button to main menu  Camden's Britannia, edn 1789

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Page 216:-
  The Wall, dimensions
[oc]casioned this error. There may have been also some exploratory castles belonging to Hadrian's work, though there be little appearance of such at present., unless the small remains at Chappel houses near Newburn, and those near Heddon on the wall, which we call Castle steeds, be of this sort. The smaller turrets have been more generally and intirely ruined than the castella, so that it is hard to find any three of them together with any certainty. But there were probably four of them between every two castella, and they were about four feet square. This short distance makes the alarm-pipe as unecessary as it it is fanciful and fictitious. There have also been 18 larger forts or stations on or near the wall, at about four miles asunder. The wall generally runs on the top or ridge of the higher ground, keeping a descent on the north or enemy's side, and thereby has a greater strength and better prospect. Hadrian's vallum differs in this respect, but both seem to have been carried on pretty much in a strait line from station to station. Where Watling-street passes the wall there is a visible track of a square gate, and the ditch belonging to the wall manifestly goes about the other half of it, the inner half being so visible. This gate seems to be of much the same size with the castles 60 feet square, only these are wholly within the wall but the gate within and without. The other two military ways seem to have crossed at the station of Caernarvon and Stanwicks. The thickness of the wall is from seven feet to seven feet four inches at the foundation, probably a Roman pace and an half near Boulness on the Solway frith, where the tides come up to it it measures nine feet. The military way measured constantly about 17 feet, perhaps three and an half Roman paces. The ditch of Hadrian's vallum is near nine feet deep and eleven over and the sides sloping. That of Severus was wider and deeper. Hadrian's wall is of earth sometimes mixed with stone. Severus's of free stone, sometimes formed on oak piles, the inner filling of stones pretty large, broad, and thin, set on edge obliquely in mortar [i]. Severus's wall reaches at each end beyond Hadrian's [k]. If we divide the wall into four equal parts, the one and three quarters from the east end seem to have been built by the Leg. II. Aug. and the two and last by the Leg. VI. Victrix. Hadrian's ended east at Newcastle, and Severus's at Cousin's house, and at Boulness west [l]. It had on it eighteen castella or stations.
Mr Horsley's account of The Wall
The following account of the present state of Hadrian's vallum, and the wall of Severus is taken from Mr. Horsley's Britannia Romana: c.9. p.135.
  The Wall, state of preservation
"I shall reduce these remains to four degrees of appearance: As to Hadrian's vallum, I would call it the highest or fourth degree, if in any part the present state could be supposed to be nearly equal to what it originally was, but this I think never is the case; the first and lowest degree is, when there are any certain visible remains or vestiges, though not very large; and the second and third are the intertmediate degrees, as they approach nearer to the highest or lowest. But in the stone wall I call that the fourth degree, where any of the original regular courses are remaining, and usually name the number of courses. Where the original stones remain upon the spot, though not in their regular order, I call it the third degree; where the rubbish is high and distinct, though covered with earth, or grown over with grass, I call it the second; and the first is where there are any remaining vestiges of the wall though faint and obscure.
"Severus's wall has manifestly terminated in a square fort or station, above a furlong to the east of the mansion called COUSIN'S HOUSE. The ruins of a Roman station and town at this place are still very discernible; though it has all been plowed, and is now a very rich meadow. The stones and rubbish of the buildings are levelled, and covered with earth and grass; but the ramparts of the fort may be distinctly traced out, both they and the ditch being visible at least in one degree almost quite round. There are very evident remains of two turrets at the western and eastern entries to the station, and of another at the south-west corner. The west entry has been close to the wall, and the eastern one directly opposite to it. The fort has been about 140 yards, or perhaps six chains, square, and so the contents of it above three acres and an half. About sixty yards of the western and eastern sides lie without, or to the north of the line of the wall, and 80 within it; so that the wall falls upon the sides of the station, not far from the middle of them. The south rampart of this fort is about three quarters of a furlong from the river side, and runs along the brow of the hill, or at the head of a considerable descent from thence to the river. There have been ruins of buildings on this part, and to the south-west of the fort; but they are now so levelled and covered, that little evidence appears above ground; yet the stones and remains of rubbish are easily discovered when the surface is anywhere removed: and some of these inequalties in the surface, which usually arise from ruins, yet remain, and may easily be perceived to be hillocks of stones or rubbish. Mr. Gordon supposes that the wall itself forms almost a right angle, and then is continued down to the side of the river [m]. But it is the western rampart of the station which makes that angle with the wall. Nor does this rampart reach to the river, though 'tis likely the town, or buildings without the fort, may have extended so far. On the north side of the station there are some crooked risings and settlings of the ground, which at first view appeared to me not unlike a round fort or tower, projecting from the station with a triple rampart and ditch. The two closes in which the Roman town and station have stood, are called Well-lawes, perhaps it had been Wall-lawes; there being other instances wherein the names well and wall have been changed one for the other. If the name lawes be owing to the rising ground only, the termination lawes or lowes, which signifies hills, so far correspond to the Roman name Segdunum: but as there are yet two distinct tumuli remaining near the Beehouses, and not far from these closes: I rather think that from these and a supposition that the ruins of the station and buildings about it were of the same nature, these closes may have borrowed this name; a lawe or lowe being one of those names by which such tumuli are frequently expressed [n]. There is one remarkable ruinous heap in the south-west corner of the western close, which is supposed to have been an antient building, perhaps a temple; though it might be mistaken for a tumulus. There are some inscriptions
[i] Horsley, p.118, 119, 120, 121, 122, 123.
[k] Ib. 127.
[l] Ib. 130. 134.
[m] Itin. Septent. p.70.
[n] The field, in which the station at South Shields has stood, is called the Lawe. Formerly it went by the name of the Burrough meadow.
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