Birdoswald

The last fort of the central part of the wall is Birdoswald; beyond this, the wall leaves the uplands and crosses the fertile Cumberland plain.  Birdoswald is near the point where originally the turf wall gave way to a stone wall,  though later when Septimius Severus rebuilt the wall, he replaced the turf wall by a stone wall.

 

The only excavated part of the fort are the two granaries, the essential part of any fort where supplies were stored.  These photos show how buttresses were added to one of the granaries where the wall bulged to contain the weight of the corn stored inside it.  The granaries remained in use well after the decline of Roman rule and sometime around the 8th century AD they were demolished and were replaced a great timber feasting hall, the pitposts for which are marked by wooden boxes.

 

The Birdoswald fort. The defensive wall can be seen on the righ,t while the return wall can just be seen on the running along beneath the trees. There is an extensive civilian settlement behind the Fort where recently some interesting burials have been excavated.

In the 19th century the farmhouse was purchased by Henry Norman who became an ardent antiquary and he spruced up his house by adding a military looking wing to one end and crenellations over the doorway: the modern museum and facilities are in the backyard, and it makes an impressive backdrop to the Roman remains.

 

In it is Turret 52A (Banks East) which was originally a stone tower built within the turf section of the Wall.

 

Going westwards from Birdoswald there is an impressive length of the stone wall as built by Septimius Severus on top of the turf wall.

 

A short distance to the east is the interesting site of Pike Hill.  This was originally a signal station erected well before the building of Hadrian’s Wall, when the army was situated in the forts along the Stanegate Road several miles to the south. But the Stanegate forts felt the need to have advanced warning of barbarian activity to the north, so they erected this small signal station on Pike Hill from which there are very good views both from the north and to the forts to the south at Nether Denton or Castle Hill.  However when the wall was built, it came up and incorporated the former signal station, albeit at an angle.

 

This is the way back to the turret and the coaches.  I managed to stagger up to Pike Hill despite the fact that my walking these days is very limited.  And sadly on trying to climb back onto the coaches my knees gave way and I gashed my leg and made me something of an invalid.  For me this is an evocative photo!

 

 

On to Maryport and the Cumberland coast defences

 

26th August 2019