasteless renovators, but the ecclesiastical
buildings, which have happily been left to the mercy of the elements,
exhibit even in their ruins, much of their original beauty. The
church-yard, affords a resting place to many who for years had been
tossed upon the restless ocean, and to some who, venturing into the
briny flood in search of health and pleasure, met with an untimely end.
Friendly tomb-stones, speak of them; some names, however, are in danger
of being forgotten.

The murdered body of Oswin king of Deira, was deposited in the
church-yard of this monastery. Here too, were buried Malcolm Canmore
king of Scotland—the friend of the Saxon—and his son, prince Edward, so
named after his maternal ancestor the Confessor; they were both slain in
the same fatal battle fought near Alnwick, A.D. 1094. Queen Margaret,
through whom her present majesty, queen Victoria, derives her Saxon
blood, survived the slaughter of her husband and son but a few days.


_BLAKE-CHESTERS_, at the high end of North Shields, is the site of
another camp. Waterville, the residence of George Rippon, esq., is
within its bounds. Several carved stones, much worn by the weather, are
on the ground, and many Roman building-stones may be observed in the
contiguous fences.

These are not the only camps which were situated on the east coast north
of the Wall. Hodgson says—

From the Wall northward, are numerous small square camps, strengthened
with deep ditches, scattered over the country, as if they had been
intended for rural purposes.[128] A line of them may still be traced
through the parishes of Long-Benton, past Cramlington, into the Plessy

There is every probability that the site of Morpeth castle was fortified
by the Romans. Some portions of the curtain-wall still standing have
been pronounced by competent judges to be of Roman masonry.


_SHIELDS LAWE._—The southern shore of the estuary of the Tyne was as
well protected as the northern. A camp, comprehending several acres,
stood upon the slightly elevated headland at South Shields called the
Lawe. The excellence of the situation, as a post of observation, is
proved by the acts of the pilots who have planted a beacon and erected
many of their residences upon it. In 1798, the foundations of many old
walls, which obstructed the plough, were removed. The lowest course of
some of them consisted ‘of rough whinstone, evidently brought from the
shore, as the barnacles were still adhering to them.’ The remains of a
hypocaust were discovered at the same time. Several coins were also
found, and as some of them were of the reign of Valentinian (A.D. 380),
it may be presumed that the station was in use only a short time before
the desertion of Britain by the Romans. An altar, despoiled of its
inscription, which was found in this station, is preserved in the
library at Durham.

The ancient military-way called the Wreckendike terminated at this
station. Until a recent period, one branch of it could be traced by
Lay-gate, the Dean-bridge, and Jarrow-slake, to Gateshead-fell. It also
led to Lanchester, Binchester, and the South.


_JARROW._—At nearly the same distance from the camp on the Lawe, on the
south side of the river, as Blake-chesters is from Tynemouth, on the
north, the site of another Roman fort occurs. Hodgson, who first drew
attention to it, says—

  At Jarrow, an oblong square of about three acres, with its corners
  rounded off, overlooking the estuary of Jarrow-slake, and fronting on
  the south the bank of the navigable stream called the Don, is, on good
  grounds, supposed to have been the site of a station or fortified town
  of the Romans. Under-ground foundations of a wall of strong masonry
  mark out its area on every side, and include within them the site of
  the present church and church-yard, and some ragged remains of the
  ancient monastery of Jarrow. In digging up part of the remains of
  these walls in 1812, a silver denarius of Aulus Vitellius was found
  embedded in mortar in the heart of the wall; and when the road was
  formed past Jarrow-row, in 1803, two square pavements of Roman brick
  were discovered.

[Illustration: 323]

Two inscribed stones have been found here which give strength to the
opinion that Jarrow was a Roman station. One of them, now at
Somerset-house, is shewn in the wood-cut. As Brand observes, it is
interesting as containing the name of our island at length. It has been

                     O_CEANVM_ EXERCITVS _FECIT_.—

The army erected this, on the extension of the Roman dominion in
Britain, from the western to the eastern sea.

The other stone has formed part of an altar erected in honour of the
adopted sons of Hadrian.

The church of Jarrow is a simple building, but it contains some
undoubted Saxon work. Within the walls of the ancient monastery, some
portions of which exist, the venerable Bede passed his useful and
unostentatious life. Of him, Surtees, the Historian of Durham, observes—

  The lamp of learning, trimmed by the hand of a single monastic who
  never passed the limits of his Northumbrian province, irradiated from
  the cell of Jarrow, the Saxon realm of England with a clear and steady
  light; and when Bede died, history reversed her torch, and quenched it
  in deep night.

This venerable man died, A.D., 735, in the act of completing a
translation into Anglo-Saxon of the Gospel of St. John. His name would
have been worthy of all reverence, even had he done nothing more than
give to his countrymen the Scriptures in their vernacular tongue. It
must however be confessed that ‘he fell on evil times,’ and that his
works embody many of the errors and superstitions of the period.

[Sidenote: WARDLEY.]

_WARDLEY._—An ancient entrenchment containing an area of upwards of six
acres, may yet be observed at Wardley, in the parish of Jarrow, nearly
opposite to Wallsend. Hodgson, who resided for several years in this
neighbourhood, was not able to learn that any Roman antiquities were
ever found in it. He was disposed, however, to think that it belonged to
the Roman era. It may have been a summer encampment of the garrison at
Wallsend, and as such, would contribute not a little to their comfort,
and the defence of the river.

Wardley, there is some reason to suppose, is the Wredelau of the
chroniclers, where the body of St. Cuthbert became immoveable, and where
the wandering monastics received the revelation which directed them to

Such were the strongholds by which the garrisons on the eastern
extremity of the Wall were assisted in maintaining their ground against
the foe.

Watling-street, running north and south, crossed the Wall at about
twenty miles from its termination at Wallsend. The modern turnpike-road
between Corbridge and West-Woodburn adheres very closely to its track,
and occasionally the ancient ditches protecting it on both sides are to
be seen. Its stations were probably planted by Agricola, but were not on
that account less useful to the soldiers of the Barrier. Our examination
of them must be brief.

_CHEW-GREEN._—Here, close upon the Scottish border, is an extensive
Roman camp; investigation is necessary to decide whether it was of a
temporary or permanent character; it is probably only an earthen


BREMENIUM, or High Rochester, is a station of considerable interest. It
stands upon Watling-street, at about twenty two miles north of the Wall.
Between Rochester and Chew-green the pavement of the Roman road may be
distinctly traced for many miles together. The site on which the station
stands is high and much exposed; but, in a military point of view, it is
very strong. On all sides the ground slopes from it, but on the north it
sinks so rapidly, as to give it the protection of a bold breastwork. The
walls of the station are stronger than those of the forts on the line of
the Wall; they are not only thicker, but are composed of larger
stones.[Sidenote: BREMENIUM.] A moat has surrounded the camp; on the
east side, which is by nature the weakest, two ditches have been formed,
which there is reason to believe were supplied with water. All the
gateways may be traced with considerable distinctness; the southern one
has suffered least from depredation. The interior of the station is
filled with the ruins of buildings; some of them would well repay
examination. Of the modern structures which have been raised within its
area, two are peel-houses or fortified dwellings of considerable
strength. The suburban buildings of the station have been situated on
the west side, where their foundations still appear. Here they would be
protected by the valley along which, at about a quarter of a mile’s
distance, the Sills-burn runs. The stones of the ramparts are strongly
marked by the diamond broaching. The station contains an area of four
acres and three roods.

At about half-a-mile distant from the station, in a south-east
direction, there have recently been discovered the foundations of some
Roman _cippi_ or funeral monuments. They are close by the road, and as
was usually the case, on the south side of it. Three of them are square,
the fourth, which is the largest, is circular. The masonry of all of
them is remarkably fresh. The circular tomb has two courses of stones
standing, besides the flat stones which form the foundation. On clearing
out the interior, a jar of unburnt clay was found; it had no bones in
it. The natural soil was found to have been acted upon by fire to the
depth of more than a foot. Mixed with the rubbish was a quantity of
white ashes. A coin of Alexander Severus was found within the area, a
circumstance which strengthens the presumption that the station was
occupied by the Romans until a late period.

There are several temporary camps in this neighbourhood. Persons well
acquainted with the country, and who have noticed the peculiar structure
of Roman roads, give it as their opinion that a Roman way has proceeded
eastwards from Rochester by Yatesfield, Potts-Durtrees, Yardhope,
Holystone, and Glanton, in a direction which renders it probable that it
joined that branch of Watling-street which traversed the eastern side of
Northumberland, and is often inelegantly termed the Devil’s-causeway.

Some distance south of the station, and near to the point at which
Watling-street crosses the modern high-way, (in front of Redesdale
cottage) the remains of an ancient lime-kiln were recently found. It was
situated on the slope of a rocky hill, and had been formed partly by the
excavation of the natural rock, and partly by regular courses of
masonry. In order to take advantage of the form of the ground, the mouth
for drawing out the lime was placed in front. The stones were much
reddened by the action of fire, and portions of lime were adhering to
them. There is excellent limestone near the kiln, and several beds of
coal are in the vicinity. Several heaps of rubbish, on the line of
Watling-street, where the coal crops out, render it probable that this
mineral was wrought by the Romans.


In ascertaining the Roman names of the stations on the line of the Wall,
reference has hitherto been made only to the Notitia Imperii. Another
document has come down to our time, of which we may now avail
ourselves—the Itinerary of Antonine. It does not mention any of the
stations immediately upon the Wall, but names some to the north and and
south of it. It is a sort of road-book of the whole Roman empire, and is
supposed to have been made by one of the emperors who bore the name of
Antoninus. Horsley thinks that Caracalla is best entitled to be
accounted its author. That part of it which relates to Britain contains
fifteen routes; the towns upon each are named, and the distances from
one to another given in Roman miles. The aid which such a document gives
in ascertaining the ancient designations of the stations that occur in
it is obvious. The first ‘Iter’ is entitled ‘A Route from the Limit,
that is, from the Wall, to PRÆTORIUM, 156 miles.’ It begins thus—

                From BREMENIUM to CORSTOPITUM XX  miles.
                  To VINDOMORA                IX  ”
                  To VINOVIA                  XIX ”

The second ‘Iter’ also begins at the Wall, and goes to the
Ritupian-port, Richborough, 481 miles.

The first portion only, of it also, bears upon our present

           To LUGUVALLIUM                           XII ”
           To VOREDA                                XIV ”

The tenth ‘Iter,’ which is from GLANOVENTA to MEDIOLANUM, 150 miles,
begins with towns which are supposed to be in the vicinity of the Wall.

                 From GLANOVENTA to GALAVA XVIII miles.
                   To ALIONE (or ALIONIS)  XII   ”

That Rochester is the BREMENIUM of the first route, is established by
the discovery of an altar in it, which professes to be erected by the
_duplares_ of the exploratory troops stationed at BREMENIUM. In no
position would exploratory troops be more needed than here, and no place
could be more appropriately fixed upon as the starting point of an
‘Iter’ than this. Several of the inscriptions belonging to this station
bear the name of Caracalla. Both BREMENIUM and HABITANCUM seem to have
undergone important repairs in the time of this emperor.

Eight miles south of High Rochester, and on the line of Watling-street,
is another Roman station.

[Sidenote: HABITANCUM.]

HABITANCUM is the name which Camden, and Horsley, on the authority of a
stone found near the station, and which was inspected by them both,
agree in bestowing upon the modern Risingham.

The position of HABITANCUM will strike a stranger with surprise. Instead
of occupying an eminence, it is placed in a valley, and close upon the
banks of the Rede. Hills environ it, though not very closely, on every
side. They who, in early spring, have been exposed on the neighbouring
heights to the sleety shower, will know the reason of the selection. The
climate of Risingham is peculiarly mild. The west wind blows with the
steadiness of a trade wind, and the harsh east seldom descends into this
favoured valley. The village of Woodburn is on the opposite side of the
river. The lines in ‘Rokeby’ well characterize the spot, though its wood
is fast disappearing—

                  Where Rede upon his margin sees
                  Sweet Woodburn’s cottages and trees.

Notwithstanding the secluded nature of the situation, it is not
destitute of military strength. The Rede defends it on the north, which
was the point of greatest danger; and, excepting on the south, where an
out-post seems to have been maintained, an enemy could be descried long
before approaching the camp.

The walls of the station have been constructed of the same strong
masonry as those of BREMENIUM. Owing to the excellence of the stone, the
marks of the tool upon them are peculiarly distinct. In the hill behind
the station, called the Bell-knowe, the ancient quarrymen have left
numerous wedge-holes and other indications of their labours. Although a
fosse usually surrounded the ramparts of a station, and although sir
Walter Scott has sung of—

                     The moated mound of Risingham,

[Sidenote: RISINGHAM.]

Risingham does not appear to have been defended in this way. In company
with the owner of the property, who had a little before thorough-drained
the ground bordering on the south and east sides of the camp, I sought
in vain for any traces of a fosse. The ruins of the interior would yield
a rich harvest to the careful explorer. Recent excavations have revealed
some chambers of great interest; but, with the exception of those near
the south-east corner, they have been removed as soon as displayed. Some
of the buildings were evident restorations of prior structures: a
circumstance which confirms the conclusion deduced from other
considerations, that the station was long occupied by the Romans. After
being deserted, a portion of its north rampart has been carried away by
the river. Until recently, the remains of the bridge by which
Watling-street crossed the Rede, on the west side of the station, were
distinctly visible. The soil which covers the camp is peculiarly rich,
being replete with animal matter. Many important antiquarian treasures
have been procured from this spot. The large slab, six feet long, which
forms the ground-work of the initial letter at the beginning of this
part, was found among the ruins of the south gateway. The inscription
mentions the restoration of the gate with the walls of the station
(PORTAM CUM MURIS VETUSTATE DILAPSIS). The upper part, which is lost,
probably contained the name of Severus; in what remains, some of the
titles of Caracalla appear. Geta’s name seems to have been erased. The
stone is now at Newcastle. Another very fine slab found at this station,
is at Cambridge. Some of the altars discovered here will be described in
the last part.

Horsley is naturally surprised that HABITANCUM is not named in the
Antonine Itinerary. One conjecture in which he indulges, in order to
account for this is, ‘that the station might be neglected before the
reign of Caracalla,’ which is proved to be unfounded by the slab already
referred to, and by the discovery last year of some large fragments of
inscriptions, mentioning that emperor by his title Adiabenicus. A second
supposition which he entertains may be the correct one. He says—

     Possibly Risingham might be looked on as too near to
     Rochester, to make it another mansion in this route. And
     though two places are sometimes set down in the same iter,
     which are at no greater distance, yet other circumstances
     might render this proper at one place, and not so at another.

It is not improbable that the two stations may have been under one
command. The exposed situation of BREMENIUM would render it highly
desirable that the _exploratores_, after having battled for a season
with the elements and the Caledonians, should be allowed a period of
comparative relief in some more sheltered spot, such as HABITANCUM.

[Sidenote: CORSTOPITUM.]

CORSTOPITUM is the next place that occurs in this ‘iter,’ in which it is
set down as being twenty miles from BREMENIUM. At the distance of about
twenty-three English miles from the camp of High Rochester, and on the
line of Watling-street, are now to be found the remains of the station
of Corchester.

[Sidenote: CORCHESTER.]

This, which is a little to the west of the town of Corbridge, is
doubtless the ancient CORSTOPITUM. The station, which is now entirely
levelled, and can with difficulty be traced, has stood upon a gently
swelling knoll on the north bank of the Tyne. A bridge, the foundations
of which the floods of seventeen centuries have spared, connected it
with the opposite bank of the river; the remains of this bridge are
precisely similar in appearance to those on the North Tyne at CILURNUM.
The bridge has crossed the river obliquely, a circumstance which
corroborates the opinion formerly expressed, that the bridges in these
parts consisted of horizontal roadways, supported upon piers—unless,
indeed, we suppose that the Romans were acquainted with the construction
of the skew-arch. Hutchinson states, that a ‘military way passes from
this place south-west through Dilston Park, over Hexham Fell to Old Town
in Allendale, and meets with the Maiden-way at Whitley Castle.’
Abundance of medals, inscriptions, and other Roman antiquities, have
been found at Corchester. Pieces of Roman bricks and pots are spread
over the surface of the ground. The church at Corbridge has been raised
at the expense of the station. Horsley conceives that this fort was
abandoned before the compilation of the Notitia, as it is not mentioned
in that document. It is about two miles south of the Wall.

The large altar which is figured in the initial letter at the beginning
of this volume, formed, in Horsley’s days, the shaft of the market-cross
at Corbridge. It is now on the stairs of the entrance-tower, at the
castle of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The inscription is defaced, but the
carving on both sides remains; on the one side is a soldier, armed—the
representative probably of war; on the other is a warrior, having laid
aside his weapons, dragging an amphora of wine—a picture, emblematic of
peace. The singular use made of this heathen relic suggests the
insertion here of the story of the ‘Fairy stone,’ as it is still told in
this neighbourhood.

  A Roman altar in the vicinity of Bywell was, during the ‘troublesome
  times’ of 1715, put to a use little contemplated either by the
  ancients or moderns. It was employed as the post-office of the
  non-juring gentry of the district. The parties, wishing to keep up a
  correspondence with each other, arranged to deposit their
  communications in a hollow of the altar. In the gray of the morning
  little girls clad in green, and trained to the task, approached the
  stone with a dancing step, and, having got the letters, retired with
  antic gestures. So well did they perform their part that they were
  mistaken for fairies, and the object of their visits was not
  discovered for a long time afterwards. The stone was known by the name
  of the Fairy stone.


But the greatest curiosity which has been discovered at CORSTOPITUM, is
the silver _lanx_, or dish, which is represented on the next page. A
piece of plate so massive, is of rare occurrence in the stations of the
North. It is in the possession of the duke of Northumberland. There is
an accurate cast of it in the Newcastle Museum of Antiquities.

[Illustration: Corbridge Lanx]

  'It was found (says Mr. Robert Cay, in a letter of 4th March 1734)
  near Corbridge, by some ignorant poor people who have cut off the feet
  in such a vile barbarous manner, that they have broke two holes
  through the table, and a small piece off one of the corners too.' It
  is 19½ inches long, and 15 broad; it weighs about 150 ounces. The rim
  of the plate rises nearly an inch above the interior. The figures have
  been punched into form. Gale’s conjecture as to its use is probably
  the correct one. ‘This is big enough (he says) to contain the _exta_
  of a sheep, or other small victims, which seems to me to be the
  likeliest employment for it, and that it was one of these sacrificing
  utensils that Virgil calls _Lances_:

               Lancibus et pandis fumantia reddimus exta.’

  The principal figures on the plate are probably, those of Diana,
  Minerva, Juno, Vesta, and Apollo.

  On the left side of the design is Diana, armed with a bow and arrow.
  Below her feet is an urn with water flowing from it; in front of her,
  is an altar with an offering, of a globular form, upon it, and below
  the altar, is a dog of the greyhound species, looking up to the

  The next figure is Minerva. She wears a helmet, and her breast is
  adorned with the Gorgon’s head. A spear is in her left hand. The thumb
  and first two fingers of her right hand are uplifted, as if in the act
  of bestowing a benediction.

  The next figure is supposed to be Juno, though no symbol is given by
  which she can be decisively distinguished. Her right hand is uplifted
  in a manner similar to Minerva’s. At her feet lies a dead buck.

  Vesta succeeds. She is seated; part of her peplus or mantle is drawn
  over her head; the two fore-fingers of her left hand, which is
  apparently resting upon her bosom, are upraised. Beneath the goddess
  is an altar with the fire burning.

  On the right of the piece is Apollo, standing under a canopy. His bow
  is in his left hand, a flower in his right. His lyre is on the ground
  by his side, and a griffin is below him.

  An eagle and some other birds are among the branches of the tree in
  the upper part of the piece.

  Under the whole representation some recondite meaning is probably
  concealed, which can only be a subject of conjecture. (_See Hodgson’s
  Northumberland_, II. iii. 246.)

[Illustration: Altar to Astarte]

[Sidenote: GREEK ALTAR.]

Two important altars, with Greek inscriptions have been found at
Corbridge. One is dedicated to the Tyrian Hercules; the other, which is
represented in the adjoining wood-cut, to Astarte, the Ashtaroth of the

                               ΒΩΜΟΝ Μ’
                               ΠΟΥΛΧΕΡ Μ’

                              Of Astarte,
                               The altar
                                You see,

Josephus tells us, that Hiram king of Tyre, built two temples, which he
dedicated to these deities. The Israelites, in forsaking the living God,
not unfrequently betook themselves to the abominations of the Sidonians.

                         ... With these in troop
             Came Astoreth, whom the Ph[oe]nicians call’d
             Astarte, queen of heaven, with crescent horns;
             To whose bright image nightly by the moon
             Sidonian virgins paid their vows and songs,
             In Sion also not unsung,...

It is deeply and painfully interesting to dig up in our British soil
decided traces of this gross idolatry.[129]

[Sidenote: HEXHAM CRYPT.]

_HEXHAM_ is generally admitted by antiquaries to have been a Roman town,
though the proof of it is not absolutely decisive. St. Wilfrid built a
church and monastery here about the year 673, after the Roman manner,
which was considered the wonder of the age. We are told by the
historians of that period that ‘secret cells and subterranean oratories
were laid with wondrous industry beneath’ the building. Some vaults
[Illustration: Crypt of Hexham Abbey Church] still remaining probably
formed the crypt of this ancient structure. The stones which compose
this under-ground building are all Roman; the peculiar mode in which
they are chiselled is exhibited in the annexed wood cut, representing
one of its chambers. The walls exhibit several Roman mouldings and
cornices, besides inscriptions.[130] It is not likely that these stones
would be brought from Corbridge (the nearest Roman station, if Hexham be
not one), which is on the other side of the river, and three miles
distant; especially as there is abundance [Illustration: Slab to Severus
at Hexham] of stone in the immediate neighbourhood. The most important
of the inscribed slabs which are walled up in the crypt, is here
exhibited; it is one[Sidenote: INSCRIPTION TO SEVERUS.] of the
inscriptions bearing the names of the emperor Septimius Severus (who
added to his own name that of his predecessor, Pertinax), of his eldest
son, Caracalla, who styled himself Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Pius, and
of Geta, his younger son, whose name and title have obviously been
erased from the tablet, an operation which we find has been studiously
performed on many similar inscriptions, doubtless after his murder by
his unnatural brother Caracalla. The date of this inscription is marked
by the union of Severus and his two sons in the imperial title. Its
object does not appear from what remains of the stone, further than that
it recorded some act done by a vexillation of some portion of the Roman

The mediæval antiquities of Hexham are highly interesting. The gateways
and embattled towers will repay examination; but the gem of this fine
old town, which in the Saxon era was an episcopal see, is the
Abbey-church. The choir and transepts alone remain; they exhibit much
beauty of detail, and their several parts blend most harmoniously
together. The church formerly possessed the right of sanctuary. The
frid-stool is still in its place. The cross which marked the eastern
boundary of the privileged territory is nearly entire, and is kept near
its original site, in the yard of the poor-house. The _disjecta membra_
of that which marked the northern boundary of the sanctuary lie by the
side of the road going over Cross-bank, a hill between two and three
miles north of Hexham, and from which the traveller approaching the town
from the north first obtains a view of the venerable abbey-church, and
surrounding town. The prospect is now, to the peaceful antiquary,
guiltless of his neighbour’s blood, singularly interesting—what must it
have been when descried in ancient times by panting fugitives, pressed
by an avenging hand, and fleeing to the sanctuary! This cross remains a
monument of the disordered state of society in the middle ages, and
leads the reflecting passenger to contrast his present tranquility with
the insecurity of former times. No favoured spot is now necessary to
shield the innocent from the rage of a stronger assailant, or will be
allowed to stay the course of justice upon the guilty.

[Sidenote: EBCHESTER.]

_EBCHESTER_, situated upon the line of Watling-street, is, as its name
indicates, a Roman station. Surtees thus describes it:—

  Ebchester stands at the foot of a long descent, yet on the edge of a
  still steeper declivity. Its cottages and trees are scattered along a
  lofty brow overhanging the green haugh-lands of the Derwent. On the
  very edge of the steep, the vallum of a Roman station is still
  extremely distinct, and the little chapel of Ebchester, a farmhold,
  and a few thatched cottages, stand within the very area of the ancient
  VINDOMORA—if VINDOMORA it be, for the point is by no means stated as
  beyond controversy.

[Sidenote: LANCHESTER.]

_LANCHESTER_ is, on the authority of the itinerary of Richard of
Cirencester, conceived to be the EPEIACUM of the Romans. Though several
miles removed from the Wall, its position upon Watling-street would
render it useful as a supporting station. It occupies a lofty brow to
the west of the village, on a tongue of land formed by the junction of
two small streams. On three sides the ground falls from the camp; on the
west only it is commanded by a high moorland hill, whose prospect ranges
from the Cheviots, in the north, to the Cleveland hills, in the south.
The station is one of the largest class, containing an area of about
eight acres. The walls may be distinguished on all sides. The south
wall, though deprived of its facing-stones, stands eight feet high, and
shews nine courses of thin rubble-stones arranged edgewise in a leaning
direction. A layer of very rough mortar has been placed on each course
of stones after they have been placed in their bed. On the outside of
the south-east angle a subterranean chamber has been discovered; the
descent to it is by steps. It is difficult to conjecture the use to
which it has been put; a similar chamber was found to occupy the same
position outside the camp at Plumpton. The masonry of some chambers near
the south-east corner of the station, which when first opened were found
to be full of bones, is very perfect. The remains of a hypocaust may be
seen near to the place where the pretorium has probably stood.
Lanchester seems to have been garrisoned almost throughout the entire
period of Roman occupation; a large proportion of the coins found at it
are of the higher empire, but the series extends down to Valentinian.
The name of Gordian occurs on two inscriptions as the restorer of some
of its buildings. The destruction of the station was probably owing to
some sudden and violent catastrophe. The observations of Surtees on this
subject, are applicable to many of the camps of the Barrier.

  The red ashes of the basilica and bath, the vitrified flooring, and
  the metallic substances evidently run by fire, which occur amongst the
  ruins, form a strong indication that the structure perished in the

It has already been observed (p. 261) that two aqueducts have brought
water to the station from a distance of some miles. This is the more
remarkable as several deep wells have been found near the camp, and
there are open springs within fifty paces from the south and east wall.

The surrounding moor abounds in iron-stone; of this the Romans seem to
have availed themselves, for immense heaps of slag, of ancient
production, have been found in the neighbourhood.

_BINCHESTER_ is still farther to the south, on the same line of road;
but, on account of its distance, would have but little intercourse with
the stations immediately connected with the Barrier. It contains some
hypocausts, which are peculiarly worthy of careful examination.

Retracing our steps and again penetrating the region of fierce
Caledonian onslaughts and border feuds, we find Bewcastle occupying a
position north of the Wall, on the Maiden-way, corresponding with that
which Risingham does on Watling-street.

[Sidenote: BEWCASTLE.]

_BEWCASTLE_ stands in the bottom of a basin formed by a wide
amphitheatre of bleak and lofty hills. The camp occupies a platform
slightly elevated above the rivulet, the Kirkbeck, which washes its
southern ramparts and permeates the valley. The northern side is the
weakest part of the position, but even here there is a depression in the
contour of the ground, which would render it more easily defensible. In
this quarter too there are marks of artificial fortifications beyond the
station wall. The fort, in order to suit the nature of the ground, is
not of the usual square form, but is six-sided; it probably encloses an
area of about four acres. The ground on which the camp stands is
reckoned the most fertile in all Cumberland. It was in the depth of
winter that I visited it (1, Jan. 1850) but even then the space occupied
by the fortifications might be distinguished by its peculiar verdure. To
the east of the camp are some barrow-like mounds, and on the west of it
are terraced lines, bearing testimony to the agricultural industry of
the Romans. On the eminence westward of the camp are the foundations of
square buildings, probably posts of observation. On the lofty summits of
some of the adjacent hills the concentric lines of British encampments
plainly appear. They still seem to bid defiance to the Roman fort in the

Within the lines of the camp, and protected by a moat of its own, is a
dark and frowning castle; it is tersely described in an ancient
manuscript, ‘as a strength against the Scots in time of warre.’ The
captain of Bewcastle was a military chief of considerable power; he is
frequently mentioned in Border minstrelsy. The castle is built with the
stones of the station. Its masonry is very rude; the mortar which has
been used is rough, containing, besides gravel and sand, pieces of coal,
charcoal, burnt clay, and broken bricks. A tower, apparently added after
the main structure was reared, guards the entrance-gateway.

This, or some previous building, gives name to Bewcastle—Bueth’s-castle.

  Bueth was, before the conquest, lord of Bewcastle and Gilsland. After
  some previous changes, Henry II., by a grant, dated ‘_apud Novum
  Castrum super Tynam_,’ gave the manor of Gilsland to Hubert de
  Vallibus, one of his Norman retainers. The Saxons were not men quietly
  to submit to wrong. Gilbert Bueth, son of the dispossessed proprietor,
  collecting a band of followers, made frequent incursions into his
  ancient patrimony. Robert de Vallibus, son of Hubert, the former
  possessor, suggested a conference, at which he basely assassinated the
  unarmed Saxon. Expiation was easy; the[Sidenote: ORIGIN OF LANERCOST
  PRIORY.] priory of Lanercost was founded and richly endowed. It is
  traditionally said that part of the expiatory ceremony consisted in
  the demolition of the walls of his castle at Castle-steads
  (Cambeck-fort), and sowing the site with salt. The baronial residence
  was transferred to Irthington, where, as already observed, some traces
  of it remain. Robert de Vallibus was afterwards employed by Henry II.
  as a judge of assize. How lax must the state of morality have been,
  when a murderer was allowed to sit upon the bench! His ill-gotten
  lands were not permitted to descend to his posterity, William, his
  only child, dying before him.

The far-famed Runic cross, respecting which so much has been written,
holds its ancient place in the church-yard of Bewcastle. The
inscription, which is now hardly legible, is pronounced by Kemble
(Archæologia xxviii. 347) to be an Anglo-Saxon, not a Norse one. Two
Roman inscriptions, not now to be found, have been described as
belonging to this station. One of them, which Camden saw used as a
grave-stone, bore the letters,

                          LEG[IO] II AVG[VSTA]

                     The second legion, the august,
                              made _this_.

The other, much fractured, Horsley saw fulfilling the same office. He
says, ‘I take it to have been an honorary monument erected to Hadrian,
by the _Legio secunda Augusta_, and the _Legio vicesima_.’


_WHITLEY CASTLE_ is the modern name of another outpost, which is
situated on the Maiden-way, as far south of the Wall as Bewcastle is
north of it. An imperfect inscription found here, and described by
Camden and Horsley, commemorates the dedication of a temple to
Caracalla, in his fourth consulship (A.D. 213), by the third cohort of
the Nervii. As the Notitia places the third cohort of the Nervii at
ALIONIS, it is conceived that such may have been the ancient designation
of the camp at Whitley Castle. The station stands upon the gently
inclining side of a hill, about two miles north of the town of Alston.
The railway approaches within a few furlongs of it. The form of the camp
is peculiar, being that of a trapezoid, whereas the usual figure is that
of a parallelogram. In another respect it differs from all the other
camps that we have hitherto examined; it is surrounded by an
extraordinary number of earthen entrenchments. On the western side,
which is the most exposed, there are no fewer than seven ditches, with
corresponding ramparts, and on the north, four. These earth-works are in
a state of wonderful preservation. The strength of these lines, and the
comparative absence, both within and without the station, of Roman
stones, render it probable that the garrison trusted to breastworks of
earth, rather than of masonry. The general level of the camp is elevated
above the surface of the contiguous ground, in consequence, probably, of
the mass of ruins which it contains. Its whole area, including the
entrenchments and ditches, amounts to nine acres.

A large altar procured from the station is in the neighbouring farm
house; the inscription is illegible, but it has on the upper part of its
four sides, a carving in bold relief.


It is no unusual thing to find in the neighbourhood of a Roman station
manifest traces of the dunghill of the fort. As might be expected, such
a repository is replete with objects which, though once despised and
cast away as worthless, well repay the search of the antiquary. Not far
from the north-east angle of this camp a large dunghill was found, which
has been recently removed for farm purposes. It contained numerous
fragments of Roman earthenware and glass, as well as armillæ of jet or
fine cannel coal. Its most curious product, however, was a large store
of old shoes or sandals. The soles were all made ‘right and left,’ and
consisted of several folds of leather fastened together with
round-headed nails. (See Plate XVIII. figs. 3, 4, 5.) Were this the only
place where these curious objects have been found, we might hesitate to
assign to them a primeval date, but very many having been discovered in
digging the foundations of Carlisle gaol, and some in clearing the
buildings at CILURNUM, as well as other places, and being accompanied in
every instance by other articles of undoubted Roman manufacture, we are
entitled to consider them as the produce of Roman hands. Modern artists
might examine them with advantage; Roman shoe-makers thought it no
dishonour to let nature prescribe the form that their handy-work should


Wallis, the author of the Natural History and Antiquities of
Northumberland, was born within the ramparts of this camp; the house is
now removed. In the preface to his work he accounts for the antiquarian
bias of his mind in the following strain:—

  Northumberland being Roman ground, and receiving my first breath in
  one of their _castra_, I was led by a sort of enthusiasm to an inquiry
  and search after their towns, their cities, and temples, their baths,
  their altars, their _tumuli_, their military ways, and other remains
  of their splendour and magnificence; which will admit of a thousand
  views and reviews, and still give pleasure to such as have a gust for
  any thing Roman; every year almost presenting new discoveries of the
  wisdom, the contrivance, ingenuity, and elegance of that respectable

Although nearly a century has elapsed since Wallis wrote this, the field
of Romano-British antiquities still retains much of the fertility he
ascribes to it, and doubtless, has stores yet in reserve for the
assiduous inquirer.

Before proceeding to the stations which supported the western extremity
of the Wall, there are two camps, one to the east, and another to the
west of the Maiden-way, which demand a little of our attention.

_OLD TOWN._—Horsley entertained the idea that he had found the remains
of a Roman camp at Old Town, near Catton Beacon, in Allendale. Hodgson
treats the opinion with some degree of ridicule. I am disposed to think
that Horsley is right, though the inquiries I made on the spot did not
lead me to a decision of the question.


_BRAMPTON._—About a mile west of the modern town of Brampton, upon a
gentle eminence commanding a view in every direction of a most beautiful
country, are the traces of a small Roman camp. The father of English
topography, guided in some measure by the similarity of the names, fixed
the ancient BREMETENRACUM at Brampton; but Horsley, in consequence of
the absence of Roman remains, demurred to the correctness of the
conclusion. It is not surprising that this camp escaped the attention of
Horsley, as it is situated within the ancient park of Brampton,
considerable portions of which were, a century ago, covered with tangled
brushwood and venerable forest trees. Its trenches, though still
visible, are fast disappearing; every time it is ploughed, the furrow is
turned into the hollow of its fosse. Though hundreds of cart-loads of
stones have been taken from it, the ground on which the camp stood is
thickly strewed with stony fragments. On walking over the spot, I picked
up a piece of dove-coloured pottery, part of a millstone, and several
portions of Roman tile. Besides individual coins which have occasionally
been found here, an earthen jar, containing a large hoard, was turned up
by the plough in 1826. It contained not fewer than five thousand pieces,
all of them of the lower empire.

If Whitley Castle be the ALIONIS of the Notitia, this, as coming next in
order, may be, as Camden conjectured, BREMETENRACUM.[131]


In the plain to the south of the camp, are some remarkable _tumuli_. One
mound of large dimensions, standing alone, is covered with oak trees.
Three others of small size, and close to each other, are at the eastern
extremity of the same field. Two of them are circular, and about twelve
yards in diameter; the third is elongated, and measures about thirty-two
yards in length. Whatever opinion we may form respecting the larger
mound, there can be no doubt that the smaller ones are artificial
barrows; the hollow made by the excavation of the soil for their
formation is discernible. They do not appear to have been opened, but
will no doubt soon yield up their long-hoarded treasures to some
enterprising antiquary.

Between the station and the town of Brampton, may be noticed the faint
traces of an earthen encampment of the usual Roman form; it is fast
disappearing under the action of the plough. West of the station, stands
an ancient church, formed of Roman stones. Though the living have
forsaken the venerable pile, the dead are still being laid in its

We now approach the stations which supported the Barrier near its
western extremity; it will be well to examine first those north of the


_NETHERBY._—The nucleus of the seat of sir James Graham is a border
tower, with walls of great thickness. These walls were doubtless erected
at the expense of the ramparts and buildings of the camp, within which
the mansion is situated. The form of the station cannot now be
satisfactorily defined; but the number and importance of the coins,
altars, and sculptures, which have been found within it, prove that it
was a place of consequence during the period of Roman occupation. The
site, though not greatly elevated, commands an extensive prospect in
every direction. The bank on its western side, which slopes down to the
valley of the Esk, is said to have been washed in ancient days by the
waters of the Solway.

Among the many important inscriptions discovered here, is one to
Hadrian, closely resembling those which have been found at Milking-gap,
Bradley, and other places. The stone has long been lost, but in Gough’s
Camden the inscription is given thus—

                            IMP. CAES. TRA.
                            LEG. II. AVG. F.


Some very fine sculptured stones, found in the station, are preserved on
the spot. Amongst them is one which is figured on the adjoining page. A
youth stands in a niche, a mural crown is on his head, a cornucopia in
his left hand, and a patera, from which he pours out a libation on an
altar, in his right; it is one of the finest carvings that is to be met
with on the line of the Wall. From the grooves which are cut in the
lower part of the stone, [Illustration: Genius of the Wall] we may
naturally conclude, that the figure has been formerly set in masonry,
perhaps to adorn the approach to some temple. Gordon supposes the figure
to be intended for Hadrian; Lysons thinks that it was meant for the
‘Genius of the Wall of Severus’—let us combine the two ideas, and
suppose, that the figure is that of Hadrian, representing, as he had the
best right to do, ‘the Genius of the Barrier.’

Reference will afterwards be made to the figures of the _Deæ Matres_
which have been found here.


Netherby is supposed to be the CASTRA EXPLORATORUM of the second
Antonine ‘Iter,’ which was garrisoned by a _numerus exploratorum_. Its
situation is very suitable for an exploratory garrison; and its distance
from Carlisle on the one hand, and Middleby on the other, nearly
corresponds with the distance at which it is set down in the Itinerary


_MIDDLEBY._—To the south of Middleby Kirk, in the county of Dumfries, is
a camp which is called in the district Burns, or Birrens. It occupies a
low and sheltered situation, but possesses, notwithstanding,
considerable natural capabilities of defence. The water of Mein washes
the earthy scar which forms its southern margin, and the Middleby burn,
which joins the Mein at the south-east angle of the camp, runs parallel
to its eastern rampart. It appears, from the plan given in Roy’s
Military Antiquities, to have been protected, in addition to its stone
walls, on three sides by four earthen ramparts, with intervening
ditches; and on the north, which was at once by nature the weakest, and
the quarter most exposed to the attack of the enemy, by not fewer than
six. The northern ramparts remain in nearly their original completeness,
but the overflowings of the Mein on the south, the construction of a
road on the east, and the operations of agriculture on the west, have
destroyed the ramparts on these sides. A _procestrium_, or out-work,
protected by its own ramparts, appears to have been appended to the west
side of the original camp; or, perhaps, to speak more correctly, the
suburban buildings, which were situated in this quarter were embraced by
an additional fortification. In so exposed a situation, such a
precaution would be highly proper. The field in which the _procestrium_
was, has been brought into cultivation, and a great number of carved
stones, which were found in it, taken to Hoddam Castle. The corners of
the camp are, as is usually the case, rounded; the four gateways are
clearly discernible. The interior area of the station measures three
acres and three-quarters. On the south side of the station a large
vault, arched with stone, was laid open more than a century ago. Popular
credulity has magnified it into an underground passage, which extended
all the way to Burnswark; the people in the neighbourhood aver that they
have known persons go a considerable way along it.

The altars and sculptures found at this place are engraved and
described, apparently with great accuracy, in Stuart’s Caledonia Romana.
Amongst them is a stone tablet, bearing the words—


A piece of another, with the inscription—

                             LEG. XX. VICT.

The lamented author of this work says—

  With the exception of a brass coin of Germanicus, and the inscription
  containing the name of Hadrian, the greater part, if not all the
  antiquities found at Birrens, may be ascribed perhaps to the third or
  fourth century. The striking similarity of style and execution which
  exists between them and the bulk of those discovered in the north of
  England, of which the dates can be ascertained, is sufficient to stamp
  them as the productions of a period subsequent to the reign of
  Septimius Severus.—_Caledonia Romana_, 130.

It did not belong to the author’s subject; to inquire, how the fact of
so few of the memorials of the mural line being of the age of Severus,
comported with the popular idea that he built the Wall!


_BURNSWARK_, or Birrenswork.—A solitary hill, nearly three miles to the
north-west of Middleby, rises to the height of nearly seven hundred and
forty feet above the level of the sea. 'On its top lies an unequal
plain, about nine hundred feet long, by four hundred and fifty of mean
width—almost inaccessible on two of its sides, and by no means of easy
attainment on any.'[132] From this elevated summit, the mountain ridges
which are scattered over not fewer than six of the Scottish counties can
be descried; looking eastward, the Nine-nicks of Thirlwall are in sight;
southward, the familiar forms of Skiddaw, Saddleback, and Cross-fell
rise into view; to the south-west, the craggy peaks of the Isle of Man
arrest the attention in favourable states of the atmosphere; and, not
unfrequently a long, black streak, on the distant verge of the ocean,
indicates the position of Ireland. According to the former political
divisions of the British empire, four kingdoms were thus to be seen from

So commanding a position was not neglected by the ancient Britons.
'Around the area of the summit may still be traced the remains of a
wall, composed of earth and stones, which seems to have been raised at
every spot where the precipitous rock did not of itself afford
sufficient protection.' Unhappily most of the stones have been hurled
into the valley below, to form a long boundary fence. The enclosure is
divided into two compartments of nearly equal size; one of them contains
a circular range of stones, the remains apparently of an ancient cairn
or watch-tower.

[Sidenote: CAMPS ON THE HILL.]

On two of the sides of Burnswark are the vestiges of Roman military
works. The largest, which is on the southern slope, encloses an area of
twelve acres. It has been originally encompassed by two ramparts,
separated, as usual, by a deep trench; it had three gates on the upper,
and apparently the same number on the under side, with a single one at
each end. These gateways have been protected by circular mounds, thrown
up before them, and fortified on the top. The pretorium, or general’s
quarters, defended by an entrenchment of its own, was placed on the
north-west angle of the camp. This circumstance would seem to warrant us
in supposing, that, even in the stationary camps of the Wall, the
pretorium was not uniformly placed in the upper part of the central
area, where, according to the usual theory, we should expect to find it.
All the entrenchments are of earth, and on the north side they are
peculiarly bold.

The camp on the northern face of the hill has been constructed upon the
same principle, but is in a less perfect condition. It is of the same
length, but has only half its breadth. A covered way conducts from the
one to the other. It is probable that both these camps have been the
summer quarters, _castra æstiva_, of the garrison at Middleby. So
important a position would not, however, at any period of the year be
abandoned to the enemy; 'when not filled with the tents of its summer
inhabitants, it is probable that a small garrison was maintained on its


_PLUMPTON._—Several camps south of the line, and at nearly equal
distances from the Wall and from one another, added security to the
fortification in the western district. Plumpton, or Old Penrith, called
in the locality by the common name of Castlesteads, is a large station
about thirteen miles south of Carlisle. The conjecture of Horsley
ascribed to it, the name of BREMETENRACUM. The turnpike-road goes close
past it, as did the ancient Roman way which led from LUGUVALLIUM to the
south of Britain. The station presents the usual characteristics of a
Roman camp. Though not much elevated, it is sufficiently raised to enjoy
a most extensive view of the surrounding country. The western side is
the strongest, being protected by the deep but narrow valley in which
the river Peterel flows. Its ramparts are boldly marked, and the
interior of the station is filled up to their level by a mass of
prostrate habitations. The largest heap of ruins is on the north-east
quarter; it may be the remains of the pretorium. The fosse is well
defined on the north, south, and west sides. Enough of the eastern gate
remains to shew that it has been a double portal. One stone of the
threshold yet retains its position; it is worn by the feet of the
ancient tenants of the city, and is circularly chafed by the action of
the door in opening and shutting. Several very large stones, which have
been used in the construction of the south gateway, lie near their
original site—some of them yet exhibit the holes in which the pivots of
the doors turned. The line of the street, which went from the eastern to
the western gateway (_via principalis_), is discernible. On the outside
of the south-east corner of the station, an arched chamber, or passage,
was discovered a few years ago; but it is now filled up with rubbish.

[Sidenote: OLD PENRITH.]

Extensive remains of ancient foundations have been removed from the
field on the east of the station; here, according to tradition, Old
Penrith stood. There are also indications of suburban buildings to the
west of the station. In the neighbourhood of the camp, and even at some
distance from it, we meet, in the houses and stone fences, with such a
number of the small neat stones which were usually employed in the
construction of Roman dwellings, as to impress us with the idea, that
the suburban buildings were very extensive in every direction.

In recently lowering a part of the turnpike-road, about a quarter of a
mile south of the station, a well, cased with Roman masonry, was
exposed. It is square, and is set diagonally to the road; it now
copiously supplies the neighbouring farm-houses, which formerly were, in
dry seasons, much inconvenienced by the scarcity of water.

Several sculptured, and inscribed stones, as well as coins, have been
found here; but none of them are of a nature sufficiently interesting to
detain us longer at Plumpton.

[Sidenote: OLD CARLISLE.]

_OLD CARLISLE_ is nearly two miles south of Wigton. The station is a
large one; the ruins of its ramparts and interior buildings are boldly
marked. A double ditch, with intervening vallum, seems to have
surrounded the fort. The rivulet Wiza runs in a deep ravine immediately
below the station, on its west side, and at a remoter distance, on its
south also, thereby lending to it additional strength. [Illustration:
Altar to Jupiter for the safety of Severus] The remains of suburban
buildings may still be seen outside the walls, on the south, east, and
west. Within the fort, a street may be distinctly traced from the north
to the south gate, and another from the east towards the west. Near the
centre of the station is a moist spot of ground where we may conceive a
well to have been. Up to a recent period, the Roman roads leading from
this station on the one hand, to Carlisle, and on the other to Maryport,
were distinctly visible. Of the many important inscribed stones dug out
of this station, that which is represented above is probably the most
interesting. It was found in the year 1775, about two hundred yards east
of the camp, and is now in the collection at Netherby.

                        I[OVI] O[PTIMO] M[AXIMO]
                              PRO SALVT[E]
                      IMP[ERATORIS] L. SEPTIM[II]
                       SEVERI AVG[VSTI] N[OSTRI]
                              EQVITES ALAE
                           AVG[VSTÆ] CVRANTE
                             EGNATIO VERE-
                               CVNDO PRA-
                          EF[ECTVS] POSVERVNT

                     To Jupiter, best and greatest.
                             For the safety
                    of the emperor Lucius Septimius
                         Severus, our Augustus;
                    The cavalry of the wing _styled_
                  the Augustan, under the direction of
                             Egnatius Vere-
                              cundus pre-
                          fect, placed _this_.


_MARYPORT._—On the cliffs overhanging the modern town of Maryport, are
the manifest remains of a large Roman station. Its position gives it a
commanding view of the Solway Firth and Irish Channel. The camp is a
very large one, and the lines of its ramparts are very boldly developed.
The eastern side, which is the only one that is not defended by a
natural defile, or valley, was protected by a double ditch. There are
some traces of masonry also near the gateway on this side, which render
it probable that this entrance had been guarded by additional outworks.
Some portions of this gateway remain; the sill of it is strongly marked
by the action of chariot wheels. The ruts are about five inches deep,
and five feet ten inches apart. Within the station is a well, encased
with circular masonry. The interior of the station was excavated in
1766. The following account of the appearances which were then observed,
is given in Lysons’ Cumberland:—

  The workmen found the arch of the gate beat violently down and broken;
  and on entering the great street, discovered evident marks of the
  houses having been more than once burnt to the ground and rebuilt; an
  event not unlikely to have happened on so exposed a frontier. The
  streets had been paved with broad flag-stones, much worn by use,
  particularly the steps into a vaulted room, supposed to have been a
  temple. The houses had been roofed by Scotch slates, which, with the
  pegs which fastened them, lay confusedly in the streets. Glass
  vessels, and even mirrors were found; and coals had evidently been
  used in the fire places. Foundations of buildings were round the fort
  on all sides.

[Sidenote: HOSPITAL CAMP.]

In the grounds of Nether Hall, the seat of J. Pocklington Senhouse,
esq., is a small entrenchment containing an area of about an acre and a
half; it is in a low and sheltered position, and has probably been a
retreat for invalids. Ancient roads have diverged from this station,
leading to Bowness, Wigton, and Papcastle. On draining, lately, the
fields on the line of road leading towards Old Carlisle, its pavement
was met with, and to a great extent removed. The body of the road was
composed of large granite boulders, some of them a quarter of a ton in
weight; the interstices being filled up with smaller stones. On the
south side of this way several slabs of stone were found, lying flat on
the ground. They probably covered the ashes of the dead; fragments of
red pottery and glass were found beneath them.

[Illustration: Altar to Jupiter, Maryport]


Very numerous and very important are the remains of antiquity which this
station has yielded. With the exception of one fine altar, they are all
carefully preserved in the house and grounds at Nether Hall. Many of the
sculptured stones which have been found here, are more highly carved and
more tastefully designed than is usual in the mural region. An altar to
the genius of the place, which has been removed to Whitehaven Castle,
and will be described in the last Part of this work, is characterized by
Camden as ‘_ara pulcherrima affabrè artificio antiquo exculpta_,’ and a
more graceful altar than that which is shewn in this cut, we have not
met with in our mural peregrination. It is important, also, as proving
the residence here of the '_prima cohors Hispanorum_.' In consequence,
probably, of some service done to Hadrian this cohort seems,
subsequently to the dedication of this altar, to have obtained the title
of Ælia and the rank of _milliaria equitata_. The inscription may be

                        I[OVI] O[PTIMO] M[AXIMO]
                        COH[ORS] I HIS[PANORVM]
                             CVI PRAE[EST]
                            MA[RCVS] MAENI-
                              VS AGRIP[PA]

                   To Jupiter, the best and greatest.
                  This first cohort of the Spaniards,
                              Commanded by
                              Marcus Mæni-
                               us Agrippa
                              The Tribune,
                            Erected _this_.

A plain, square, but now partially fractured, pillar, inscribed, ROMAE
AETERNAE ET FORTVNAE REDVCI, is reserved to form the concluding cut on
the last page of this volume. It is a striking memorial at once of the
aspiring pretensions and blighted prospects of the imperial city. A
boar, the symbol of the twentieth legion, exhibiting more than the usual
spirit, forms the vignette at the close of this Part; and the slab which
bears testimony to the labours which the second, and twentieth, legion
underwent in constructing the works of this station, is introduced at
the close of the Part devoted to the discussion of the question ‘Who
built the Wall?’ There is preserved in the piazza at Nether Hall, a
carving in relief of a warrior on horseback trampling on a fallen enemy;
the drawing is not strictly correct, but is very spirited, and the
foreshortening of the horse’s head remarkably good. Besides these, there
are several large and instructive altars and funereal slabs, as well as
a tablet having a Greek inscription to this effect—Aulus Egnatius Pastor
set up this to Æsculapius.

The minor antiquities consist of fragments of tiles, one of which bears
the stamp of the first cohort of the Spaniards, a bronze pot bearing a
marked resemblance to some which are in modern use, several earthenware
vessels of large size, and quite perfect, implements of iron, and
weapons of war. Amongst the coins which have been found in the station,
are a great many forged denarii of Trajan and Hadrian. They are chiefly
formed of lead, and are badly made; in some instances the metal has not
reached the centre of the mould, and in scarcely any have the edges of
the casting been properly dressed. Genuine coin must have been
exceedingly scarce among the soldiery of the camp, and their credulity
very great, to allow of the circulation of such base imitations.


A large artificial mound or barrow is to the left of the station. The
inhabitants had an old tradition respecting it; they conceived it to be
the sepulchre of a king. It was opened in 1763; near its centre ‘the
pole and shank bones of an ox’ were found, but neither urns, burnt
bones, nor coins, were discovered.

There is great uncertainty about the ancient name of this fort. Camden
pronounced it to be OLENACUM, chiefly influenced by the resemblance in
sound between it and the name of the neighbouring village of
Ellenborough (Maryport is but of recent origin). This supposition
gathers force from the fact that in ancient documents the river Ellen,
which gives name to the place, is written ‘Alne’ and ‘Olne.’

_PAPCASTLE_ is about six miles south-east of Maryport. Numerous relics
of antiquity have been found here, but little now remains to mark it out
as the site of a Roman station except its extraordinary fertility. The
town of Cockermouth, a mile to the south of the fort, is supposed to
have risen from its ruins.

The forts which we have already examined may be thought sufficient to
support the line of the Wall. The peculiar circumstances of its western
extremity will perhaps justify us in reckoning Moresby, notwithstanding
its distance from the Wall, among the out-stations of the Barrier. Not
only does the Scottish coast, by projecting considerably beyond the
western termination of the Wall, facilitate the invasion of the
intra-mural portion of the island—but Ireland, the native land of the
Scoto-Celts, is nigh at hand. It was necessary to prevent, not only the
inhabitants of Caledonia landing on the coast of Cumberland, but the
‘Scots,’ also, who at that time ‘poured out of Ireland.’ Another
sea-port station, south of Maryport, was therefore requisite.

[Sidenote: CAMP AT MORESBY.]

_MORESBY_, within a short distance of Whitehaven, still exhibits the
remains of a Roman camp. It occupies a commanding position, enjoying
especially an extensive marine prospect. Its western and southern
ramparts are still good. The parish church and church-yard border upon
its eastern wall. A sculptured stone, evidently chiselled by Roman
hands, lies upon the spot, under the ruined chancel-arch of the old
church. The important slab, of which the wood-cut gives a
representation, was found in digging for the foundations of the present
parish church. It is another of the interesting testimonies which we
have of the energy and influence of the emperor Hadrian in those parts.
Like the Milking-gap inscription, it gives the name of the emperor in
the genitive case.

[Illustration: Slab to Hadrian, Moresby]

[Sidenote: FORT AT MALBRAY.]

A military way ran along the coast from this station, by way of
Maryport, to the extremity of the Wall, at Bowness. By this means, the
defence of the coast could be more effectually secured. As the distance
between Maryport and Bowness is considerable, a small camp was planted
at Malbray, which is about midway between the two places. The site of it
is now a ploughed field.

We have now taken a hasty review of the stations on both sides of the
Wall, which have supported that structure. Never, assuredly, was a
dangerous frontier more securely guarded. So long as the stations were
supplied with vigilant and well-disciplined troops, no foe, however well
armed, could successfully attempt the passage of the Barrier of the
Lower Isthmus.

[Sidenote: MURAL SCENES.]

Even the cursory view that we have taken of the subject, entitles us to
say, that the boldness of the design was worthy of Rome in the zenith of
her glory; and that the manner in which the project was carried out was
becoming a nation with whom to conceive was to execute.

If we turn our attention for a moment from the work, to the object for
which it was intended, regret, that man should use his ingenuity for the
purposes of aggression and bloodshed, will take the place of admiration.
Milton aptly describes the scenes which this region would often

           He look’d, and saw wide territory spread
           Before him, towns, and rural works between,
           Cities of men with lofty gates and towers,
           Concourse in arms, _fierce faces_ threatening war,
           Giants of mighty bone, and bold emprise;
           Part wield their arms ...
           ... now scattered lies
           With carcases and arms th' ensanguined field
           ... Others from THE WALL defend
           With dart and javelin....
           On each hand slaughter and gigantic deeds.
           Adam was all in tears.
                                _Paradise Lost_, xi. 638-674.

[Illustration: Symbol of Leg. xx. v. v.]


Footnote 128:

  An earthen encampment is cut in two by the Newcastle and Berwick
  railway, in the second field south of the Netherton station. In the
  space of three fields, lying east of this camp, three others may be
  distinctly discerned, varying in size from forty to seventy yards
  square. At Dove-cote, which is less than a mile west of Netherton
  station, is a large field covered with the ruins of stone buildings.
  Excavations in one portion at least of the ground yield large
  quantities of glazed pottery. The remains are apparently mediæval, but
  it is remarkable that no record of ruins so extensive is known to

Footnote 129:

  Hutchinson says (A.D. 1778), the altar to Hercules is in the
  possession of the duke of Northumberland; it is not now among those
  preserved at Alnwick-castle. The altar to Astarte is in the collection
  at Netherby.

Footnote 130:

  The last time I was in the crypt, I was impressed with the idea that
  some portions of it were actually of Roman workmanship; if so, St.
  Wilfrid has adapted to his own uses the vaults which he found on the
  spot. The crypt at Ripon, to which this bears a marked resemblance, is
  now understood to be Roman.

Footnote 131:

  Horsley, near the close of his work, was less opposed to this view
  than at the beginning. In a note (_p._ 481), he says—‘I see no reason
  to change my sentiments concerning any one of these stations; except
  that I am more inclined to yield to the common opinion, that
  BREMETENRACUM is at Brampton, and to think that OLENACUM and VIROSIDUM
  are transposed; so that OLENACUM may be Ellenborough, on the river
  Ellen, and VIROSIDUM, Old Carlisle, on the Wiza. And if the
  military-way near the Wall, which goes by Watchcross, has led to
  Brampton, as the country people suppose, this might still make it more
  probable, that Brampton is BREMETENRACUM.’

Footnote 132:

  Caledonia Romana, 131.

Footnote 133:

  Caledonia Romana, 134.




                      ~The Roman Barrier of the
                          Lower Isthmus.~

                                PART V.

Our course hitherto has been a detail of facts; now we enter upon the
region of speculation. In the former Parts of this work, the history of
the Roman occupation of Britain has been briefly told and an attempt
made to depict the present condition of the Vallum and Wall, with their
camps, castles, and outworks; now the question must be put—Is the
Barrier the Work of one master-mind, or are its several parts the
productions of different periods, and of different persons? Had the
statements of the ancient historians upon the subject been explicit and
consistent, the inquiry would involve simply an appeal to their
authority; unhappily, the information which they afford is not only very
meagre, but of a character so unsatisfactory, as to compel us to sift
their evidence, and to compare it with the facts which we glean from an
examination of the fortifications themselves.


Agricola, we are informed by Tacitus, erected forts both on the Lower
and Upper Isthmus; we are nowhere told that he drew walls, whether of
earth or stone, across either of them. The northern rampart of the
Vallum has by many been conceived to be the work of Agricola. In the
absence of any direct historical testimony bearing upon this subject,
the circumstance that the lines of the Vallum pursue a course precisely
parallel to each other, must be considered as fatal to this theory. It
is altogether incredible, that two engineers should at different periods
construct independent works, without crossing each other’s ramparts. In
Roy’s Military Antiquities, several instances are given where the
trenches of one encampment cut arbitrarily those of another, the troops
who last occupied the post, not seeming to pay the least attention to
the works of their predecessors; the lines of the Vallum would doubtless
exhibit the same appearance had they been the works of different
periods. The claims of Agricola to the authorship of any part of the
Vallum may therefore at once be set aside, and the inquiry be confined
to the relative claims of Hadrian and Severus.


If the parallelism of the lines of the Vallum be fatal to the theory,
that one of the mounds is the work of Agricola, and the others the work
of Hadrian, a similar mode of reasoning leads to the conclusion, that
the Vallum and the Wall cannot be independent structures. If Severus,
finding that the earth-works of Hadrian had fallen into decay, or were
no longer sufficient to wall out the Caledonians, had determined to
erect a more formidable Barrier, would he not have mapped out its track
without any reference to the former ruinous and inefficient erection?
Had he done so, we should find the lines taking independent
courses—sometimes contiguous, occasionally crossing each other;
sometimes widely separated, seldom pursuing for any distance a parallel
course, but the Wall, as the latest built, uniformly seizing the
strongest points, whether previously occupied by the Vallum or not.
This, however, is not the case; the Wall and Vallum, in crossing the
island, pursue precisely the same track from sea to sea; for the most
part they are in close companionship, and in no instance does the Wall
cut in upon the trenches of the Vallum. At the first view of the
subject, therefore, we should be disposed to question the accuracy of
the opinion which gives to these works distinct dates, and ascribes the
Vallum to Hadrian, and the stone Wall to Severus. Before further
prosecuting this inquiry, it will be well to lay before the reader all
the statements of the ancient historians upon the matter in question; he
will by this means see the necessity of appealing to the structures
themselves for a satisfactory decision of the question.


Herodian was contemporary with Severus, and professes to have been an
eye-witness of all that he relates. He gives a detailed account of the
emperor’s proceedings in Britain, but does not once mention the Wall.
Dion Cassius was also contemporary with Severus. As before observed,
that part of the original work which treats of Britain is lost; we have,
however, Xiphiline’s abridgment of it. The only reference which he makes
to the Wall, comports with its existence previous to the arrival of
Severus in Britain, Speaking of that emperor’s expedition against the
Caledonians, he says—

  Nor did he ever return from this expedition, but died three years
  after he first set out from Rome. He got a prodigious mass of riches
  in Britain. The two most considerable bodies of people in that island,
  and to which almost all the rest relate, are the Caledonians and the
  Meatæ. _The latter dwell near the Barrier Wall_ (οιχουσι δε οἱ μεν
  Μαιαται προς αυτῳ τῳ διατειχισματι, ὁ την νῆσον διχῆ τεμνει) _which
  divides the island into two parts_.

Spartian, writing about A.D. 280, is the first person who gives us any
direct information about the erection of a Wall; and it is on his
testimony chiefly that the credit of the work has been given to Severus.
Speaking of Hadrian, he says—

  He went to Britain where he corrected many things, and first drew a
  Wall (_murumque primus duxit_) eighty miles long, to separate the
  Romans from the barbarians.

No testimony could be more explicit than this in favour of the view that
Hadrian built the Wall. As this writer, however, subsequently ascribes
the work to Severus, many are of opinion that Spartian here speaks of
the Vallum, not of the stone Wall. Mere verbal criticism will not decide
the point, but it may be observed in passing, that although the words
_murus_ and _vallum_ are occasionally interchanged by Latin authors, the
term (_murus_) which Spartian uses in the passage, taken strictly, means
a stone wall. Speaking of Severus, the same writer says—

  He fortified Britain with a Wall drawn (_muro ducto_) across the
  island, and ending on each side at the sea, which was the chief glory
  of his reign, and for which he received the name of Britannicus.

The same writer, in a subsequent chapter, makes a second reference to
the Wall, which is of some importance in discussing the question.
Narrating an incident which occurred near the Wall, he says—

  After the Wall or Vallum in Britain was completed, and the emperor was
  returning to the next stage _not as conqueror only, but as founder of
  eternal peace_, and was thinking within himself what omen might happen
  to him, an Ethiopian soldier, famous as a mimic, and noted for his
  jokes, crossed his path, crowned with cypress. Struck with the colour
  of the man, and his crown, he was angry with him, and ordered him to
  be put out of his sight, when the fellow is reported, by way of a
  joke, to have said—'Thou hast been everything—conquered everything:
  now conqueror, be a god!'

Julius Capitolinus, a writer who flourished about the same time as
Spartian (A.D. 280) speaking of the Antonine Wall, uses an expression
which seems to imply, that the only previously existing Barrier was one
of turf. He says—

  Antoninus, by his legate Lollius Urbicus, conquered the Britons, the
  barbarians being secluded by _another_ earthen wall (_alio muro
  cespiticio ducto_).

All the remaining classical historians sum up in favour of Severus;
they, however, probably only re-echo the statements of Spartian, with a
slight addition of errors of their own. Eusebius Pamphilius says, that—

  Clodius Albinus being slain at Lyons, Severus made war upon the
  Britons, and in order to render the subject provinces more secure from
  barbaric invasion, he drew a Wall from sea to sea, an hundred and
  thirty-two miles long.

Aurelius Victor, who wrote about A.D. 360, recording his great exploits,

  He achieved greater things than those, for after repulsing the enemy
  in Britain, he drew a Wall from sea to sea.

The younger Victor, in his epitome of the work of the elder, says—

  He drew a Vallum thirty-two miles long from sea to sea.

Eutropius wrote about the year 360. He says—

  Severus’s last war was in Britain; he drew a Wall of thirty-two miles
  from sea to sea.

Paulus Orosius, who wrote A.D. 417, says, that the conqueror Severus—

  Having fought many severe battles, determined to separate the part of
  the island which he had recovered, from the tribes that remained
  unsubdued, and, therefore, drew a deep fosse, and a very strong Vallum
  (_magnam fossam firmissimumque vallum_), strengthened with numerous
  towers, from sea to sea, over a space of one hundred and thirty-two

Cassiodorus, who wrote A.D. 520, gives a similar testimony. Among the
events of the consulship of Aper and Maximus (A.D. 207), he enumerates
the transference of the war by Severus to Britain—

  Where, that he might render the subject provinces more secure against
  the incursions of the barbarians, he drew a Wall (_vallum_) from sea
  to sea, one hundred and thirty-two miles in length.


Such are the statements of the Roman historians respecting the
authorship of the Wall. Several circumstances tend to invalidate the
claim which they make in behalf of Severus. The first author who
attributes the Wall to Severus is Spartian, a weak writer, who lived in
an ignorant age, and nearly a century after the time of Severus. Surely
his assertion will not be allowed to outweigh the negative testimony of
Herodian and Dion Cassius, the contemporaries of Septimius Severus. Of
all the authors who mention the length of the Wall, the only one who
approaches correctness is Spartian, when speaking of the Wall, which he
states that Hadrian drew from sea to sea; eighty Roman miles is very
nearly the true length. The other writers call it thirty-two, [Sidenote:
SPARTIAN INCONSISTENT.]or one hundred and thirty-two. Admitting, as some
have supposed, that the larger number is an error, occasioned by some
careless transcriber’s inserting in the copies the centurial number (C),
which did not exist in the original, the difficulty is not removed.
Thirty-two Roman miles is the length of the Barrier of the Upper
Isthmus, not of the Lower, and these writers seem to have confounded the
one with the other. Buchanan, Usher, and several writers, who were as
capable of weighing the evidence furnished by the ancient historians as
we are, have accordingly maintained, that the Wall which extended from
the Forth to the Clyde, is that which was reared by Severus. This
opinion we now know, from the inscriptions found upon it, to be
erroneous; but the fact that it was entertained by such able scholars,
proves the incompleteness of the historic evidence upon the subject.
Milton correctly estimates the vague nature of this testimony. He

  Severus, on the frontiers of what he had firmly conquered, builds a
  wall across the island from sea to sea; which our author judges the
  most magnificent of all his other deeds; and that he thence received
  the style of Britannicus; in length a hundred and thirty-two miles.
  Orosius adds, it is fortified with a deep trench, and between certain
  spaces many towers or battlements. The place whereof, some will have
  to be in Scotland, the same which Lollius Urbicus had walled before.
  Others affirm it only Hadrian’s work re-edified; both plead
  authorities, and the ancient track, yet visible: but this I leave,
  among the studious of these antiquities, to be discussed more at
  large.—(_History of England_, _bk._ ii.)

Spartian, moreover, invalidates his own testimony when he says, that the
erection of this Wall was the greatest glory of Severus’s reign (_quod
maximum ejus imperii decus est_). The Wall is indeed a magnificent work;
it is, as Stukely characterizes it, ‘the noblest monument’ of Roman
power ‘in Europe;’ but if reared by Severus, it is, a lasting monument
of his failure. He came to Britain panting for renown—he resolved to
reduce the whole island to his subjection—to make the sea-girt cliffs of
Northern Caledonia his barrier. The efforts which he put forth were
worthy of his resolve—‘In a word,’ says Dion Cassius, ‘Severus lost
fifty thousand men there, and yet quitted not his enterprise.’ Were the
abandonment of the Wall of Antonine, and the withdrawal of the frontier
to the southern Isthmus, where Hadrian, eighty years before, had
prudently fixed it, the glorious results of all his aspirations?
Spartian assuredly errs, if not in saying that Severus built the Wall,
at least in stating that this was the great boast of his reign.


When, too, we may ask, did he build the Wall? not assuredly when he
issued forth on the expedition that was to win him so much renown, and
which occupied him the greater part of the time he was in Britain. He
was then bent upon aggression, not defence. Neither is it probable that
he would do it on his return. According to Spartian, he had at that time
proved himself not only victorious, but the founder of eternal peace,
and thus had removed all ground for apprehension in the direction of
Caledonia. Or, on the other hand, according to the more accurate and
trustworthy historians, Herodian and Dion Cassius, he was returning worn
out with disease and the endless fatigues he had sustained; chagrined at
the havoc which the islanders had made in his army, though they
uniformly refused to hazard a general engagement; and broken-hearted at
the misconduct and ingratitude of his sons, and so would, we may
suppose, have been deficient in the spirit and the means to embark in so
large a work. That he should have repaired some of the stations,
particularly those upon the line of his march, when about to enter upon
what he hoped to be the crowning enterprise of his life, and that he
should have maintained garrisons in them to make good his communications
with the south, is not only probable, but is rendered almost certain by
the inscriptions which several of them have yielded; but that, in such
circumstances, he should have planned and executed the whole line of the
Wall, its castles and turrets, and several of the stations, is almost


But it may be asked, if Hadrian formed the whole Barrier, how is it that
the popular voice should ascribe the most important part of it not to
him, but to Severus? That the Wall is generally called by the name of
Severus, is at once admitted. So long ago as the reign of Elizabeth,
Spencer wrote—

             Next there came Tyne, along whose stony bank
             That Roman monarch built a brazen wall,
             Which mote the feebled Britons strongly flank
             Against the Picts, that swarmed over all,
             Which yet thereof _Gualsever_ they do call.

Popular testimony, apart from the authentic records of history, is of
value for our present purpose only so far as it is the traditional
statement of the knowledge of those who lived when the event took place.
The nearer to its source that we trace a tradition, the clearer and more
unequivocal it will become, if it have its origin in truth. The popular
opinion that Severus built the Wall, will not stand this test. Whatever
value may be attached to the testimony of Gildas, the first British
historian, it is not denied that he records correctly the hear-say
evidence of his day. He does not mention Severus, but tells us, that
after the departure of the Romans, the Britons, distressed by the Picts
and Scots, sought the assistance of their former conquerors, and at
their suggestion, and with their assistance, raised first a wall of
turf, and afterwards, when that was found insufficient, a wall of stone.
The narrative of Gildas has been already given. (_p._ 29.)


Bede refers to the opinion that Severus built the stone Wall, only to
refute it; he says—

  Severus was drawn into Britain by the revolt of almost all the
  confederate tribes; and, after many great and dangerous battles, he
  thought fit to divide that part of the island which he had recovered
  from the other unconquered nations, not with a wall, as some imagine,
  but with a rampart. For a wall is made of stones, but a rampart, with
  which camps are fortified to repel the assaults of enemies, is made of
  sods, cut out of the earth, and raised above the ground all around
  like a wall, having in front of it the ditch whence the sods were
  taken, and strong stakes of wood fixed upon its top. Thus Severus drew
  a great ditch and strong rampart, fortified with several towers, from
  sea to sea; and was afterwards taken sick, and died at York.

He then repeats Gildas’ account of the origin of the Wall, and
adds—‘that it was not far from the trench of Severus.’

These quotations are made simply to prove, that the testimony of
tradition, at a period not long subsequent to the departure of the
Romans, was by no means decisive; no stress ought, therefore, now to be
laid upon it.


The popular report, which ascribes the building of the Wall to Severus,
is the less worthy of credit, inasmuch as it imputes to him also the
building of the northern Barrier, which we know was the work of Lollius
Urbicus, in the reign of Antonine. Pinkerton says, 'As to the Welsh name
of _Gual Sever_, which it is said they give to the Wall in the North of
England, it is also given to that between the Firths of Scotland.[134] A
small grave-stone, which was discovered in Falkirk church-yard, in the
immediate neighbourhood of the Antonine Wall, about the year 1815,
confirms the testimony of Pinkerton upon this point. The inscription, a
cast of which I have seen, records the burial there, in the reign of
Fergus II., of ‘a knight, Rob. Graham, who first threw down the Wall of
Severus’ (ILLE EVERSVS VALL. SEVER). If popular opinion has erred with
reference to the one Wall, it may have erred with respect to the other

But we ought not to expect minute accuracy in a tradition transmitted
through many generations. It is enough that the general impress of the
truth remains. It is nothing surprising, that, after the lapse even of a
century or two, the name of Severus should have been connected with
every military stronghold in the northern section of the island. As
having inflicted the last and heaviest blow upon it, his hated memory
would be the longest retained.

In the absence of any decisive testimony from the historians of Rome,
respecting the emperor who upreared the Murus, we may next examine the
inscribed stones which have been found upon it.


In some instances, inscriptions attached to Roman buildings give their
history with great particularity. This is the case with the Antonine
Wall in Scotland. Slabs inserted at intervals, record the name of the
reigning emperor, of his legate, of the troops engaged upon the work,
and also the number of paces executed by each detachment. Unfortunately
these commemorative slabs are of rare occurrence in the Lower Barrier,
and the information given by such as do exist, is very scanty. This will
appear the more surprising, if we bear in mind that the English Wall is
not only twice as long as the other, but is built of stone throughout;
the Scotch Wall is chiefly formed of earth. On the theory, that Hadrian
reared all the members of the Barrier, the paucity of inscriptions
admits of easy explanation. The custom of raising these memorials did
not commence until his day, and at the time of the erection of the Wall
was probably in its infancy; the practice was in vogue during the reigns
of several of his successors, and was not discontinued until after the
time of Caracalla. If, on the other hand, Severus built the Wall, it is
a most unaccountable thing that his soldiers have left no record of the
fact upon the line of the Wall itself, and but very scanty traces of his
name even in the out-stations. This is [Sidenote: PAUCITY OF
INSCRIPTIONS TO SEVERUS.] the more remarkable, when we remember that the
Wall was built by the same legions as were employed upon the Vallum of
the Upper Barrier. The Antonine Wall was constructed by the twentieth
legion and by vexillations of the second, and sixth. On the mural line
of the Lower Barrier we frequently meet with stones inscribed with the
names and insignia of the second, and sixth, legion, and occasionally
with those of the twentieth. If the English Wall was built in A.D. 210,
as is generally stated, how is it that the troops disregarded a custom
so natural and so laudable as that which was practised so extensively by
their predecessors, in A.D. 140? Extensive repairs were made by
Caracalla at HABITANCUM, BREMENIUM, and some other stations; of these we
have distinct records in the inscriptions which remain. How is it, if
the mind and hand of his father gave being to the magnificent fence of
the English isthmus, that not one of the many stones which he upreared
records the fact? Mural slabs and contemporary historians are alike
silent upon the subject, and, probably, for the simple reason that
Severus did not build it.

It will serve the purposes of truth to cite all the instances in which
the name of either emperor has been found upon the line; wood-cuts of
all to which I have had access, have been already presented to the


The name of Hadrian occurs in many instances. At Jarrow a stone was
found, and is figured in Brand, which was inscribed OMNIVM FIL.
HADRIANI. In the foundations of the castellum at Milking-gap a stone was
discovered (p. 234), bearing in bold letters the name of the emperor,
and of his legate Aulus Platorius Nepos. At Chesterholm a fragment of a
precisely similar inscription was found (p. 241). In the neighbourhood
of Bradley, two fragments were discovered, which, when placed together,
give us an accurate copy of the same inscription (p. 232). In the ruins
of the castellum near Cawfields, was a portion of another, with a
precisely similar inscription (p. 251); and near the eastern gateway of
ÆSICA a large tablet was dug up, bearing the name of the same emperor
(p. 256). In an outhouse, which probably occupies the site of a
castellum, at Chapel-house, in Cumberland, a stone was found, which
mentions Hadrian and the twentieth legion (p. 274). Horsley describes a
slab which he saw at Bewcastle, bearing the following inscription—

                         _IMP._ CAES. TRA_IANO_
                             _HADRIANO AVG.
                         L_EG. II AVG. ET XX V.
                            LICINIO PR_ISCO_
                           LEG. AVG. PR. PR.

In Gough’s Camden, a stone, inscribed to Hadrian by the second legion,
is stated to have been found at Middleby; and at Moresby we have the
fine slab now at Whitehaven castle (p. 367).

It will perhaps be said that these inscriptions prove nothing beyond the
universally admitted facts, that many of the stations existed in
Hadrian’s day, and that the Vallum was raised by him. The reply to this
is, that several of them have been found at a distance from any station,
and on the line of the Wall itself, and that too, in positions where it
is farther removed than usual from the Vallum. The occurrence of three
or four of them in mile-castles, seems to prove that they owed their
position there to no accidental circumstance, and no one will deny that
these mile-towers were contemporaneous with the Wall.


The force of these remarks will more clearly appear after ascertaining
what inscriptions bear the name of Severus. If we turn to the inquiry
with the impression that he built the more important member of the
Barrier, we might expect to find the evidences of the activity which
prevailed in his day more abundant than in the time of Hadrian. Such,
however, is not the fact. The one at Hexham (p. 340) was the only
inscription to Severus which was known to Gordon and Horsley. Well might
Gordon, who maintained the Septimian theory, denominate it—‘a very
precious jewel of antiquity.’ Hexham is nearly four miles south of the
Wall. To this must be added the altar discovered at Old Carlisle (p.
360), which is about ten miles distant from the Wall; and another in a
dilapidated state, found at the same place; and the gateway slab found
at HABITANCUM (p. 315), one of the _castra exploratorum_ nearly ten
miles in advance of the Wall, recording the restoration of part of the
fortifications there. Besides these, I know not of any inscriptions to
Severus. I purposely omit all reference to an altar, said to have been
discovered at Netherby, bearing the inscription SEPT. SEVERO IMP. QVI
MVRVM HVNC CONDIDIT, because, both Gordon and Horsley pronounce it to be

[Sidenote: THE GELT QUARRY.]

Much importance is attached by those who advocate the claims of Severus
to the inscription on the face of the ancient quarry, on the river Gelt.
Here, it may be said, is the very spot from which the stones of the Wall
were taken, and the precise date is fixed—the consulship of Aper and
Maximus. That the quarry was used by the Romans at this period, is not a
matter of dispute, but it is very questionable whether much of the stone
from it was used in the building of the Wall, because, suitable
materials could be procured nearer at hand. The year in which Aper and
Maximus were consuls was A.D. 207; the year in which, according to the
received reckoning, Severus came to Britain, was that in which Geta and
Caracalla were consuls, A.D. 208.[136] It is not likely that Severus
would order the stones to be quarried before his arrival in Britain.
But, allowing that the chronology of Severus’ reign is to be received
with some latitude, and granting that he had landed in Britain in A.D.
207, some time would necessarily elapse in making inquiries into the
state of the country, and no inconsiderable period would be occupied in
making surveys, even after the construction of the Wall had been
determined on. The quarry has probably been wrought for some ordinary
purpose, perhaps for the erection of some buildings in the station near
Brampton, at the period in question.


Evidence is not wanting to prove, on the other hand, that quarries near
the line of the Roman Wall were wrought in the time of Hadrian. In an
old quarry near the top of Borcum, or Barcombe (a hill near the village
of Thorngrafton, and opposite to the station of BORCOVICUS), a large
number of Roman coins was found. They are described and figured in the
last Part of this work. Since none of the pieces of this hoard were
later than the time of Hadrian, and the coins of his reign and Trajan’s
were peculiarly fresh, it is agreed that the treasure must have been
deposited in Hadrian’s time. The quarry on Haltwhistle-fell (p. 81), it
will also be remembered, bore the name of the sixth legion, which, if
the reasoning in the next paragraph be admitted, will appear to have
been inscribed before the arrival of Severus in Britain.

It has already been observed that numerous stones along the line bear,
without any addition, the names of the second legion, the sixth, and the
twentieth. There can be no doubt that these legions and their
vexillations executed the principal part of the Work. The main bodies of
these forces, however, had their head-quarters, at the time of the
arrival of Severus, in districts of the country southward of the Barrier
line. The second legion, after the building of the Antonine Wall,
appears to have gone to Carleon, in South Wales, the Isca of the Romans.
The sixth legion removed to York before A.D. 190, where it continued as
long as the Romans remained in the island. Horsley, speaking of the
inscriptions on the Wall which mention this legion,[Sidenote: MOVEMENTS
OF THE LEGIONS.] says, ’some of them, from the characters and other
circumstances, may be supposed as ancient as Hadrian’s reign.' The
twentieth legion had taken up its abode at Chester, the DEVA of the
Romans, as early as the year 154. Though it is probable that Septimius
Severus may have taken detachments of these legions with him in his
Scottish campaign, it is not likely that he would withdraw the main
bodies from forts of such importance; and those which did accompany him
would find the discharge of their military duties sufficiently onerous,
without engaging in a work so vast as the building of the Wall.

But, after all, the works themselves furnish us with the best proof that
the whole is one design, and the production of one period. It is
difficult to conceive how any person can traverse the line of the
Barrier without coming to the conclusion, that all the works—Vallum,
Wall and fosse, turrets, castles, stations, and outposts—are but so many
parts of one great design, essential to each other, and unitedly
contributing to the security of a dangerous frontier. The Murus and the
Vallum throughout their whole course pursue tracks harmonizing with each
other; the Murus, however, selecting those acclivities from which an
attack from the north can be best repulsed—the Vallum, those from which
aggression from the south can be repelled. Stukeley was unable to resist
the evidence of his senses. Speaking of the works in the neighbourhood
of Carvoran, he says—


  I suppose this Wall built by Severus is generally set upon the same
  track as Hadrian’s Wall or Vallum of earth was; for, no doubt, they
  there chose the most proper ground; but there is a Vallum and ditch
  all the way accompanying the Wall, and on the south side of it; and
  likewise studiously choosing the southern declivity of the rising
  ground. I observe, too, the Vallum (Wall?) is always to the north. It
  is surprising that people should fancy this to be Hadrian’s Vallum; it
  might possibly be Hadrian’s work, but may be called the line of
  contravallation; for, in my judgment, the true intent, both of
  Hadrian’s Vallum and Severus’s Wall, was, in effect, to make a camp
  extending across the kingdom; consequently, was fortified both ways,
  north and south: at present, the Wall was the north side of it; that
  called Hadrian’s work, the south side of it; hence we may well suppose
  all the ground of this long camp, comprehended between the Wall and
  the southern rampire, was the property of the soldiers that guarded
  the Wall.—_Iter Boreale_, p. 59.

Speaking of the works westward of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, he says—

  The Vallum runs parallel to the Wall, but upon the declining ground
  south, as the other north; this confirms me in my suspicion, that both
  works were made at the same time, and by the same persons, and with
  intent that this should be a counter-guard to the other, the whole
  included space being military ground.—_Iter Boreale_, 66.

The reader needs scarcely to be reminded of the striking illustration of
these remarks which is furnished by the appearance of the works a little
to the west of Carrhill, and by the fact, that for nearly ten miles in
the middle of their course, the Vallum is commanded by the heights on
which the Wall stands.


Whenever the distance between the Wall and Vallum varies, it is
generally with some obvious design in view. Thus, as Hodgson, who
powerfully supports the view here taken, remarks—

  The Vallum and Murus always contract the width of the interval between
  them as they approach a river, apparently for no other purpose than a
  close protection of the military way, and the defence of one bridge;
  for if they had passed the brooks and rivers on their line at any
  considerable distance from each other, two bridges would have been
  necessary, and two sets of guards to defend them: and here it is not
  unimportant to remark, that the Murus always takes that brow of the
  ridge it traverses, which is precipitous to the north, and never
  deserts its straightest or most defensible course to find a convenient
  situation for a bridge, while the Vallum almost invariably bends
  inwards as it approaches a bridge, and diverges outwards as it leaves
  it.—_Hist. Nor._ II. iii.

Horsley’s plan of the Barrier between CILURNUM and MAGNA, which is
copied on Plate II., will afford several examples of the truth of these

The position of the Vallum and Murus, in relation to the stations,
furnishes additional evidence. The Murus usually forms the northern wall
of the station, or comes up to the northern cheek of its eastern and
western gates, while the Vallum protects its southern rampart, or comes
up to the lower side of its doorways. The two lines give complete
protection to the camps, and to the roads leading to and from them. On
the supposition that the Vallum is an independent fortification, and
that it was constructed nearly a century before the Wall was thought of,
we must concede that its plan was such as to give the stations the least
possible support, to leave them, in short, in a great measure exposed to
the enemy. The manner in which the two walls combine in giving strength
to a station, is very well shewn in Warburton’s plan of the works in the
vicinity of CILURNUM (Plate II). It is scarcely possible to deny the
justice of the remark, which he appends to the title—‘A Plan of CILURNUM
... with part of the Plan of Severus’ Wall and Hadrian’s Vallum, shewing
how they are connected at the stations, and by their mutual relation to
one another, _must have been one entire united defence or


It is not improbable that Severus may have repaired some portions of the
Wall, and perhaps added some few subsidiary defences. Richard of
Cirencester gives us correct information upon several points connected
with Roman Britain, which we do not learn from other authors; it is not
unlikely that his view of the subject of our present study may be the
correct one. He says—

  About this time the emperor Hadrian, visiting this island, erected a
  Wall, justly wonderful, and left Julius Severus his deputy in
  Britain.... Virius Lupus did not perform many splendid actions, for
  his glory was intercepted by the unconquerable Severus, who, having
  rapidly put the enemy to flight, _repaired the Wall of Hadrian_, now
  become ruinous, and restored it to its former perfection. Had he
  lived, he intended to extirpate the very name of the barbarians.

The supposition that Hadrian built the Wall is consistent with the
accounts which historians give us of his attachment to architectural
undertakings. One writer, of great research, says of him—


  No prince, perhaps, ever raised so many public and private edifices as
  Hadrian. In every city of note, throughout the empire, some erection
  perpetuated his memory: bridges, aqueducts, temples, and palaces, rose
  on every hand. Many cities, likewise, were either wholly built or
  repaired by him. _Building seems, indeed, to have been a main feature
  in his system of government._ He was the first who appointed that each
  cohort should have its quota of masons, architects, and all kinds of
  workmen needed for the erection and adornment of public
  edifices.—_Hist. Rome_, _Tract Soc. London 277_.

It is perhaps needless to pursue the subject further. More might easily
be said; but I was unwilling, on a point of so much importance, to say
less. The reader will not fail to perceive what an impressive view the
works of the mural barrier, considered as one vast scheme, and not as a
series of after-thoughts, give of the mighty conceptions and energies of
imperial Rome.

In taking leave of those renowned men, Hadrian and Severus, it may be
allowable to advert to the testimony which, before departing this life,
they are said to have given as to the vanity of all earthly things.
Hadrian, who used to say, that an emperor should be like the sun,
visiting all the regions of the earth, found himself then, in darkness.
His knowledge of the Eleusinian mysteries gave him no peace; he
addressed his soul in these words:—

                       Animula, vagula, blandula
                       Hospes, comesque corporis
                       Quæ nunc abibis in loca
                       Pallidula, rigida, nudula?
                       Nec ut soles dabis joca.

These lines are thus happily imitated by Prior—

           Poor, little, pretty, fluttering thing,
             Must we no longer live together?
           And dost thou prune thy trembling wing,
             To take thy flight thou know’st not whither?
           Thy humorous vein, thy pleasing folly,
             Lies all neglected, all forgot;
           And, pensive, wavering, melancholy,
             Thou dread’st and hop’st thou know’st not what.


Severus’ restless pursuit after happiness was equally vain. His dying
words are said to have been, '_Omnia fui et nihil expedit_'—I have tried
everything, and found nothing of any avail. What a contrast to the
language addressed to him by the Ethiopian soldier—'Thou hast been
everything—conquered everything: now, conqueror, be a god!'

[Illustration: Slab, Leg. II. and Leg. XX.]


Footnote 134:

  Pinkerton’s Inquiry into the History of Scotland, i. 55.

Footnote 135:

  I do not, however, find that the Antonine Wall is now known in the
  district by the name of Severus’ Wall.

Footnote 136:

  See chronological tables of Roman History in Smith’s Dictionary of
  Biography and Mythology.




~The Roman Barrier of the Lower Isthmus.~

                                PART VI.

Most apposite is the remark of Dr. Johnson, that ‘Whatever withdraws us
from the power of our senses; whatever makes the past, the distant, or
the future predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of
thinking beings.’ Few things are so well calculated to produce this
effect, as the altars and lettered tablets that have been left on our
soil by the Romans. When we but glance at them, who is not moved at the
reflection, that they were chiselled by hands which for so many
centuries have mouldered nerveless in the dust!

              Still on its march, unnoticed and unfelt
              Moves on our being. We do live and breathe,
              And we are gone! The spoiler heeds us not;
              We have our spring-time and our rottenness;
              And as we fall, another race succeeds
              To perish likewise.
                                           _Kirke White._

On proceeding to decipher the antique records, our emotions are more
varied and more intense. The old Roman seems to arise from the tomb, and
to reveal his modes of thought and principles of action. His breast
heaves; his heart is laid bare. In lines which his own fingers have
carved, the gods before whom he trembled are declared. Looking on the
very altar at which he knelt, we almost seem to see ‘the mean man bowing
down, and the great man humbling himself.’


The region of the Wall has yielded more inscribed stones of the Roman
period than any other portion of the kingdom. Many of them have already
been presented to the reader; a few others will here be described. The
lettered stones of the mural line may be divided into three
classes—altars, funereal slabs, and centurial stones.


[Sidenote: PARTS OF AN ALTAR.]

The offering of such sacrifices as were supposed to be acceptable to
their deities, formed an essential part of the religion of the Greeks
and Romans. Very numerous are the altars which have been discovered on
the line of the Wall. Many of them are small, some not larger than the
palm of the hand, rough in the workmanship, and without any inscription;
others are of large size, [Illustration: alt=Altar, Deo Vetri] and of
ornate character. The usual form of them is shewn in the annexed cut.
The inscription is on the face of the altar; the base and upper portion
project a little beyond the sides. A small cavity on the top called the
_focus_, or hearth, received the offering. The sides of the altar were
frequently adorned with carvings representing the victims, the
implements used in sacrifice, and insignia of the god. On the altar[137]
before us, we have represented the _præfericulum_, or pitcher, which
contained the wine for the offering; the _patera_, a round, shallow
dish, generally with a handle, which was used in throwing a small
portion of the wine upon the altar; the _securis_, or axe, with which
the animal was slain; and the _culter_, or knife, used in flaying or
dividing it. In the Chesterholm altar, figured _p._ 240, the sacrificial
ox is represented; and on the sides of the altar to Jupiter, which is
shewn on page 290, the thunder-bolt of the god, and the wheel of
Nemesis— the emblem of swift vengeance—are given. The small size of the
_focus_ proves that the offerings presented to the deities occupied a
very small bulk. When an animal was slain, a portion of the entrails was
often all that fell to the lot of the god.

               Idibus in magni castus Jovis æde sacerdos
               Semimaris flammis viscera libat ovis.[138]
                                  _Ovid’s Fasti_, i. 587.


Frequently the offering consisted of a little barley-meal, some fruit,
some frankincense, or chips of fragrant wood, with wine or milk.
Occasions of sacrifice were often times of merry-making. The slain
victim and the dedicated wine formed the ready materials of a feast.
Ovid sarcastically represents an old woman performing the rites due to
the goddess of Silence; upon her offering (three grains of incense) she
allows a few drops of wine to fall, and assisted by her companions,
though needing little help, she drinks up the remainder, departing from
her devotions tipsy, and anything but taciturn.

         Ecce anus ... annosa,
         Et digitis tria thura tribus sub limine ponit
         Vina quoque instillat. Vini, quodcumque relictum est,
         Aut ipsa, aut comites, plus tamen ipsa, bibit.
         ... ebriaque exit anus.
                                             _Fasti_, ii. 571.


As might be expected, many altars are dedicated to Jupiter, the king and
father, as he was styled, of gods and men. The wood-cut represents a
very fine one, which was found in the station at Chesterholm, and is now
preserved under the piazza of the House.

[Illustration: Large Altar to Jupiter]

                        I[OVI] O[PTIMO] M[AXIMO]
                          DIIS IMMORT[ALIBVS]
                         ET GEN[IO] PRAETOR[II]
                          Q[VINTVS] PETRONIVS
                   Q[VINTI] F[ILIVS] FAB[IA] VRBICVS
                      PRAEF[ECTVS] COH[ORTIS] IIII
                               EX ITALIA
                              DOMO BRIXIA
                              VOTVM SOLVIT
                                 PRO SE
                                AC SVIS

                    To Jupiter, best _and_ greatest,
                         And to the rest of the
                             Immortal gods,
                    And the genius of the pretorium,
                           Quintus Petronius
       Son of Quintus, of the Fabian family, _surnamed_ Urbicus.
                      Prefect of the Fourth cohort
                             Of the Gauls,
                           From Italy, _and_
                         Of a house of Brixia,
                            Performed a vow
                              For himself
                              And family.

Two lines have been purposely erased, perhaps in consequence of some
error committed by the sculptor. The town of Brixia, the modern Brescia,
is situated on a feeder of the Po. Petronius, it would appear, still
remembered, and doubtless with affection, his former home in sunny
Italy. Storks adorn both sides of the altar; the object of their
introduction is rather doubtful. In the Risingham slab, now at
Cambridge, to which reference has already been made (_p._ 332), a cock
is associated with the figure of Mars, and a stork with that of Victory.
Can the stork have been the emblem of victory, as the cock was of the
god of war? The powerful wing and stately motions of this bird render it
a fitting emblem of the goddess whose favours Petronius must often have
sought. The inscription is distinct, and strikingly displays the
polytheism of the Romans. Petronius associates with Jupiter, not only
all the immortal gods, but the genius of the pretorium also.


Not only were the superior deities and invisible genii blended in one
invocation, but mortal men were not unfrequently associated with the
greatest of the gods on the same altar. This is the case in one already
described (_p._ 63). Quintus Verius, on an altar found at Housesteads,
calls upon Jupiter, the best and greatest, together with ‘the deities of
Augustus.’ The emperor himself is probably intended by this phrase, not
the gods whom the emperor worshipped. The use of the noun in the plural
number, _numina_, is not opposed to this view. Horsley remarks that
_numina_ is frequently, in classical writers, applied to a particular
deity; thus we have _numina Dianæ_ in Horace, and _numina Ph[oe]bi_ in
Virgil. The emperors, we know, were frequently worshipped as gods. The
Mantuan bard, addressing Augustus, has no doubt of his divinity, though
he knows not what region to assign to his especial care;

               ... urbesne invisere, Cæsar,
               Terrarumque velis curam;...
               An deus immensi venias maris, ac tua nautæ
               Numina sola colant....
                                          _Georg._ I. 25.

[Illustration: Altar, Genio Loci, etc.]


An altar, which is not less remarkable for the ornate character of its
decorations, than for the striking display which it affords of the
polytheism of the Romans, was found in the camp at Maryport, and is now
in the possession of the earl of Lonsdale, at Whitehaven Castle. An
accurate representation is given of it in the preceding engraving.

                       GENIO LOCI
                       FORTVNÆ REDVCI
                       ROMÆ AETERNÆ
                       ET FATO BONO
                       G[AIVS] CORNELIVS
                       TRIB[VNVS] COHOR[TIS]
                       EX PROVINCIA
                       MAVR[ITANIÆ] CÆSA[RIENSIS]
                       DOMOS E . . .
                       . . . . .

                      To the Genius of the place,
                         To returning Fortune,
                            To eternal Rome,
                        And to propitious fate,
                            Gaius Cornelius
                          Tribune of a cohort,
                          From the province of
                        Mauritania Cæsariensis,
                          . . . . . . . . . .
                            . . . . . . . .

The lower lines of the inscription of this altar are much injured; they
probably refer to the restoration of some buildings. The upper portion
is sufficiently plain. Peregrinus addresses first the deity of the place
over which his arms had triumphed; lest the local god should not smile
benignantly, he resorts to Fortune, who had conducted him safely to the
land of his adoption; if this deity should fail him, he thinks to find a
refuge in the genius of the eternal city; but driven from this resource,
there is nothing for it, but to trust to fate or chance.

On the back of this altar (which as it is at present placed at
Whitehaven Castle, cannot be seen), are inscribed the words, VOLANTI
VIVAS. This was probably the expression of the good wishes of some party
for his friend, inscribed for greater efficacy on the sacred stone; and
may be translated, Volantius, long may you live!

[Sidenote: ALTARS TO MARS.]

Mars is occasionally addressed, though not so frequently as we might
expect in a chain of mural garrisons. Two small altars dedicated to him
have already been introduced. On several altars, chiefly found in
Cumberland, he is addressed by the name [Illustration: Altar, Deo
Cocidio] of Cocidius. One which was found at Bank’s-head, and is now
preserved at Lanercost Priory, is here introduced. An altar found at
Lancaster bearing the inscription, DEO SANCTO MARTI COCIDIO, is the
authority for supposing that Cocidius was a name of Mars. The altar
before us has been dedicated by the soldiers of the twentieth legion,
surnamed the Valiant and Victorious; the boar, the badge of the legion,
is at the bottom of the altar. It appears also that Mars was sometimes
styled Belatucadrus, the expression DEO MARTI BELATUCADRO being found
upon some altars; the altars to Belatucadrus are, however, confined to
Cumberland. One of them is here [Illustration: Altar, Deo Belatucadro]
given. It was found at Walton Castlesteads, where it still remains. The
letters are rudely carved, and the last two lines not very intelligible.
The name Belatucadrus or Belatucader is derived from the words Baal and
Cadir; and probably means—The invincible or omnipotent Baal. The fact
that Baal, the great idol of the east, found votaries in Britain shews
how easy it is to propagate error.

It was the practice of the Romans to adopt the deities of the countries
which they subdued, and they may be supposed to have sought to
amalgamate with their own god of war, the corresponding divinity
worshipped in that part of Britain where these altars were reared.

[Illustration: Altar to Minerva]

[Sidenote: MINERVA.]

The worship of Minerva was not neglected by the soldiers of the Wall.
The wood-cut exhibits an altar to the virgin goddess, which was found in
the station at Rochester; it is now at Alnwick Castle. Several others
exist. Science is required in the arts of war as well as peace. The
victory which mere daring achieved, was by the Greeks and Romans
ascribed to the intervention of Mars; that which was the result of
skilful strategy to the influence of Minerva. This altar was consecrated
by Julius Carantus.

[Sidenote: FORTUNA.]

Fortune was one of the favourite deities of Rome. The great confidence
which the Romans placed in her is expressed in the story related by
Plutarch, that on entering Rome she put off her wings and shoes, and
threw away her globe, as she intended to take up her permanent abode
among the Romans. Several altars addressed to Fortune have been found on
the line of the Wall. One of the most remarkable is shewn in the annexed
cut. It was found in a building in the south-east corner of the station
at Risingham, and is now in the Museum of

Antiquities, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The great peculiarity of it is, that
the projecting base of the altar is provided with a focus, and that on
the projection the inscription is repeated. It reads—


                               To Fortune

[Illustration: Altar to Fortune]

The altar, when in its original position, was raised by means of two
courses of masonry considerably above the level of the ground. The
object of the second focus is a matter of conjecture. According to the
grammarians, _altare_ (_alta ara_, high altar) was dedicated only to the
gods above, whilst the _ara_ was both lower, and employed in sacrificing
to the gods below as well as those above. Can Fortune have been viewed
in the double capacity of a superior and inferior divinity, and can the
tribune, Valerius Longinus, have sought to secure the favour of the
powerful deity both in this life and the one to come!

[Illustration: Altar to Mithras]

[Sidenote: MITHRAS.]

Several of the altars found on the line of the Wall are dedicated to the
god Mithras. _Mitra_, it appears, is one of the names for the sun in
Sanscrit; and that

Mithras was, by the Romans, identified with the sun, is clearly
proved by many of the inscriptions on the altars of that deity. One,
found in the Mithraic cave at Housesteads, and which is now at
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, is figured on the former page. The inscription
upon it may be read thus;—

                               SOLI INVI
                               CTO MYTRÆ
                       B[ENE]F[ICIARIVS] COS. PRO
                      SE ET SVIS V[OTVM] S[OLVIT]
                           L[IBENS] M[ERITO]

                               To the god
                            The Sun the in-
                            vincible Mithras
                            The Lord of ages
                      A consular beneficiary; for
                  himself and family discharges a vow
                       Willingly and deservedly.



Another small and roughly-cut altar procured from the same place, and
also now at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, has a figure of the sun on its capital:
Hodgson reads the inscription in this manner—Hieronymus, performing a
vow, freely and duly dedicates this to the sun.

When we contemplate the powerful and beneficial influence of the sun, we
cannot be surprised that the worship of this luminary, especially in the
east, constituted the first form of idolatry—

             To solemnize this day, the glorious sun
             Stays in his course, and plays the alchemist;
             Turning, with splendour of his precious eye,
             The meagre cloddy earth to glittering gold.


The various ceremonies which were observed in the worship of Mithras,
are supposed to have been emblematic of the different influences
exercised by the sun upon vegetable and animal life. The notices which
we have of the meaning of these emblems are, however, a mass of
mysticism and absurdity. The god is commonly represented as a youth
wearing the Phrygian cap and attire, and [Illustration: Attendant of
Mithras] kneeling on a bull thrown on the ground, the throat of which he
is cutting. He is usually accompanied by two attendants, the one bearing
an uplifted torch, representing the sun in the vernal equinox, ascending
to the zenith of his power, the other, an extinguished torch, resting on
the ground, emblematic of the orb of day, when hastening to the winter
solstice. The wood-cut here introduced exhibits one of these figures
(now at Newcastle-upon-Tyne), which was found in the cave at

The Mithraic worship was introduced into the western world, from Persia,
about the time of Julius Cæsar, and speedily spread over all parts of
the empire. It appears to have outlived other forms of idolatry in
Europe. Its favourers seem to have abandoned polytheism; on the line of
the Wall at least, the name of Mithras is not combined with that of any
other deity. This circumstance, together with the laborious, though
vain, researches of its philosophical supporters, recommended it to
those who rejected the pure and simple truths of Christianity.

[Sidenote: MITHRAIC CAVE.]

Another of the Housesteads altars to Mithras is here figured. It is


                        D[EO] O[PTIMO] M[AXIMO]
                        INVICTO MYT
                        RÆ SAECVLARI
                        PVBL[IVS] PROCVLI
                        NYS C[ENTVRIO] PRO SE
                        ET PROCVLO FIL[IO]
                          SVO V. S. L. M.


               D.D. (_dominis_) N.N. (_nostris_) GALLO ET
                        VOLVSINO CO[N]S[VLIBVS]


                      To the god best and greatest
                          The invincible Mith-
                           ras, lord of ages,
                          Publius Proculinus,
                         Centurion, for himself
                         And Proculus his son,
                  his vow freely and deservedly pays.
                          Our lords Gallus and
                        Volusinus being consuls.

The temples of Mithras generally consisted of a cave, or a small
building from which the light was excluded. A cave was adopted,
‘because,’ says Porphyry, ‘a cave is the image and symbol of the world,’
and it was dark, ‘because the essence of the virtues is obscure.’ All
who sought the favour of this god were subjected to a long course of
painful initiatory discipline. Nonnius, a Greek poet, says—


  No one can be admitted into his mysteries, unless he has previously
  undergone all the punishments, the number of which they say is eighty,
  some of them of the gentler sort, others more severe. The milder are
  undergone first, then the severer; and after the whole course is gone
  through, they are initiated. Fire and water are the sorts of
  punishment which they endure. These torments are said to be inflicted
  to produce examples of piety and greatness of mind under sufferings.
  After they have been many days in water, they cast themselves into
  fire; then live in desert places, and there subdue the cravings of
  hunger; and thus, as we have said, the aspirant goes through the whole
  course of eighty torments; which if he survive, then he is initiated
  into the mysteries of Mithras.

Human sacrifices seem to have been used in the worship of Mithras.
Photius, in his life of Athanasius, asserts that there was a Greek
temple in Alexandria, in which, in ancient times, the Greeks performed
sacred rites to Mithras, sacrificing men, women, and children, and
auguring from their entrails. Pliny tells us that in the year of Rome
657, a decree of the senate was passed, forbidding the immolation of
man; for till that time monstrous solemnities were openly
celebrated.[139] The emperor Heliogabalus, a native of Syria, styled
himself high priest of Mithras. His assassination is partly ascribed to
the horror with which the people listened to the tales of magic rites in
which he was concerned, and of human victims secretly slaughtered.[140]

[Sidenote: MITHRAIC CAVE.]

The cave at Housesteads in which the Mithraic sculptures were found, was
situated in the valley to the south of the station. It was discovered in
1822 by the tenant of the farm in which it stood, who fixed upon the
spot as one likely to yield him the material which he required for
building a stone fence hard by. The building was square; its sides faced
the cardinal points. It had been originally, as was usually
[Illustration: Zodiacal Tablet, Borcovicus] the case in a Mithraic
temple, permeated by a small stream. Hodgson, who saw it as soon as it
was laid bare, says, ‘The cave itself seems to have been a low
contemptible hovel, dug out of a hill side, lined with dry walls, and
covered with earth or straw.’ Though the building has been entirely
removed, a small hollow is left which marks the spot where it stood. All
the sculptured stones have happily been placed in the custody of the
Society of Antiquaries, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Amongst them, besides the
altars already given, and some which it has not been thought necessary
here to engrave, is the curious stone shewn in the wood-cut. It
represents Mithras, surrounded by the zodiac. The signs of cancer and
libra are omitted. The zodiacal tablet assumes an egg-like form,
probably to symbolize the principle of generation. The god holds a sword
in his right hand, and a peculiar spiral object in his left. It more
nearly resembles an ear of corn than the flame of a torch. We are
reminded [Illustration: Pine-apple Ornament, etc., Cilurnum] by it of
the ornaments resembling pine apples, which are frequently found on the
line of the Wall; and were probably connected with the worship of this
deity. The example here figured, as well as the small altar which
accompanies it, was found at Housesteads; both are now preserved at

[Illustration: Presumed Mithraic Sculpture, Cilurnum]


The accompanying wood-cut represents a subject which is supposed to be
connected with the mysteries of Mithraic worship. The slab was found at
CILURNUM, and is now at Alnwick Castle. Though not satisfied with
Hodgson’s description of it, I am unable to supply a better. He says;—

  The sculpture is in two compartments: that on the left seems to
  contain a lion, statant, raising the head of a naked and dead man:
  that on the right, a figure of Mithras seated on a bench, and having a
  flag in one hand, a wand in the other, and on its head the Persian
  tiara.(?) I would hazard a conjecture that the whole relates to the
  Mithraic rites called Leontica; for the lion, in the zodiac of the
  ancient heathens, stood for Mithras, or the sun, which threw its
  greatest heat upon the earth during its course through the
  constellation Leo.

[Illustration: Altar to Apollo, Cawfield mile-castle]

[Sidenote: ALTAR TO APOLLO.]

Numerous as are the altars on the line of the Wall to the Persian god,
only one has been found dedicated to Apollo, the Grecian representative
of the luminary of day. It was discovered in the summer of 1850, lying
near a spring in the vicinity of the Cawfield mile-castle, about midway
between the Wall and the Vallum, and is now preserved in the collection
of antiquities at Chesters. The following reading must be regarded as,
in a great measure, conjectural; no doubt, however, can exist as to the
deity to which it is dedicated.

                                DEO APOL
                      INI ET O[MNIBVS] N[VMINIBV]S
                       SINIS[TRA] EXPL[ORATORVM]
                       CVI PR[AEEST] SVLP[ICIVS]
                            _VOTVM_ S[OLVIT]
                     L.L. (_libentissime_) M[ERITO]

                            To the God Apol-
                       lo and the other deities,
                       The left _wing_ of guides
                        Commanded by Sulpicius,
                         In discharge of a vow
                     Most willingly and deservedly.

It is believed that this is the only inscription to Apollo yet
discovered in England, though one at least has been found in Scotland.
The Roman soldiers in Britain were probably not much given to the study
of the _belles lettres_, which were under the peculiar patronage of the
god of the silver bow.

The next is an inscription of unusual importance.

                 Ultima Cumaei venit jam carminis aetas;
               Magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo.
               Jam redit et VIRGO.

[Illustration: Inscription to the Syrian Goddess, Magna]


A slab was found at Carvoran in 1816, and is now in the castle of
Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which contains an exposition in iambic verse of the
creed of a Roman tribune respecting the mother of the gods. Faber
remarks, that Ceres, Cybele, Venus, the Syrian goddess Derceto, the
Ph[oe]nician Astarte, and the Egyptian Isis, were all one and the same
deity. The inscription, which is an unusually long one, is here arranged
in lines of the length which the scansion requires—


 The Virgin in her celestial seat overhangs the Lion,
 Producer of corn, Inventress of right, Foundress of cities,
 By which functions it has been our good fortune to know the deities;
 Therefore the same _Virgin is_ the Mother of the gods, _is_ Peace, _is_
    Virtue, _is_ Ceres,
 _Is_ the Syrian Goddess poising life and laws in a balance,
 The constellation beheld in the sky hath Syria sent forth
 To Lybia to be worshipped, thence have all of us learnt it,
 Thus hath understood, overspread by thy protecting influence,
 Marcus Cæcilius Donatinus, a warfaring
 Tribune in _the office of_ prefect, by the bounty of the emperor.

Cæcilius probably prepared this exposition of his faith on being
admitted into the mysteries of Ceres. However unintelligible, we cannot
but admire the humility and teachable disposition of the tribune.

          Their judge was conscience, and her rule their law,
          That rule, pursued with reverence, and with awe,
          Led them, however faltering, faint and slow,
          From what they knew, to what they wished to know.
          But let not him that shares a brighter day,
          Traduce the splendour of a noontide ray,
          Prefer the twilight of a darker time,
          And deem his base stupidity no crime!

[Sidenote: MINOR DEITIES.]

A glance at some of the minor, and local deities must conclude our
review of the gods of the Barrier.

The deities of Greece and Rome were without number. Every fountain and
river, every hill and forest, had its tutelary deity; every product of
earth, air, or sea, its guardian; every place its genius; every
household its _penates_. The antiquities found on the Wall furnish us
with numerous illustrations of this fact. The engraving represents an
altar which was found at Birdoswald, and is now at Lanercost.

[Illustration: Altar to Silvanus, Amboglanna]

                               DEO SANCTO
                               SILVANO VE
                       BANNE S.S. (_sacraverunt_)

                            To the holy god
                             The hunters of
                        Have consecrated _this_.

[Sidenote: THE NYMPHS.]

Silvanus seems to have presided over woods and boundaries. Several
altars have been erected to him along the line. Forests must at that
time have covered a great portion of the country, and given shelter to
beasts of chase worthy of the martial prowess of the occupants of the

A host of female forms, denominated nymphs, haunted mountain, valley,
and stream.

When in the Iliad, the father of the gods calls together his council,

             Nor of the Floods was any absent thence
             Oceanus except, or of the NYMPHS
             Who haunt the pleasant groves, or dwell beside
             Stream-feeding fountains, or in meadows green.

An interesting altar, dedicated to these deities, was found by the side
of a spring overlooking the station of HABITANCUM. It is now in the
garden of Spencer Trevelyan, esq., of Long Witton.

[Illustration: Altar to the Nymphs, Habitancum]

                              SOMNIO PRAE
                              MILES HANC
                              PONERE IVS
                              ARAM QVAE
                              FABIO NVP
                              TA EST NYM
                              PHIS VENE

The inscription is roughly cut, but quite legible, no contraction is
used in it, and no ligature is admitted, even in the case of diphthongs.
The construction of the sentence is peculiar, and admits of two
renderings. Taking _nupta est_ to signify dedicated, a peculiar use of
the word, suggested perhaps by its etymological relationship with the
one which it governs, _nymphis_, the inscription will read—

  A soldier, warned in a dream, directed the erection of this altar,
  which is dedicated by Fabius to the nymphs to whom worship is due.

The other method of rendering it is the following,—

  A soldier, warned in a dream, directed her (_eam_ supplied) who is
  married to Fabius to erect this altar to the nymphs to whom worship is


According to either interpretation the altar was erected to the sylphs
of the fountain, in consequence of a dream. The lively imagination of
the Roman has invested the humble spring where it originally stood with
such an air of romance, as to render it a matter of regret that the
altar does not still grace the spot.

[Illustration: Altar to the Gods of the Mountains, Vindobala]

The adjoining wood-cut represents a small altar found at Rutchester,
VINDOBALA, and now in the Castle of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The inscription
reads—To the gods of the mountains, Julius Firminus, the decurion,[141]
erected this. Epona, to whom the next [Illustration: Altar to Epona,
Magna] altar is dedicated, was the protectress of horses; images of her
were to be seen in most stables. Juvenal’s dandy jockey swore by her
alone. This altar was found at Carvoran, and is now in the High School
of Edinburgh. The accompanying example [Illustration: Altar, sculptured
with a Toad, Cilurnum] is not the only instance of a toad being
represented on an altar. This was found at Chesters, CILURNUM, where it
is still preserved. Did the Romans stoop so low as to worship reptiles?
If so, the superstitious practice has probably been derived from the
east. Dr. Kitto remarks, ‘The importance attached to the frog, in some
parts of Egypt, is shewn by its being embalmed, and honoured with
sepulture in the tombs of Thebes. In the Egyptian mythology, the frog
was an emblem of man in embryo.’


[Sidenote: VITERES.]

Many altars have been found on the line dedicated to gods unknown to
Rome’s Pantheon, and supposed to have a purely local celebrity. The
engraving exhibits one of a numerous class.[142] It was discovered near
Thirlwall Castle about 1757, in the course of the formation of the
military road, and shortly after presented to the Society of
Antiquaries. Vitres, or Viteres, or Veteres, is a god whose name is
confined to the north of Britain. Hodgson remarks, that Vithris was a
name of Odin, as we find in the death-song of Lodbroc—'I will approach
the courts of Vithris, with the faltering voice of fear.' If Viteres and
the Scandinavian Odin be identical, we are thus furnished with evidence
of the early settlement of the Teutonic tribes in England. The altar
given on page 395 is [Illustration: Altar to Viteres, Condercum] also
dedicated to Viteres. The occurrence of the name of this god in a plural
form, as in the annexed example, which was found at CONDERCUM, and is
now at Somerset-house, has suggested the idea, that Viteres is not the
proper name of a god, but that _diis veteribus_—the ancient gods—is the
inscription intended. Most probably, however, Viteres was the name of a
local deity.

[Illustration: Altar to the Dea Hamia, Thirlwall-castle]

[Sidenote: LOCAL DEITIES.]

The next altar is also dedicated to a local goddess; at least it is not
easy to give any more satisfactory account of the _Dea Hamia_. The altar
was found near Thirlwall castle, and belongs to the Society of
Antiquaries, London.

[Sidenote: DEÆ MATRES.]

We now proceed to an important group of altars and sculptures, which,
if not strictly local, are yet chiefly found in those regions of
Europe which were swept by the Teutonic wave in its progress westward.
They have been met with in England, the Netherlands, along the banks
of the Rhine and other parts of Germany, and in France. These deities,
when sculptured, are represented as triple, generally seated, clothed
in long flowing drapery, and bearing in their laps baskets of fruit. A
slab, of which a drawing has already been given (p. 140), is inscribed
MATRIBUS CAMPESTRIBUS, to the mothers of the plains; it probably
refers to the deities in question. An altar found in the same
[Illustration: Altar to the Three Lamiæ, Condercum] station,
CONDERCUM, and now in the vaults of Somerset-house, is inscribed
LAMIIS TRIBUS, to the three Lamiæ. The wood-cut accurately represents
it. In Rich’s companion to the Latin Dictionary, the Lamiæ are
represented as ‘Vampires; believed to be malignant spirits of the
female sex, who wandered about at night in the guise of old hags,
sucking blood, and devouring the flesh of human beings. This
superstition,’ continues the writer, ‘originated in Egypt.’ In
corroboration of the Egyptian origin of this class of demons, it may
be stated that small images, arranged in triplets, are of common
occurrence among [Illustration: Egyptian Idols] [Illustration:
Egyptian Idols] the antiquities of Egypt. The cuts here introduced
exhibit two groups of this class of idols, selected from a large
number of similar sets, in the possession of his Grace the duke of
Northumberland, at Alnwick Castle. Their resemblance to some of those
found upon the line of the Wall is striking. The foreign origin of
these mother-deities is further proved by their being denominated in
inscriptions MATRES TRAMARINÆ, Transmarine Mothers. The altar here
figured is an example of this kind; it was found at HABITANCUM, and is
now preserved [Illustration: Altar to the Transmarine Mothers,
Habitancum] at Alnwick Castle. The inscription records, that Julius
Victor dedicated it in discharge of a vow freely and deservedly to the
Transmarine Mothers. This Victor, it appears by another inscription,
was a tribune of the first cohort of the Vangiones, a Germanic tribe.
On none of these altars are the deities distinguished by a proper
name. This would seem to be in conformity with the superstitious
feelings of the middle ages in England and Germany, where it was
thought unlucky to call the fairies and elves by any other
denominations than the respectful titles of ‘the ladies,’ or ‘the good
people.’ Several sculptures representing, as is supposed, the
mother-goddesses, have been found on the line of the Wall. One group,
found at Housesteads, and now in the castle of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, is
drawn (fig. 4) on Plate XI. When seen by Horsley, this slab had in the
upper part of it two fishes and a sea-goat in relief. Two other sets
got at the same place, are figured in the Britannia Romana. In one of
them, the central or chief figure is represented as bound by the legs.
The ancients, in order to prevent a deity, whose favour they coveted,
taking his departure against their will, not unfrequently used
[Illustration: Sculpture to the Deæ Matres, at Netherby] the
unwarrantable liberty of securing him by chains. At Netherby, there
are three sculptures belonging to this class. One of them, shewn in
the wood-cut, is in a perfect condition. The figures are standing, an
ample covering envelopes their heads, and a short tunic scantily
[Illustration: Sculpture to the Deæ Matres, at Netherby] invests their
bodies. Another group, here engraved, has met with the usual fate of
Roman sculptures in the north of England—they have suffered
decapitation; the ample folds of the garments by which they are
[Illustration: Sculpture to the Deæ Matres, at Netherby] clothed have
happily not been disturbed, and the central or chief personage holds a
basket of fruit. The third sculpture is of larger size and has
suffered more extensive injury; the left hand figure of the group only
remains; she is seated, and holds fruit in her lap. The Byzantine
character of the drapery will be noticed. At Nether-hall another
fragment of a [Illustration: Sculpture to the Deæ Matres, at
Nether-hall] group, procured from the neighbouring station, is
preserved—the left hand figure has been broken off; the two remaining
ladies wear the same cowl-like head-dress as the Netherby mothers;
shewn on the former page. Mr. Thomas Wright, speaking of these mythic
personages, says—

  The ancient mythology of the Germanic race was not entirely eradicated
  by Christianity; and it is interesting to trace it as reflected in the
  popular superstitions of the present day. The reverence for the three
  goddesses who presided over the woods and fields, pre-arranged the
  fates of individuals, and dispensed the blessings of Providence to
  mankind, may thus be traced down to a comparatively late period, both
  in Germany and in England. They are sometimes regarded as the three
  Fates—the _Norni_ of the north, the wælcyrian of the Anglo-Saxons (the
  weird sisters, transformed in Shakespeare into three witches),
  disposing of the fates of individuals, and dealing out death and life.
  But they are also found distributing rewards and punishments, giving
  wealth and prosperity, and conferring fruitfulness. They are the three
  fairies who are often introduced in the fairy legends of a later
  period, with these same characteristics.[143]


After so long a companionship with the heathen relics found on the line
of the Wall, the reader will naturally ask—Have no Christian remains
been found?—Does no memorial record the name of JEHOVAH, the living God?
A negative reply must be given to the inquiry. There is, however,
abundant evidence to prove, that Christianity was extensively diffused
through the world long before the Romans departed from Britain. Tacitus
tells us, that in his day there was a great multitude of Christians at
Rome itself. The younger Pliny, in the second century, addressing the
emperor, complains that the heathen temples were almost deserted. Justin
Martyr says, there is not a nation in which prayers and thanksgivings
are not offered up in the name of the crucified Jesus; and Tertullian,
the most ancient of the Latin fathers, appealing to the magistrates,
says, ‘We are but of yesterday, yet we have filled every place, your
cities, garrisons, and free towns, your camps, senate, and forum; we
have left nothing empty but your temples.’ Britain early received the
glad tidings. ‘The concurrent voice of antiquity,’ says Mr. Thackeray,
‘although it has not designated the individuals who were the immediate
instruments of Providence in enlightening Britain, assigns the year 60
as about the period when the Christian religion was introduced into this
island.’ At this time there were not fewer than 48,000 Roman soldiers,
including their auxiliaries, in this country, some of whom must have
been well acquainted with the name of Christ. In the army there would be
some centurions like Cornelius, some deputies like Sergius Paulus, who,
not content with knowing the truth themselves, endeavoured to
communicate it to others, and yet these Christian soldiers have, along
the line of the Wall, left no memorial of their faith. The God whom they
served required not the erection of an altar of stone, or an offering of
frankincense. Their ‘inscription’ was, a holy life, ‘seen and read of
all men.’ Notwithstanding the example and teaching of such men, it is a
lamentable fact, that heathenism continued to rear its head in Britain
until near the close of the period of Roman occupation, as several of
the altars found on the line of the Wall clearly testify.


Brand conceived that an altar discovered at Rutchester, and now in the
museum at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, exhibited the Christian symbol. It may
well be doubted whether the rude carving to which he refers, is any
thing more than a partially obliterated letter. There are other letters,
evidently of modern fabrication, carved on this altar.

_Fas est ab hoste doceri._ An obvious remark clothed in Horsley’s own
language, and extracted from a work that is now scarce, will form a
suitable conclusion to this section. Speaking of vows in sickness he

  There is one thing in these pagan votive altars that may be a shame
  and reproach to a great many who call themselves Christians; and that
  is, the willingness and cheerfulness with which they paid, or
  pretended to pay, the vows they had made. Such as have any
  acquaintance with those things, know how commonly these letters V. S.
  L. M. or V. S. L. L. M., are added at the end of inscriptions that are
  on such altars, whereby they signified how _willingly_ and
  _cheerfully_, as well as _deservedly_, they performed the vows they
  had made, viz., _votum solvit libens merito_, or _votum solvit libens,
  lubens_ (or _lætus_) _merito_. Much more _deservedly_, and therefore
  more _willingly_ and _cheerfully_, should the vows made to the Most
  High, to the true and living God, be paid or performed to him, and
  particularly the vows made in trouble.[144]

                        SEPULCHRAL INSCRIPTIONS.


Extreme importance was attached by both Greeks and Romans to the due
discharge of the rites of sepulture. Until earth had been three times
sprinkled over the body of the departed, his spirit was conceived to be
denied admission into the Elysian fields. The practice of burning the
dead became common at Rome about the latter period of the republic. The
inconvenience and expense of the process would necessarily restrict it
to persons of some wealth. After the pile was consumed, the ashes of the
deceased were gathered up by the nearest relative, and deposited in an
urn. There are numerous instances in Britain of the Romans having buried
their dead entire. Skeletons have been found in London, which Mr.
Charles Roach Smith considers must have been deposited in the higher
empire. As Christianity gained ground, the custom of burning the dead
fell into disuse; the early Christians were unwilling to do needless
violence to the dust of a fellow disciple, and resolved to discontinue
the superstitious ceremonies which usually attended cremation.

Whether the body was previously reduced to ashes, or deposited in the
ground unburnt, it was usual to raise a mound over the spot.

               Ergo instauramus Polydoro funus: et ingens
               Aggeritur tumulo tellus.
                                           _Æn._ III. 62.

[Sidenote: FUNERAL URN.]

Sometimes, instead of a mound of earth, a monument of stone covered the
place where the sepulchral urn was deposited. This was the case at
BREMENIUM, as already described (_p._ 326). With the ashes or body of
the deceased, it was usual to deposit a small brass coin to answer the
demands of Charon. 'This custom of burying valuables and coins with the
dead is by no means extinct; the humbler Irish will pawn their clothes
to provide fresh pieces of money to throw into the coffins of their
departed friends.'[145] The Romans, as formerly observed, did not
usually deposit either the unburnt bodies of the dead, or their ashes,
within the walls of towns or stations. A curious exception to this
practice has lately been noticed. In the month of October last (1850), a
funereal urn was discovered within the station of BORCOVICUS, near the
north-west corner. It was sunk in the earth, and was covered by an
oblong flat stone, without inscription. The vase, which was of
earthen-ware, and altogether devoid of ornament, was globular in its
form, and of large dimensions. It measured two feet in diameter, and two
feet in height. It contained ashes, amongst which was found a solitary
silver coin of Hadrian. This urn is preserved at Chesters. On the slab
covering the remains of the deceased person, the name and age were not
unfrequently inscribed. The carving, which sometimes includes an effigy
of the individual, is often very rude; the back of the stone is, for the
most part, undressed. The inscriptions on these ‘frail memorials’ which
in the mural region have come down to our times, and ‘implore the
passing tribute of a sigh,’ almost uniformly commence [Sidenote: DII
MANES.] with the letters D. M.—_diis manibus_. The shades or departed
spirits are, probably, themselves intended in this address, though much
confusion exists upon the subject in the works of the ancient writers.
In the following lines, Ovid represents the manes as being objects of

            Est honor et tumulis: animas placate paternas;
              Parvaque in extinctas munera ferte pyras.
            Parva petunt MANES: pietas pro divite grata est
              Munere: non avidos Styx habet ima Deos.
            Tegula projectis satis est velata coronis;
              Et sparsæ fruges, parcaque mica salis.

[Illustration: Sepulchral Altar to the Manes of Fabia Honorata, Cilurnum]

Some of the ceremonies here referred to by the Latin poet, are still in
use, as all know who have visited the cemetery of Père la Chaise, in
Paris. On the sepulchral slab, death is rarely mentioned; but the number
of years, months, and days, that the deceased lived, is recorded with
great particularity. The altar, of which an engraving is here
introduced, was found at CILURNUM, and is now in the Library of the Dean
and Chapter at Durham. It bears the following inscription—

                       D[IIS] M[ANIBVS] S[ACRVM]
                              FABIÆ HONOR
                             ATÆ FABIVS HON
                           ORATIVS TRIBVN[VS]
                       COH[ORTIS] I. VANGION[VM]
                            ET AVRELIA EGLIC
                               IANE FECER
                          VNT FILIÆ DVLCISSIMÆ

                     Sacred to the divine Manes of
                            Fabia Honorata.
                              Fabius Hon-
                       oratius the tribune of the
                    First cohort of Vangiones,[146]
                           And Aurelia Eglic-
                          iane erected _this_
                     To their most sweet daughter.


‘Tender souls!’ exclaims Hodgson, ‘your last act of piety to a beloved
daughter has not been forgotten: the altar that bears the memorial of
your affection still exists, though it has been banished from the
custody of the ashes which were committed to its care.’ Though painful,
it is yet pleasant to notice the heavings of natural affection in the
martial bosom of a Roman soldier. This stone differs from most of the
sepulchral monuments, in being an altar instead of a slab, and in not
mentioning the age of the deceased. It has been remarked that the larger
proportion of the tomb-stones of the mural region record the deaths of
young persons. The climate of the north of England, particularly of the
exposed district of the Barrier, must have told with fearful severity
upon the constitutions of those who had been reared under the sunny
skies of Italy and Spain.

[Illustration: Sepulchral Slab to the Manes of Aurelia Faia, Magna]


The large slab which is here figured, was found at Carvoran, and is now
in the castle of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It reads—

                            D[IIS] M[ANIBVS]
                            AVRE[LIAE] FAIAE
                             D[OMO] SALONAS
                           AVRE[LIVS] MARCVS
                     Ↄ (_centurio_) OBSEQ[IO] CON-
                            IVG[IS] SANCTIS-
                             SIMAE QVAE VI-
                           XIT ANNIS XXXIII.
                            SINE VLLA MACVLA

                         To the divine Manes of
                             Aurelia Faia,
                         Of a house of Salona,
                            Aurelius Marcus
                     A centurion, out of affection
                         For his most holy wife
                               Who lived
                          Thirty three years,
                   Without any stain, _erected this_.


It is not unnatural that a soldier while bemoaning the loss of a beloved
wife in a land of strangers, should so dwell upon her virtues as to
conceive that hers was a faultless character. Gruter gives an
inscription which nearly resembles this. It was erected by Marcus
Aurelius Paullus—

                       CONIVGI INCOMPARABILI
                       CVM QVA VIXIT ANNIS XXVII
                       SINE VLLA QVERELA

  To his incomparable wife, with whom he had lived twenty-seven years
  without having had a single squabble.

‘This couple,’ says Mr. Akerman, ‘must for ever throw into the shade all
the candidates for the Dunmow flitch.’

[Illustration: Sepulchral Slab to the Memory of Cornelius Victor]

At Chesterholm is a slab which, though suffering from exposure to the
weather, is still distinct:—

              DIIS MANIBVS
              CORN[ELIVS] VICTOR S. C. (_Sibi Constitvit_)
              MIL[ES] ANN[OS] XXVI CIV[IS]
              NI P.P VIX[IT] ANN[OS] LV. D[IES] XI
              CONIVX PROCVRAVI

  To the divine Manes; Cornelius Victor ordered this to be erected over
  himself. He was a soldier twenty-six years, a citizen of Pannonia, and
  the very dutiful (P.P. _pientissime_) son of Saturninus. He lived
  fifty-five years and eleven days. I, his wife, saw his order executed.

The tomb-stone to a young physician has already been given, page 227.

                           CENTURIAL STONES.


The only other class of inscribed stones to which reference will now be
made, is that of centurial stones. The centurions seem to have been in
the habit of placing a common stone, inscribed with the name of their
_century_—company or troop, in that section of the Wall which they had
built. The letters are usually very rudely cut; sometimes they are
enclosed in a border, as in the annexed example, which, probably found
in the vicinity of CILURNUM, is now at Alnwick Castle.

[Illustration: Centurial Stone, Coh. V. Cæcilii Proculi, Cilurnum]

                       COH[ORS] V
                       > (_centuria_) CAECILI[I]

                       The fifth cohort.
                       The century of Cæcilius

More frequently, however, the stone is entirely unadorned, as in this
example, which, along with [Illustration: Centurial Stone, Cilurnum] the
former, was removed from Walwick Chesters to Alnwick Castle. The letter
C, reversed thus Ↄ, or more frequently an angular mark resembling the
letter V, laid upon its side thus >, is the sign usually adopted for
_centuria_, century. Two centurial stones are shewn in the wood-cut
introduced in page 190. The upper one, that of Valerius Maximus, was
described, a century ago, by Horsley, who found it near
Haltwhistle-burn. Afterwards it was built up in a gable of the Cawfield
farm-house, against which a coal-shed was formed. Here, though sadly
begrimed, it was protected from further injury, until rescued by the
present owner of the farm, and safely deposited in the museum of
antiquities at Chesters.



Next in importance to the inscribed stones found on the line of the
Wall, the student of history will reckon the coins which the spade and
plough of the husbandman turn up in considerable numbers in the mural
region. In a rude state of society the commercial transactions of the
residents of a district are almost entirely confined to an interchange
of the commodities produced by each. A body of soldiery, however, liable
to be removed from place to place, and compelled to expend their
energies in unproductive industry, are necessarily obliged to resort to
the use of money. It is chiefly in the stations where the Roman legions
lodged, or on the roads which they traversed, that the imperial coin is
found. These metallic pieces, bearing the insignia of Rome, thus become
exceedingly important in tracking the march of Roman armies. As works of
art, the design and execution of many of them are truly admirable. The
copper coins of Hadrian are especially worthy of study. The custom which
prevailed during the best periods of the empire, of rendering the
circulating medium of the market-place the means of commemorating the
leading events of the day, gives them increased value. Were all the
other records of Roman story destroyed, its most stirring incidents
might be recovered by a careful examination of the coins which the
cabinets of the antiquary contain.

[Sidenote: COINS.]

Ample use has already been made of this source of information in the
first Part of this work. Why is it that Britain neglects this means of
rousing the spirit of her people, of communicating information, and of
securing an almost imperishable memorial of her mighty acts? Had she
recorded upon her coinage the events of the last half-century, she would
have transmitted to posterity the memory of a series of warlike
achievements and peaceful triumphs unparalleled in extent and unequalled
in glory. As it is, our metallic currency has little value beyond its
commercial worth, and generation after generation is compelled to
contemplate, with what complacency they may, the same lady sitting
immoveably upon the same enduring rock, and the same mounted knight
making his interminable attempt to slay the same deathless dragon. The
immense number of the coins found upon the line of the Wall, and the
extension of the series from the earliest periods down to the time of
Honorius, prove incontestibly the length of time that the Romans
maintained their hold of this isthmus. The accidental loss of pieces of
money will not, alone, account for the large quantity which has been
found. In times of danger the possessors of treasure seem to have been
in the habit of concealing it in the earth; the secret of their having
done so must often have perished with them. In excavating that portion
of the station of CILURNUM which was opened in 1843, not fewer than
seventy Roman coins were found. In 1833, near the west gateway of
VINDOLANA, three hundred small brass coins, mostly of Constantius and
Mangentius, were found, not in a heap or vessel, but dispersed among the
soil. The Rev. John Walton, who, about a century ago was vicar of
Corbridge, made a considerable collection of Roman coins, by purchasing
such as were turned up in the neighbouring station of Corchester. The
following circumstance is related concerning him. A party of Jews having
established in the neighbourhood a prussian-blue manufactory, felt
disposed to enter the market with the vicar. Mr. Walton, unwilling to
compete with them by offering a larger price, had the fields where the
coins were found, strewed with imitations of the genuine pieces. These,
on being picked up, were freely bought by the Jews, who, soon finding
the trade a losing one, abandoned it altogether.

The station, notwithstanding such systematic gleaning, is not yet
deprived of its treasures. Not long ago, a rustic eked out a livelihood
by searching for its coins, and disposing of them to occasional
customers. The other day a plough-boy being asked if he had found any
lately, produced straight-way from his pocket not less than thirty, most
of them, indeed, highly corroded.

The coinage of Rome seems to have continued in circulation in the north
of England for a very short time after the departure of the Roman forces
from Britain. Saxon money is found in Northumberland of a date coeval
with the arrival of that people, but is never mingled with the Roman
coinage. The coins of the Romans, on the other hand, are never
accompanied by those of their successors. Within about forty years after
the departure of the Romans, the circulation of the imperial coinage
seems to have ceased. This circumstance proves incontestibly that a
mighty political revolution had taken place in the interval. The present
appearance of the stations corroborates the idea. The walls have been
forcibly thrown down, the statues and other objects within them
purposely mutilated, and the whole inclosure rendered, as far as
possible unfit for human habitation.


To attempt a description of even the principal coins that can still be
ascertained to have been procured from the district of the Wall, would
be to compose a treatise upon numismatics. It will perhaps be sufficient
to lay before the reader a brief [Illustration: Vessel, in which the
Thorngrafton Coins were found] account of the hoard which was discovered
in 1837, in an ancient quarry near Thorngrafton. The coins, sixty-five
in number, were contained in a small skiff-shaped receptacle with a
circular handle. The vessel represented in the adjoining wood-cut is
about six inches long; the lid has a hinge at one end, and fastens with
a spring at the other. The coins are at present in the possession of the
brother of the quarryman who discovered them, and he holds them with
such tenacity, that my artist was refused permission to see even the
case which contained them, though he had taken a journey of thirty miles
for the purpose of drawing them. Mr. Fairless, of Hexham, was more
fortunate, and obtained leave to take sealing-wax impressions of the
coins, from which the wood-cuts have been prepared. I am indebted to Mr.
Fairless for the description of the coins, which he took from the pieces







_Rev._ SALVS.



_Rev._ A Victory holding a garland over the head of a Roman soldier, and
in the exergue, COS. VIII.


            1. _Obv._ IMP. NERO CAESAR AVGVSTVS.

              _Rev._ SALVS. Device same as in gold above.






   _Rev._ S.P.Q.R. OB. C.S. (Within a wreath.)

             4. _Obv._ SER. GALBA AVG. _Rev._ Same as last.



   _Rev._ PONT. MAX.



   _Rev._ IMP. XIX. A basket filled with corn or bread.


7. _Obv._ CAES. VESP. AVG. P.M. COS. III.




      _Rev._ PON. MAX. TR.P. COS. VI.


11. _Obv._ IMP. CAES. VESP. AVG. CENS.

   _Rev._ PONTIF. MAXIM.



   _Rev._ No inscription. A figure standing.


13. _Obv._ IMP. VESP. AVG. P. M. COS. VIII.

   _Rev._ VES (figure) TA.



   _Rev._ COS. ITER.—(figure)—TR. POT.


15. _Obv._ Same as last.

   _Rev._ COS.—(an eagle standing on cippus)—VII.


16. _Obv._ Inscription same as last.

   _Rev._ Reversed goats’ heads, bearing a shield.


17. _Obv._ Inscription same as last.

   _Rev._ COS. ITER. TR. POT.


18. _Obv._ Inscription same as last.

   _Rev._ GENIVM—(figure)—P.R.



   _Rev._ TR. POT. II. COS. VIIII. DES. X. P.P.


20. 21. _Obv._ Same as last.

    _Rev._ IMP. XXI. COS. XVI. CENS.P. P.P.



    _Rev._ COS. IIII. Pegasus.


24. _Obv._ CAES. DOMIT. AVG. GERM. P.M. T.R.P.

    _Rev._ IMP. XIIII. COS. XIII. CENS. P. P. P.


25. _Rev._ IMP. XXII. COS. XVI. CENS.P. P. P.



   _Rev._ TR. POT. II. COS. VIIII. DES. XII.


27. _Obv._ CAES. AVG. DOMIT. COS. III.



28. _Obv._ IMP. NERVA. CAES. AVG. P.M. TR.P. COS. III. P.R.

    _Rev._ FORTVNA P.R.



    _Rev._ PONT. MAX. TR. POT. COS. II.



_Rev._ P.M. TR.P. COS. VI. P.P. S.P.Q.R.


32. _Obv._ IMP. TRAIANO AVG. GER. DAC. P. M. TR.P.

    _Rev._ COS. V. P.P. S.P.Q.R. OPTIMO PRINC.


33. 34. 35. _Rev._ COS. V. P.P. S.P.Q.R. OPTIMO PRINC.


36. _Obv._ IMP. TRAIANO AVG. GER. DAC. P.M. TR.P. COS. V. P.P.



37. _Obv._ Same as last.


   _Exergue._ FORT.RED.


38. Same as before.

   _Exergue._ PAX.



_Rev._ COS. VI. P.P. S.P.Q.R.



   _Rev._ P.M. TR.P. COS. VI. P.P. S.P.Q.R.

             41. _Obv._ IMP. CAES. NERVA TRAIAN. AVG. GERM.



    _Rev._ P.M. TR. P. COS. II. P.P.


44. Same as 40. with _Exergue_. TRO—VIO.



   _Rev._ COS.V. P.P. S.P.Q.R. OPTIMO PRINC.


46. The same as last.


47. Same as last. Seated figure, the right hand extended, holding a



   _Rev._ P.M. TR.P. COS. III.


49. _Obv._ Same as last.

   _Exergue._ FEL. P.R. (doubtful.)

   _Rev._ P.M. TR.P. COS. III.



   _Rev._ P.M.TR.P. COS. III.

      PIE—TAS, in the field.

                        51. _Obv._ Same as last.

                       _Rev._ P.M.TR.P. COS. III.

                          CONSULAR AND OTHERS.




This coin symbolizes the peace concluded between the Roman general
Scaurus and the Arabian monarch Aretas.






                          MINERALS AND METALS.

In nearly all the stations of the line, the ashes of mineral fuel have
been found; in some, a store of unconsumed coal has been met with,
which, though intended to give warmth to the primeval occupants of the
isthmus, has been burnt in the grates of the modern English. In several
places the source whence the mineral was procured can be pointed out;
but the most extensive workings that I have heard of, are in the
neighbourhood of Grindon Lough, near Sewingshields. Not long ago, a
shaft was sunk, with the view of procuring the coal which was supposed
to be below the surface; the projector soon found, that though coal had
been there, it was all removed. The ancient workings stretched beneath
the bed of the lake.


In Allendale and Alston Moor, numerous masses of ancient scoriæ have
been found, which must have resulted from the reduction of lead from its
ore. In the station of Corchester, portions of lead pipe have been
found; it is an inch and a half in diameter, and has been formed by
bending round a flat strip of the metal, and soldering the joint.

Iron has been produced in large quantities. In the neighbourhood of
HABITANCUM masses of iron slag have been found. It is heavier than what
proceeds from modern furnaces, in consequence, probably, of the
imperfect reduction of the ore. In the neighbourhood of Lanchester, the
process seems to have been carried on very extensively. On the division
of the common, two large heaps were removed, the one containing about
four hundred cart loads of dross, the other six hundred. It was used in
the construction of some new roads which were then formed, a purpose for
which it was admirably adapted. In the neighbourhood of one of these
heaps of scoriæ, the iron tongs represented in Plate XVII. fig. 8, so
much resembling those at present used by blacksmiths, were ploughed up.
During the operation of bringing this common into cultivation, the
method adopted by the Romans of producing [Sidenote: BLAST FURNACE.] the
blast necessary to smelt the metal was made apparent. Two tunnels had
been formed in the side of a hill; they were wide at one extremity, but
tapered off to a narrow bore at the other, where they met in a point.
The mouths of the channels opened towards the west, from which quarter a
prevalent wind blows in this valley, and sometimes with great violence.
The blast received by them would, when the wind was high, be poured with
considerable force and effect upon the smelting furnaces at the
extremity of the tunnels.

                          METALLIC IMPLEMENTS.

Notwithstanding the tendency of iron to oxidize, several weapons made of
this material, and used by the Romans, have come down to our day. Their
general character and form can be better learnt from an inspection of
the drawings which depict them than by verbal description. On Plate X.
are shewn two spear or javelin heads, and on Plate XVII. the iron points
of some arrows.

Vessels of cast-metal, fitted for domestic use, are occasionally met
with. On Plate XVII. fig. 2, is a specimen of a pot or boiler, closely
resembling those in modern use; it was found in cutting the Newcastle
and Carlisle Railway, near Haydon Bridge.


Bronze vessels are occasionally found. The utensils depicted on Plate
XVI. are of this metal. Fig. 1, is a pan, evidently intended for
culinary purposes. The use of the other vessel, fig. 2, so nearly
resembling a modern coffee-pot, is not so apparent, though several of
this form have been found in the Roman stations in the north of England.
Is it a decanter—a sort of wine flagon? Both of these vessels were found
on the line of the Wall, but at what point I have been unable to learn.

Near to Whitfield, were recently found three camp-kettles, of peculiar
make, which are now in the Museum of Antiquities at Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
They are formed of bronze, but of exceedingly thin metal; they have
evidently seen much service, and are patched in several places. Owing to
the thinness of the metal they would very readily feel the fire. In
Italy, where during a great part of the year a fire is only lighted when
indispensable, similar vessels are still in use. These three vessels
vary in size, so as to allow of their being placed one within the other.
The smallest of them is shewn on Plate XVII. fig. 3. The strainer, fig.
1, also of bronze, and very finely and tastefully perforated, was found
with them.

The boss of a shield, having something of the appearance of the head of
a snake, Plate VII. fig. 2, is also of bronze. It is preserved at

Fibulæ or clasps, for fastening the loose robes worn by the Romans, are,
as may be supposed, of ordinary occurrence. The one represented, of the
full size, Plate XIV. fig. 2, was found at Carvoran. It is of bronze,
and is of a form of which there are many examples. The tongue is
wanting, but the spiral spring to which it was attached, and the groove
which caught it, are distinctly observed. The small pair of bronze
shears or scissors, which are shewn of their full size, Plate XIV. fig.
1, were also found at Carvoran.

                                                             _PLATE XV._


  Samian Ware, from Wallsend and Lanchester

                                                             _PLATE XVI_


  Bronze Vessels

                                                           _PLATE XVII._


  Iron Pot, Bronze Vessel, Tongs, etc.

                                                           _PLATE XVIII_


  Soles of Sandals, etc.


[Sidenote: ROMAN POTTERY.]

Few subjects possess more interest than the pottery of the Romans.
Whether we regard the shape of the vessels, the beauty of their
ornaments, or the excellence of the material of which they are composed,
they are worthy of our admiration. Fortunately for the present writer,
so much has recently been published upon the subject, as to justify him
in dismissing it with a brief notice.

Among the earthenware vessels found in the mural region are some of
coarse structure, such as _amphoræ_, _mortaria_, pans for common
domestic purposes, and some which have probably been intended for
exposure to the fire. The amphoræ are large narrow-necked vessels,
capable of containing several gallons, and formed of red clay. In
general, they have been furnished with two handles, on one of which the
maker’s name is not unfrequently stamped. They were used for holding
wine. I am not aware of any having been found on the line of the Wall,
in a state at all approaching to completeness.

The mortars are strong shallow vessels, provided with a lip for the
convenience of pouring. They are formed of clay, resembling fire-brick
in colour. On their inner surface, are frequently imbedded angular
fragments of quartz, chert, or iron scoriæ. By this contrivance, the
bruising of parched corn or other articles of food would be more easily

Various vessels of common earthenware, such as would be required in
every household for holding water, grain, and kindred substances, are
discovered, occasionally nearly perfect. At Nether Hall some very fine
ones are preserved, which were found in the neighbouring station; one is
twelve inches in diameter, and nearly six deep. Another, of globular
form, is ten inches in diameter, and nine in depth.

Besides these, fragments of thick vessels are frequently met with, which
are of a porous nature, and hence well adapted to withstand the sudden
application of heat. In these, when placed upon the fire, we may readily
conceive that food was baked or stewed.

Other vessels, for the most part of smaller size, more elegant shape,
and composed of finer materials, are of common occurrence. Some are
nearly black, others grey or slate-coloured: these are quite plain and
unembossed. A species of yellow earthen-ware is found, tinted with a
brown pigment, by the partial removal of which, a sort of pattern is
given to it. All these are of British manufacture. Many of the potteries
in which they were fabricated, have been clearly ascertained. The
slate-coloured and grey kinds owe their peculiar hue to the action of
what has been called, the smother kiln. During the process of baking the
vessels, the vent of the furnace has been closed, so as to fill the kiln
with smoke. The unconsumed carbon not only communicated its own hue to
the objects exposed to it, but prevented the iron, which usually forms
the colouring matter of clay, from being converted into the peroxide,
which is of a brick-red colour.[147]

[Sidenote: SAMIAN WARE.]

The finest species of earthenware found in Roman camps, is that called
Samian. It is of a bright coral-red colour. It can at once be detected
by its glaze, which has not yet, in modern times, been successfully
imitated. Some vessels are quite plain, but others are very tastefully
embossed. Plates IX. and XV. furnish specimens of the more ornamental
kind. The large fragment, engraved Plate XV. fig. 1, was found in
sinking the shaft of the famous Wallsend pit. No potteries for the
manufacture of this species of ware, have been found in Britain; and as
the maker’s marks, and the patterns of the embossed varieties correspond
with those found on the continent, it is conceived to be of foreign
origin. Gaul and Spain have been pointed out as the countries from which
the specimens exhumed in Britain were probably procured. The vast
quantity of fragments of Samian ware mingled with the rubbish of some of
the stations is truly remarkable; and not less worthy of observation is
the fact, that not only has the clay of which the broken vessels are
composed, undergone no deterioration by being buried for centuries in
the damp earth, but even the glaze is, to all appearance, uninjured.
That even the plainer kinds of Samian ware have been accounted valuable
by their owners, is evident from the circumstance, that marks and names,
by which they might be identified, have in numerous instances been
scratched upon them. In Plate VII. figs. 9 and 11, are two examples of
this kind, found at CILURNUM, and still preserved there. In some cases
where a vessel has been fractured, it has been joined by clasps of lead.
Fig. 1, Plate VII., is an example of this, also found at CILURNUM. The
process of boring the holes to receive the lead must have been one of
some labour, and would not have been undertaken unless the vessel had
been accounted valuable.

An imitation of the Samian ware seems to have been made in Britain
during the continuance of the Roman period. It is not equal to the
original in colour, texture, or design. Fig. 2, Plate IX. differs in
appearance from true Samian—it may be an imitation.

The lamp shewn on Plate XIV. fig. 4, is of red earthenware, covered with
a black pigment; it proves the vast amount of skill and taste which the
Romans lavished even upon articles of minor importance.


Mill-stones are among the most frequent of the discoveries made in our
Roman stations. Some, found at CILURNUM, are shewn in Plate XIII. fig.
4. They closely resemble the querns which were used in Scotland and the
rural districts of Northumberland, within a recent period. Many of the
stones consist of the mill-stone grit, basalt, or granite of the
district; others are formed of a species of lava which is not procured
in any locality nearer than Rhine Prussia. The advantage of these
foreign stones is, that, though hard, they are porous, and, as they wear
away, still present a continuity of sharp edges to the action of the

The process of grinding the corn by hand-mills must have been a most
tedious one. Probably a large proportion of the grain consumed by the
soldiers of the Barrier was simply boiled, after being slightly bruised
in mortars.

[Sidenote: CONCLUSION.]

Here a period must be put to this account of the Roman Wall and its
antiquities. Many topics worthy of fuller discussion have been but
cursorily treated, and some omitted altogether; but it is impossible, in
a work of this extent, to do full justice to a subject of such
magnitude; we content ourselves with imitating the moderation of
Hadrian, who, instead of grasping at universal empire, sought only a
dominion which he might reasonably hope to maintain.

Still, we may reckon on some advantage from the brief communion we have
held with the Mighty among the Ancients. We can hardly tarry, even for
an hour, in association with the palmy days of the Great Empire, without
learning, on the one hand, to emulate the virtues that adorned her
prosperity, and on the other, to shun the vices that were punished by
her downfall. The sceptre which Rome relinquished, we have taken up.
Great is our Honour—great our Responsibility—

                         ... Heavenly wisdom on this ball
           Creates, gives birth to, guides, consummates all.
           States thrive or wither (as moons wax and wane)
           E'en as His will and His decrees ordain;
           While Honour, Virtue, Piety, bear sway,
           They flourish; and as those decline, decay.

[Illustration: Tail piece—Romæ Æternæ Fortunæ Reduci]


Footnote 137:

  This small altar was found at Benwell, and is now in the possession of
  the Society of Antiquaries, London—it is drawn to twice the usual

Footnote 138:

  On the ides the undefiled priest in the temple of the great Jove
  offers in the flames the entrails of a wether.

Footnote 139:

  Archæologia Æliana, i. 306.

Footnote 140:

  Smith’s Dictionary of Biography and Mythology.

Footnote 141:

  Decurion, a commander of a troop of ten men.

Footnote 142:

  This and the two subsequent cuts are drawn to twice the usual scale.

Footnote 143:

  For further information on this interesting subject the reader is
  referred to two admirable papers by Mr. C. Roach Smith, and Mr. Thomas
  Wright, in the second volume of the Journal of the British
  Archæological Association.

Footnote 144:

  Vows in Trouble, by John Horsley, A.M. London: Printed for Richard
  Ford, at the Angel, in the Poultry, near Stocks market. And sold by R.
  Akenhead, Bookseller, at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1729.—At the time
  Horsley published this book, he was engaged in the preparation of the
  _Britannia Romana_.

Footnote 145:

  Smith’s Collectanea Antiqua i. 21.

Footnote 146:

  The first cohort of the Vangiones were in Britain in the time of
  Hadrian, from whom some of them, in 132, had a discharge from the
  army, with the privilege to marry. They were from Belgic Gaul, and
  were a long time quartered at Risingham, at which station eight of
  their tribunes have left their names on inscriptions.

                                              _Hist. Nor._ II. iii. 183.

Footnote 147:

  See Remains of Roman Art in Cirencester, 78.




 ÆSICA, Great Chesters, 254.
 Agricola lands in Britain, 7.
 ALIONIS, 347.
 Altars, form of, 395.
 AMBOGLANNA, Birdoswald, 278.
 Amphoræ, 445.
 Ancient Britons, description of, 16.
 Apollo, altar to, 411.
 Aqueduct at Great Chesters, 257.
 Arthur, King, traditions respecting, 205.
 Arthur’s Well, 264.
 Astures, a people from Spain, 141.

 Battle of Heaven-field, 167.
 Bede, on the building of the Wall, 379.
 Belatucadrus, altar to, 401.
 Belted Will, 285.
 Benwell, CONDERCUM, 137.
 Bewcastle, 344.
 Binchester, 344.
 Birdoswald, AMBOGLANNA, 278.
 Black-carts farm, Wall on, 196.
 Black-dike, 211.
 Blake-chesters, 321.
 Blast furnace, 443.
 Blea-tarn, 297.
 Bloody-gap, 244.
 Bogle-hole, traditions of, 245.
 BORCOVICUS, Housesteads, 214.
 BORCOVICUS, etymology of, 228.
 Borcum or Barcombe, quarry on, 231.
 Border strife, 296.
 Borders, state of, in middle ages, 209.
 Bradley, 232.
 Brampton, 349.
 Bridge at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 130.
 Bridge over North Tyne, 170.
 Britain, first notice of, 2.
 BREMENIUM, High-Rochester, 325.
 Broaching of the stones, 85.
 Brunton, the Wall at, 169.
 Bueth’s castle, 345.
 Burgh-upon-Sands, 304.
 Burnswark, 356.
 Busy-gap, 207.
 Byker-hill, 118.

 Cæsar’s landing in Britain, 3.
 Carrawburgh, PROCOLITIA, 197.
 Cambeck-fort, PETRIANA, 288.
 Camp kettles, 444.
 Carausius, 21.
 Carlisle, LUGUVALLIUM, 301.
 Carvoran, MAGNA, 267.
 Castella, 67.
 Caw-gap, 246.
 Cemeteries, 183, 262.
 Centurial Stones, 429.
 Chapel-hill, 224.
 Chapel-house, 274.
 Chapel-houses, 147.
 Chesters, CILURNUM, 171.
 Chesterholm, VINDOLANA, 236.
 Chew-green, 325.
 Chives on Walltown crags, 264.
 Christian remains, none on the Wall, 421.
 Christianity, early introduction of into Britain, 422.
 CILURNUM, Chesters, 171.
 _Cippi_, 326.
 Coal wrought by the Romans, 442.
 Cocidius, altar to, 401.
 Coins found on Borcum, 231, 434.
 Coins found in Cambeck fort, 289.
 Coins found in Newcastle bridge, 131.
 Coins, number of Roman, relating to Britain, 37.
 Coins, general remarks upon, 431.
 Coins, number found on the Wall, 432.
 Coins, Roman and Saxon, not commingled, 433.
 Coins, spurious, 365.
 Concrete, hydraulic properties of Roman, 182.
 Constantine proclaimed emperor, 23.
 CONDERCUM, Benwell, 137.
 Corchester, CORSTOPITUM, 332.
 CORSTOPITUM, Corchester, 332.
 Cost of the Wall, 94.
 Cousin’s-house, 113.
 Crags, why the Wall built upon, 201.
 Cumming’s cross, 206.

 _Dea Hamia_, 417.
 _Deæ Matres_, 417.
 Denton Hall, 146.
 Devil’s Wall in Germany, 96.
 Down-hill, 156.
 Drumburgh, 309.
 Dykesfield, 307.

 Earthenware, 445.
 Ebchester, 341.
 Edward I. at Bradley, 233.
 Egyptian triple goddesses, 418.
 Ellenborough, 361.
 Emperors worshipped, 398.
 Epona, altar to, 415.

 Fibulæ, 444.
 Fisher’s-cross, 311.
 Forest, primeval, 310.
 Fortune, altar to, 403.
 Fosse of the Wall, 51.

 Gelt quarry, 385.
 Genius, local, altar to, 399.
 Genius of the Wall, 353.
 Gildas’ account of the miseries of the Britons, 27.
 Glass for windows, 222.
 Goddess mothers, 417.
 Graham’s-dike, 97.
 Great Chesters, ÆSICA, 254.
 Grooves in thresholds of gates, 220.

 HABITANCUM, Risingham, 329.
 Hadrian arrives in Britain, 11.
 Hadrian, death of, 391.
 Hadrian slabs, 383.
 Harlow-hill, 155.
 Halton-chesters, HUNNUM, 159.
 Haltwhistle, 252.
 Haltwhistle-burn-head, 254.
 Hare-hill, 284.
 Heddon-on-the-Wall, 149.
 Hedley, Rev. Anthony, 105.
 Hexham, 194, 339.
 Historical testimonies respecting the building of the Wall, 372.
 Hodgson, Rev. John, 106.
 Horsley, biographical notice of, 103.
 Horsley on Christian vows, 423.
 Hospital, camp, 362.
 Housesteads, BORCOVICUS, 214.
 HUNNUM, Halton-chesters, 159.
 Hypocausts at HUNNUM, 162.
 Hypocausts, their probable use, 180.
 Hypocausts at Chesters, 174.

 Inscriptions, value of, 187.
 Iron wrought by the Romans, 442.
 Irthington, 295.
 Itinerary of Antonine, 328.

 Jarrow, 323.
 Jupiter, altar to, 397.

 Keep of Castle of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 135.
 Kiln for drying corn, 223.
 Kirk-Andrews, 302.

 Lakes of Northumberland, 229.
 _Lamiæ_, 418.
 Langley castle, 231.
 Lanchester, 342.
 Lanercost priory, 284.
 Lanx, the Corbridge, 334.
 Lead wrought by the Romans, 442.
 Legio XX. engaged upon the Wall, 247.
 Limekiln, 327.
 Limestone-bank, 195.
 _Lingones_ at Tynemouth, 108.
 LUGUVALLIUM, Carlisle, 301.

 MAGNA, Carvoran, 267.
 Maiden-way, 269.
 Malcolm Canmore, 321.
 Mars, altars to, 401.
 Maryport, 361.
 Masonry of the Stations, 84.
 Masonry of the Wall, 78.
 Maximus, 319.
 Middleby, 354.
 Mile-castles, 67.
 Mile-castle at Cawfield, 248.
 Mile-stone, 239.
 Mill-stones, 448.
 Military-way, 69.
 Milking-gap, 234.
 Minerva, altar to, 402.
 Mithras, altar to, 404.
 Monument to Edward I., 306.
 Moresby, 366.
 Mortar, Roman, 86.
 _Mortaria_, 445.
 Mountain-god, 415.
 Mumps-hall, 275.
 Murus and Vallum, one design, 387.
 Mythology of Gothic tribes, 421.

 Names of stations ascertained, 61.
 Naworth-castle, 284.
 Netherby, 352.
 Nether-hall, 362.
 Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 121.
 Nine-nicks of Thirlwall, 265.
 North Shields, 321.
 Nymphs, 414.

 Old Carlisle, 360.
 Old Town, 349.
 Ouseburn mile-castle, 119.

 Pap-castle, 366.
 Passage of the Eden, 300.
 Passage of the Irthing, 277.
 Peel-crag, 243.
 Peel-houses, 253.
 PETRIANA, Cambeck-fort, 288.
 Polytheism of the Romans, 398.
 Plumpton, 358.
 PONS ÆLII, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 121.
 PROCOLITIA, Carrawburgh, 197.

 Quarry on Fallowfield fell, 80.
 Quarry on Haltwhistle fell, 80.
 Quarry, Roman, 292.

 Rapishaw-gap, 230.
 Richard of Cirencester on the building of the Wall, 390.
 Risingham, HABITANCUM, 329.
 Rochester, High, BREMENIUM, 325.
 Roman emperors, number who visited Britain, 36.
 Ruts in gateway of Birdoswald, 280.
 Rutchester, VINDOBALA, 150.

 Sacrifices, Roman, 396.
 Samian ware, 447.
 Sandals, Roman, 348.
 Secondary forts, 315.
 SEGEDUNUM, Wallsend, 105.
 Sepulchral inscriptions, 424.
 Severus lands in Britain, 15.
 Severus, death of, 392.
 Sewingshields farm-house, 200.
 Shields’-lawe, 322.
 Silvanus, altar to, 413.
 Speaking pipes in the Wall, 76.
 Stags’-horns, 269.
 Stanwix, 299.
 Stations, description of, 56.
 _Stationes per lineam valli_, 60.
 Steel-rig, 243.
 Stotes-houses, 117.
 Streets, narrowness of, 221.
 Syrian goddess, 412.

 Tepper-moor, 196.
 Terraced gardens, 224.
 Thirlwall-castle, 270.
 Time occupied in building the Wall, 94.
 Toads represented on altars, 416.
 Tower of Repentance, 307.
 Tower-tay, 195.
 Traditions regarding CILURNUM, 192.
 Traditions, Sewingshields, 203.
 Transmarine Mothers, 419.
 Troughs of stone, 158.
 _Tumuli_, 351, 365.
 Turrets, 68.
 Twice-brewed-ale (inn), 233.
 Tynemouth, 318.

 Vallum, description of, 52.
 Vallum, additional rampart of, 283.
 Vangiones, 427.
 Vegetation inimical to the Wall, 93.
 Vespasian and Titus in Britain, 5.
 Viteres, altars to, 395, 416, 417.
 Victory, figure of, 300.
 VINDOBALA, Rutchester, 150.
 VINDOLANA, Chesterholm, 236.

 Wallend, 273.
 Wall, in relation to the rivers, 100.
 Wallis, 349.
 Wall-mill, 262.
 Wall, probable height of, 47.
 Wallsend, SEGEDUNUM, 105.
 Walltown crags, 263.
 Walton, 287.
 Warden-hill, 194.
 Wardley, 324.
 Water-course, ancient, 161, 257.
 Watch-cross, 298.
 Whitley-castle, 346.
 Wreckendike, 322.
 Written rock on the Gelt, 81.

 Zodiacal tablet, #409.#

                           Transcriber’s Note

On p. 178, footnote 86 appears with no anchor in the text. Judging from
the context, the anchor has been placed at the end of the sentence
beginning ‘The stone pillars are...’, which mentions the balusters
referred to in the note.

On p. 317, based on the context, the word ‘stones’ in the phrase ‘all
the trifling [stones] put together’, is most likely a misprinting of

Lapses and inconsistencies in punctuation and format in tabular matter,
or in the Index have been silently corrected.

The index entry 'Fosse of the Wall' is out of order, and its position
has been adjusted.

Errors deemed most likely to be the printer’s have been corrected, and
are noted here.

 p. x.               British Archæ[o]logical Association      Added.

 p. xx.              16. Section of Works, near eighteenth    Transposed.
                     mile-stone [25/52]

 p. xxiii.           164. Sc[lu]/ul]pture to the Deæ Matres   Transposed.

 p. 8                f[ri/ir]ths                              Transposed.

 p. 16               that ascend from these marshes.[”]       Removed.

 p. 50               T[ih/hi]s portion                        Transposed.

 p. 62               wh[i]ch is thus inscribed                Added.

 p. 65         n. 34 and in the neig[h]bourhood               Added.

 p. 103        n. 54 a native of No[r]thumberland             Added.

                     The mi[l]liary which told to Hadrian’s   Added.

 p. 134              suc[c]essor                              Added.

 p. 150              so that a [a ]greater portion            Line break

 p. 204              have bee[e]n widely diffused             Removed.

 p. 258              artific[i]al mound                       Added.

                     Wher[e]ever                              line break

 p. 310              circu[cu]lar                             Removed.

 p. 362              The body of [of] the road                Removed.

 p. 380       n. 135 is now known in the [p/d]istrict         Corrected.

 p. 407              dis[c]ipline                             Added.

 p. 423              _deserve[r]dly_                          Removed.

 p. 430              vi[n]cinity                              Removed.

 p. 447              f[n/u]rnace                              Corrected.

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