Tuesday, 20 January 2015

HADRIAN'S WALL; 'Housesteads' Roman Fort and a 16th century 'Bastle House'

Housteads Roman Fort Hadrian's Wall.
A quick visit to Hadrians wall in Northumberland just north of the towns of Haltwhistle and Hexham on the 14th of January 2015 provided some inspiring views. A notoriously troublesome area made famous by the Roman garrisoning of the area circa 125AD-400AD against the Picts as well as the much later Border Reiver 'wars' of the 13-17th century. The Fort lies along the wall and had a garrison of approximately 800 auxiliary soldiers, many civilian buildings were found just outside the walls.
Housesteads Roman fort from the South. Hadrians wall is just over the ridge.

An auxliary force of Tungrians (an ancient German tribe supplying the Roman Empire with recruits) are known to have been its garrison.
a shallow valley below Housesteads Fort
Several temples were known to have been located below the Fort in this area.
The 16th century Bastle House a re-used (Roman) tower at Housesteads
One of the roman southern gatehouse towers converted to a Bastle house, these were fortified refuges to protect homesteads during the Border Reiver scourge of the 16th century.
Bastle House info plaque

Inside the fort looking north; The Roman Commandant's House

inside the fort looking northwest

the granary looking east

Hadrian's wall looking west

Hadrian's wall looking north east

info plaque in the snow!
Although the weather was bit snowy when I was in Northumberland last week, I followed the A68 south (so obviously a Roman road, drive it and you'll see why) from my visit to the medieval Otterburn Battlefield. The last few miles were along the A6079 to Chester's Roman fort then followed the B6318 west along the course of Hadrian's wall, the earth works sometimes cross the modern road. A temple of Mithras appears to the left of the road and then Housesteads Museum appears shortly afterwards on the right. Considering it is midwinter the Museum and shop were open and full access granted to visitors (£6.50 admission fee), some people where coming off the wall and me, my sister and her two dogs ran around in the snow. The museum houses a good variety of Roman artifacts found when the wall was excavated. Well worth a visit of a couple of hours. The English heritage 48 page full colour guide to Housesteads cost me just £3.50 a bargain I think. Anyhow with a couple of books under my arm I left the site with the intention of returning to see all the things I had missed on this first visit. Apparently Vindolanda has a very good museum so that'll be good for a visit when it re-opens 7th february 2015.

The Roman Mile Towers can be seen sporadically as we progressed westwards along the B6318 road, it is quite surprising how much is left after it was abandoned sixteen hundred years ago.

Further west are Vindolanda closed for the winter, The Roman army museum and even further west Birdswold's Roman Fort.

I'll write a bit on 13th-16th century 'Bastle Houses' and 'Peel' (or Pele) towers in Northumberland in a future blog post, these defences against the Reiver scourge numbered around 76 in number, though few survive today.

All the Best, Peter.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Make your comments here :)