Hadrians Wall - Day 6 - Heddon-on-the-Wall to Wallsend
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The final day, and a journey into the busy city centre and industrial areas of Newcastle and along the River Tyne. This trail deviates from the original route of the wall in a number of places, but delivers a picturesque route along the Tyne into the City Centre, or you can travel along the wall which main leads you straight along Hexham Road.
The river walk may not be Roman, but it does give you lovely views of the many modern bridges over the river Tyne. Once past the Roman site of Pons Aelius and the bridge it protected. A few more miles of urban walking, with the wall hidden below the city streets, brings you to Segedunum, Wallsend. The easternmost part of the wall, Segedunum, is the most extensively excavated fort along the trail and an ideal end to your adventure.
Following the Wall
From the consolidated stretch of wall at Heddon, at the end of which there are steps up to the road, which you need to cross to reach pavement.
We climb to the top of Great Hill, with Turret 11B (Great Hill) located just to the east of the summit. There is a gentle, downhill slope before us with the Wall running in a dead straight line to Milecastle 11. The overgrown ditch is to our left, the wall beneath the southern carriageway, and the Vallum in the field to the right, sometimes visible as a crop mark. The north carriageway lies on the line of the berm which was excavated during work to the water mains. It was found that the berm was covered with pits, possibly designed to hold obstacles such as thorn bushes – effectively acting as barbed wire or they may be from an an early timber predecessor to Hadrian’s Wall.
We pass the slightly inset houses of Frenchmen’s Row on the left, which was home to refugee French royalists in the late 18th century. Turret 11A (Heddon Hall) is probably locate4d below the road here. When we crest the hill down to Throckley, we are probably at the location of Milecastle 11 (Throckley Bank Top). Possibly located under the working men’s club south of the road.
We pass the probably location of Turret 10B (Throckley) and then meet a roundabout. The roundabout marks a major drove road from Scotland to England, which would have crossed the Tyne by the ford at Newburn. It was also used by a Scottish Covenanter army in 1640, which lead to a skirmish called the Battle of Newburn.
Looking to the south side of the road, and the terraces of houses in Walbottle, you can sometimes see a change in the vegetation which marks the course of the vallum.
Descending to Walbottle, we pass a St. Cuthbert’s Primary School built over the Vallum with Turret 9B (Walbottle) under a modern road (Hawthorn Terrace) near the west end of the school.
Turret 9A position has never been located but probably near the sign which says we are entering Blucher Village. The village is named after the coal mine that once stood here, which was named after Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, the Prussian general who saved the day at the Battle of Waterloo. As we approach the A69, we come to the end of the terrace of houses, and fields open out to the south, we reach the site of Milecastle 9, shyly loitering behind a park bench and a flowerbed.
Milecastle 9 (Chapel House) is a long-axis milecastle was excavated in 1929, 1951, and 2000. Three skeletons (one of them headless) were also found which were thought to be Roman or post-Roman. Walk along the B6528 before crossing over the A69 on the footbridge. Walk along westlands Road passing Turret 8B (Union Hall) which was investigated in 1929, but the road was later realigned and now lies over the site, leaving no visible surface trace of the turret.
Head straight across the roundabout and continue along Roman Way. Turret 8A (West Denton) was located in 1929 based on pottery and occupation earth finds although its position is in dispute. As Roman Way turns into South View you can cross over the footbridge so you are south of the A69.
Returning to the curtain wall, we cross the A69/A1 interchange by a subway and footbridge. When this road was constructed, the curtain wall and Vallum were excavated and rendering was found which raised the question whether the wall was plastered or not.
To the east the A1 we come to Turret 7B – Denton Hall Turret with a fine piece of curtain wall surviving to either side of it. This was excavated in 1929. When the housing estate to the south was built just before the Second World War, building stones recording construction work by cohors I Dacorum were found in the Vallum. The turret, with its door on the eastern side, has what may be a ladder base in the south-west corner, designed to afford access to its upper levels. Next to it was a hearth to provide some warmth and cooking facilities.
On up the hill post the Denton Burn Library lies a small piece of curtain wall at Denton Burn. The burn itself was carried through the wall by means of a culvert. A little further on between Soloman’s and the service station, there are a few stones of the north face of the curtain wall.
Cross the roundabout and head up the hill. The road is still on the line of the ditch, the curtain wall is located to the front of properties on your right, and the pavement is roughly the line of the berm.
Turret 7A is located in Denton Burn, in between Thorntree Drive and Brignall Gardens. During the construction of a nearby house in 1923 a sestertius coin dating to the reign of Emperor Trajan was discovered.
Milecastle 7 (Benwell Bank or Benwell Hill) has not been located, but is probably in the grounds of Saint Cuthbert’s High School. Three stones have been found in the area of Milecastle 7 bearing the markings of the Legio II Augusta. Their style dates them to the late 2nd century AD, suggesting that the wall here was repaired around that date.
Just past the next roundabout we come to the position of Turret 6B (Benwell Hill) was discovered by Robert Shafto in 1751, during construction of the Military Road.
The road continues to gently climb until the summit in Benwell, where the next fort was located.
Benwell fort (CONDERCUM) was built after the Wall and its ditch and before the Vallum, which made a detour to the south to avoid it, and it is another of those that straddles the line of the curtain wall.
North of the road the fort has been destroyed by the building of a modern reservoir, and to the south is has been built over. It was garrisoned in the 2nd century by the cohors I Vangionum, then in the 3rd and 4th centuries by the ala I Asturum. An inscription also records their presence at Chesters, which has led to the though that they were split across the two sites. Also the fort was not big enough to have contained the Vangiones (a double-strength mixed infantry and cavalry force).
Although there is nothing to see of the fort you can see some remains of a Vallum Crossing and the Temple of Antenociticus.
Turn right down Denhill Park and head down either road as it forks. At the bottom of the road is the only surviving crossing of the Vallum that is on display.
The current Vallum ditch is only about half its original depth. The road across the ditch had a monumental stone-founded gateway, the base of which can still be seen, as can the sockets for the gates themselves. Behind the gateway, the road has been stepped to convey the impression of several succeeding surfaces. As we leave the enclosure, inspect the large piece of stone near the iron gate, which is a socket block that retains its original iron socket lining.
Head back out of Denhill Park, to the main road, head into newcastle and then take the next right into Weidner Road, right onto Westholme Gardens and left onto Broomridge Avenue. The second house is missing, in its place is the Temple of Antenociticus. A small building, containing concrete replicas of the original altars, which are now in the Great North Museum: Hancock. Antenociticus was a local god and a stone head found here has been identified as representing the deity.
Head back to the main road, we pass the approximate position of Turret 6A before the next junction. Head straight on and you pass the approximate position of Milecastle 6 (Benwell Grove).
Once past the site of Milecastle 6, we continue along the flat for a while, passing the estimated position of Turret 5B (Milecastle 4 was found some distance away from its presumed location which has called into question the estimated location of the turrets. After passing the imposing red brick Westgate Hill Primary School to our left we pass a patch of ground on our right which is the estimated position of Turret 5A. After this we finally beginning our descent to the Tyne.
Milecastle 5 (Quarry House) is possibly located after Westgate Hill Cemetery by the junction of Elswick Road. Horsley ‘thought there were some visible remains of a Castellum [milecastle], just behind the quarry house’, but modern scholars are sceptical and the site has yet to be found.
The Junction of with the A186 is the estimated position of Turret 4B. Continuing on as you pass the o2 Academy building on your right, you have the Newcastle Arts Centre on your left. In the backyard of the Newcastle Arts Centre during the digging of a drain Milecastle 4 was found. Milecastle 4 was found to be a long-axis milecastle. As it was not found where it was thought to be then the estimated positions of Milecastles 5 and 6 were moved along a bit. The site is open for the public in the Blackswan Courtyard of the Arts Centre.
The line of the Wall is continued along Westgate Road, across the large triangular traffic island, with the statue of eminent engineer George Stephenson, then across Neville Street. At the end of the road – past the bridge you will see the Black Gate (part of the castle).
Although Newcastle was the original eastern end of the Wall, the fort Pons Aelii was not built here until the Antonine period, probably at the same time as the bridge across the Tyne was built. The fort is mostly situated underneath the castle. The garrison included the cohors I Ulpia Traiana Cugernorum in the 3rd century and cohors I Cornoviorum in the 4th. A stone recording the cohors I Thracum may refer to another garrison from Newcastle, or possibly from an as-yet-undiscovered fort in Gateshead. The fort does not seem to have been attached to the curtain wall and it was polygonal in form.
Marked out on the pavement are parts of the headquarters building (principia) and the commanding officer’s house (praetorium). To the north side of the keep, before the railway arches, and you’ll also see parts of two granaries marked out. The bridge at Pons Aelii has yet to be located but it must have been situated close to where the Swing Bridge is now located.
Head back under the bridge to the cathedral. The curtain wall may have passed through the cathedral or nearby churchyard. Turn right at the cathedral until you reach Dean Street. Dean Street lies on the line of the now subterranean Lort Burn and it is though that the Wall must have crossed the burn halfway down the street. Continue to the Swan House Roundabout and cross it via the subway, heading down Melbourne street. We are now close to the line of the wall, which runs slightly to the south of us.
Further along Melbourne Street, we pass the presumed location of Turret 3B. As the street changes to Howard Street the Wall is now to our north. Turn left at onto Crawhall Road and then right onto Coquet Street which runs along the line of the Wall. Follow the road round until it meets Stepney Bank and turn right down the hill, past the Ship Inn. At Ouseburn Farm, take the footpath on the right to cross the Ouseburn. Head straight up the other side to Leighton Street and take the steps to our left. At the top as you approasch Byker Bridge you are by Milecastle 3 (Ouseburn). Remains of the milecastle have never been found.
It is now time to cross the main road and walk under the Metro bridge to head up Shields Road – directly on the line of the Wall. The road follows the ditch and the curtain wall is behind the shop frontages. After about 1/5 km, on the right-hand side there is a paved square with a large dolphin mosaic. There are some foundations of the part of the wall and small metal studs marking the location of some berm pits.
We will pass the estimated location of Turret 2B although different estimated positions have been suggested. At the end of Shields Road – head straight across at the roundabout to the A187 – or the Fossway ( ‘foss’ – ditch and road – ‘way’). We will soon pass the possible location of Turret 2B. The pavement on the south side is as near to the line of the wall, of which there is nothing to see until we reach the probably location of Milecastle 2, near the entrance to Newcastle Stadium.
Turret 1B was probably located just west of the junction of the A187 Fossway, and Roman Avenue. Turret 1A was probably located very near to what is now the junction of the A187 Fossway, and Coutts Road.
Continuing on the road, on your left, we see a sports field, which is the probable location of Milecastle 1 (Stott’s Pow). The Fosseway is now deviating from the line of the wall since the last roundabout, so the Milecastle is set back away from the road.
We continue eastwards along Fossway. When it turns into Maurice Road estimated location of the turret is to the north west. Then the road swings to the north-eastwards and becomes Neptune Road and then Buddle Street.
Location: 2 Marius Ave, Heddon-on-the-Wall, Newcastle upon Tyne NE15 0EB, UK
Read more about Hadrian’s Wall – Milecastle 12 – Heddon
The Trail Heddon On the Wall to Newcastle
The trail takes you through Heddon-on-the-wall, then starts heading west along Heddon Banks Road – away from Newcastle! It swings back to the south and heads to the Tyne. You descend through Ashbank Wood to Close House Golf Course, skirt clockwise around it through Hemmel Wood to the Tyne.
The Golf course surrounds Close House, built in 1779 for the private use of the Bewicke family. During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries there is evidence of a monastic house at the site, which was owned at the time by the Turpin family and then later by the Read Family. It was bought by Robert Bewicke in 1626. He was a Merchant Venturer and the Sheriff of Newcastle. It stayed in the family until the early part of the twentieth century. Since then the property was Nursing Training College in the war, part of Durham University, and now a Conference centre and Golf Course.
This section of the walk along the Tyne is along sheltered waterside tracks with mature trees to shelter you from the rain or shine, with the occasional ploughed field to traverse.
Located West of Ryton Island, just after you are joined by another path you come across a stone marker. It is a is a modern stone carved with the arms of the corporation of Newcastle and the date 1783. The ‘tide stone’ marked the limit upstream of the Port of Tyne Authority. Formerly, it marked the upper point at which the river was tidal; marked in the river by a shallow rapid known as the Hedwin Streams. The corporation of Newcastle used to survey the bounds from Tynemouth to Hedwin Streams in their barge every Ascension Day. Locals used to know the stone as the ‘kissing stone’, because here the Mayor of Newcastle would alight at the stone and kiss who he judged to be the prettiest Heddon girl from those assembled, presenting her with a golden sovereign. The last annual survey took place in 1851. Afterwards it was made every five years, and then, by the River Tyne Improvement Commission, every seven.
Further on you come to an area with trees and foliage to both sides. This is Ryton Island -which was at one time in the parish of Ryton in Durham to the south side of the river – an anomaly due to a change in the course of the river. A ferry used to operate between Ryton Island and the south bank of the river. On the north shore the remains of the wooden jetty used by the ferry still stand. Archie Scott, the ferryman, had a house on the island which was washed away during a severe flood. A new ferry house was built on the south bank and the ferry ran until 1951 connecting Ryton and Heddon on the Wall. The white house on the south bank, west of Ryton Willows is still known as Ferry House.
Next you come to Tyne Riverside Country park which follows the River Tyne for four miles through 200 acres of meadows, chalk grassland, woodland and river bank. The Park is formed from reclaimed industrial land, previously occupied by Isabella Colliery.
We pass a slipway with a coffee shop before entering Newburn.
The Battle of Newburn Ford took place here in 1640 between England and Scotland. The Scots went on to occupy Newcastle just two days later.
We part company with the Tyne at the Newburn Bridge and head into Lemington along an old railway line. We lose the railway and join a footpath called Hadrians Way. It passes close to the Lemington Centre which is an ideal rest stop.
We need to detour to pass over the A1, before heading downhill towards the Tyne. At Denton Rd turn right until you see to the sculpture of a pitman, pony and two children on the small traffic island at the junction of Fowberry Road and Denton Road. Head down Fowberry Road and onto a footpath.
It is in remembrance of the 38 men and boys killed in the Montagu View Pit disaster on 30 March 1925, when an inrush of water from the nearby abandoned Paradise Pit flooded the deep Brockwell Seam. Some of the bodies were not recovered until January 1926. The pitman, pony and tank depict the past heritage, with the pitman leading the children to the future. The girl is taking his photo with her mobile phone.
After about a km you need to cross Scotswood Road, continue for a short while before turning off to the right to walk alongside the river, which we follow into Newcastle centre. You will pass under Redheugh bridge, two railway bridges, High Level Bridge, and Swing Bridge. At that point you could turn off and head for the Newcastle Bridge and the fort of Pons Aelius. The swing Bridge was also thought to be to site of the old Roman Bridge.
Once you are back here walk under Tyne Bridge and Gateshead Bridge, pass over the Gleann Ouseburn and you walk along the Tyne for another 1/2 km before drifting away from it along St Lawrence Road, before heading back for Chandlers Quay and St Peters Marina.
You walk through ‘Walker Riverside Park’ a park created in the 1980s on reclaimed industrial land, before leaving it to head to Wallsend.
Location: Castle Garth, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1RQ, UK | Hours: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm | Price: £7 per adult and £4 per child | Website
Read more about Newcastle Castle
Eventually you reach Segedunum museum at Wallsend fort is on our right and a reconstructed length of the curtain wall to our left. The replica to the south of the excavated curtain wall and a series of short posts mark the position of berm obstacles.
Wallsend fort (SEGEDVNVM) was once thought to be an afterthought, constructed when the course of the Wall was extended in the Hadrianic period. The garrison was cohors II Nerviorum in the 2nd century and cohors I Lingonum in the 3rd and 4th centuries and both of these were part-mounted. We can now explore the fort and museum.
Location: Segedunum Roman Fort & Museum Buddle St Wallsend Newcastle upon Tyne NE28 6HR | Hours: 10am-5pm Jun–mid-Sep, to 4pm Easter-May & mid-Sep–early Nov, to 2.30pm Mon-Fri early Nov-Easter | Price: adult/child £6/free | Website
Read more about Segedunum
From Wallsend head north up Station Road to get to the Metro Station.
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