English Heritage has recently renewed their interpretation boards for the restored section of hadrian's Wall on the east side of Heddon village. The two boards at each end of our section of the Wall feature reconstruction artworks by Peter Lorimer.
Following the excitement with the find of a section of Hadrians Wall on the Town Farm development site we now report on a new archaeology find, close to the eastern entrance.
We must await the full archaeology report but it is clearly a medieval or post-medieval corn-drying kiln, very simillar to that built into the conserved section of Hadrian's Wall, slightly further east, across Towne Gate.
The excavation was undertaken by an archaeologist from Wardell Armstrong, and my photos taken, with careful regard for health & safety, through the wire fence at the east entrance to the building site.
The location of the kiln is likley to lie close to, but just to the north of the line of Hadrian's Wall, which hadn't been visible in this area of the site.
Behind the circular part of the kiln in the foreground is a deep fire-pit bounded by large masonry on the south side.
Photos below, taken in June 2017, are of the old Town Farm (Tulip's Yard) before demolition of the old buildings.
Photos below of the revealed section of Hadrian's Wall taken by Bill Pointer 8th March 2019.
Those who have followed developments of the former site of Town Farm, later Tulip’s Haulage Yard, on the East side of the village will have seen in the past weeks, the old, derelict buildings of the farmstead demolished, a new section of Hadrian’s Wall briefly found and cleared, and the site prepared for the building of five new bungalows.
I don’t know much about the early history of Town Farm but have speculated that it was in place in 1750 requiring the slight adjustment of General Wade’s Military Road from using the line (and foundations) of Hadrian’s Wall, west from Great Hill. This led to the preserved section of the Wall otherwise largely destroyed and covered by the road. This road, the first properly constructed road in Northumberland since Roman times, became the Newcastle to Carlisle Turnpike and later the A69, before it was abandoned and the bypass constructed.
Beside the old road, below the retaining wall of the Town Farm site, still stands a milestone recording a distance of 7 miles from Newcastle’s West gate. It is probably one of the original milestones of the turnpike road from around 1780.
The original farm may have adjoined the old buildings, incorporating both farmhouse and barn as one long building. The two-storey farmhouse still standing on the north side of the old road, previously Four Winds and now Glanville House, was probably a much later addition.
At one time, like much of the village, it was owned by the Clayton family. The farmer in 1901 was William Stephenson who lived in the farmhouse with his wife Sarah and six children. William had been born at Rudchester and was nephew of William Stephenson who founded Throckley Brick Works and whose son, Sir William Haswell Stephenson of the Throckley Coal Company was seven times Lord Mayor of Newcastle.
In 1901 a gamekeeper, George Charlton, lived in what is now Keepers Cottage. He died in 1931 and has a gravestone in St Andrew’s churchyard erected by Brigadier General Sir Loftus Bates of Heddon Hall ‘in memory of an old friend’.
There was a large fire at Town Farm in 1913 which destroyed buildings and livestock. It was fought by local people until the fire brigade arrived from Newburn, alerted by a youth on a bicycle.
In 1918 it was bought for £3000, along with many of the other village properties, by Sir James Knott who had a vision of turning Heddon into a model village. However, after the events of the First War and loss of his two sons, his interest in the village came to an end. Town Farm was Lot 1 in his sale of 1924. Town Farm, on the site of the Roman Wall, including 38 acres of old grass land, was sold to Adam and James Hedley for £2800. They were already faming Bays Leap, bought from the Claytons in 1918. James Knott retained the small field containing the currently preserved section of Hadrian’s Wall which he later instructed to be gifted to the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne.
Around 1927, Town Farm was rented from the Hedleys by William Ward Sanderson. He lived in the farmhouse and farmed the fields on the east side of the village, milking cows in a parlour at the farmstead, cutting hay on the site of the Roman Wall and running a local shop selling cigarettes and confectionary. The end of farming came when the land was sold for the building of the Vallum housing estate in the 1950s. The farm buildings became part of Tulip’s Yard, base for a successful haulage company.
The wall of the farm next to the old road sported adverts for the local shop and a Heddon on the Wall road-sign on a photo of army cadets resting on the grass below taken around 1950. Part of this photo was used on the album of The Eton Rifles by The Jam in 1979.
Demolition of the farm buildings in the past weeks and thorough archaeological excavation of the site has revealed the continuation of Hadrian’s Wall in two runs of large stones marking the lower course of its north face, and rubble core set in clay remaining below the old buildings. Most of the stones had been previously robbed and presumably reused elsewhere, perhaps including the church and even the buildings of Town Farm. Milecastle 12, known by measurement to be in this vicinity, hasn’t yet been found and may have been further west, perhaps under the garden north of Tank House. Similar remains of the Wall are known to exist below the tarmac of General Wade's road something that causes all sorts of problems for utility companies wanting to dig holes.
Cadwallader Bates in his History of Heddon published 1886: This mile-castle probably stood to the east of the pond, on the hill-top now covered with ruins of cottages. The Rev. G. Bowlker, vicar of Heddon, has heard that the people who lived in these cottages, in digging a hole in front of them for burying a horse, came on old foundations and what they described as a grave-stone with letters on it. This they promptly broke up.
Nothing has been agreed to date but interest has been expressed in the village obtaining at least some of the Hadrian’s Wall stones if they are not wanted elsewhere, perhaps to enhance the area around the Victrix sculpture, letting us put the centurion close to a little part of the fabric of the original Roman Wall.
Map rendering provided by houseprices.io free to use under Creative Commons Attribution Licence CC BY 4.0
Having taken part in the pilot study of the Hadrian's Wall Stone Sourcing & Dispersal Project I thought I would try to find out a little more about the Roman stone shown above.
Along with two other carved stones (probably not Roman), it sits on the inside window-ledge of the window at the west end of the north aisle, inside the little meetings room divided by glass panels from the bulk of the church.
It appears not to have an inscription but its size and moulding bears much resemblance to other stones found along Hadrian's Wall which record the particular centurial unit involved with building or maintaining a specific length of the Wall's fabric.
Below is the official briefing document for the pilot study of a new proposed Hadrian's Wall Community Archaeology Project taking place in Heddon on the Wall over three days in March and April 2018.
The project is organised and supported by archaeologists at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.
The Stone Sourcing and Dispersal project (SS&D, also known as Where’s Hadrian’s Wall Gone?) is part of a proposed three year project, the Hadrian’s Wall Community Archaeology Project, which in parallel with the SS&D will be working with community groups to investigate a significant number of areas along the entire length of the Wall that are currently classified as Heritage at Risk. Work will also be carried out to take action, working with the community, to ameliorate the risks to the Wall.
During the Jacobite uprising of 1745, the government forces based in Newcastle, under Field Marshall George Wade, were unable to cross to Carlisle in time to intercept the rebels and in fact bad weather and poor roads halted them near Hexham.
It was reported that departing Newcastle’s Town Moor on the 16th November, infantry only made it to Ovington by night. The roads were “terribly broken and full of ice” and men were sent out with lights and carts to bring them up, a process that went on till the march was continued next morning at nine. The first troops reached Hexham about four that afternoon, the rear at midnight, when, they could proceed no further because of the snow. They pitched camp on the south side of the union of the two Tynes and were provided with straw by the townsfolk who also kindled fires all over the ground as a protection against the severe cold. Wade waited three days for a thaw and, when none came, returned to Newcastle. He arrived on 22nd November, his army almost spent with fatigue and having failed dismally to halt the progress of the rebels.
One of Wade’s party, Thomas Sayer, later reported, “That he is well acquainted with the Road from Carlisle to Hexham, which is mostly through an open Country, with very few Houses, not One Part in Ten of the said Road being through inclosed Grounds: That the Country is rocky, mountainous, and boggy, and absolutely impassable, both in Summer and Winter, for heavy Carriages; and there are several Waters in the said Road, which frequently overflow and render it impassable.” The maps designated it as a ‘Summer Road’.
In 1749 a letter from the Duke of Northumberland with attached petition was referred to the Surveyor General. They asked “That Leave be given to bring in a Bill for laying out, making, and keeping in Repair, a Road proper for the Passage of Troops and Carriages between the said City of Carlisle and Town of Newcastle, in such Manner as to the House shall seem meet.”
In July to September 1749, a survey was undertaken by two military engineers, Dugal Campbell and his assistant Hugh Debbeig. Although it is often called ‘General Wade’s Military Road’, Field Marshall Wade (to give him his correct rank) in fact died in his home in Bath in 1748 and there is no evidence he had anything to do with it. It is suggested, however, that a possible instigator of the proposal, Lancelot Allgood of Nunwick, who became Sheriff of Northumberland in 1745, may have heard, first hand, the Field Marshal’s bitter remarks about the roads over which he had just struggled to Hexham, comparing them with roads that he (Wade) had made in the Highlands some years before. Allgood became a Member of Parliament in 1749 and was actively associated not only with the Military Road but also with the Corn Road from Hexham to Alnmouth.
The outcome of the survey was a map measuring about ten feet six inches long by two feet wide covering five sheets joined together to make a roll. It covered an area roughly sixty miles long (i.e. from about three miles east of Newcastle to about two miles west of Carlisle) by about six miles broad at a scale of just over two inches to the mile. There are five insets all concerned with the Roman Wall and its attendant works and the course of the proposed road is shown as a dotted line co-incidental with the Wall from Newcastle to a point nearly thirty miles west. The surveyors estimated the cost of the road as £22,450.
I've been trying out some new software from my local archaeology group that makes 3D models from a set of digital photos.
Below is my trial of the west end of Heddon's preserved section of Hadrian's Wall.
It is for those who are not able to visit it (or sit on it, as I do from time to time). Click the big arrow to load the model, use the controls to alter rendering and the computer mouse to rotate (left-button and drag), pan (right button and drag) and zoom (wheel or ctrl-drag). For the truely immersive experience switch on full-screen mode!
It's just like being there yourself.
Shown here is a short section of Hadrian’s Wall at the west end of a length of preserved Wall about 255m long, consolidated and in the care of English Heritage, just east of Heddon on the Wall village. This represents a part of the planned ‘broad wall’; further west the structure was reduced in thickness to save time and resources.
The broad wall at Heddon is between 2.8m and 3m wide and up to 1.7m (7 courses) high. The rubble core was originally set in puddled clay, but was reset in mortar to preserve the section when it was consolidated. The first 12m at the west end has only the outer face exposed.
At the west end (NZ 13622 66942) a circular kiln was built into the wall in medieval times, probably to dry corn. It measures 1.9 m in diameter, has a paved floor, and the surrounding wall has a maximum height of 0.7 m (3 courses). The flue is in the south-west arc and is 1.4 m wide.
For those missing a visit to St Andrew's Churchyard, please see the 3D model below.
A flat-topped, table- or chest-tomb from the late eighteenth century, located in the graveyard close to the west end of St Andrew’s Church, Heddon on the Wall, UK. There are inscriptions on the top and on the two end slabs and on the south-facing side of a long slab concealed beneath, but these are not well resolved in the 3D model and largely captured by the texture.
The inscriptions are transcribed on this site under number  where there are also some standard, 2D photos.
If you are more interested in prehistoric rock art, there is another model here.
Hadrian's Wall shows signs that it was planned in straight lines, at least in the relatively flat sections at its west and east ends. This is very similar to Roman roads that take long straight line routes across country often regardless of the intervening topography.
The 200m conserved section of Hadrian's Wall at Heddon on the Wall shows a prominent bend in the broad wall situated just west of the Great Hill on the east side of the village. What does this tell us? According to a book published in 2010, quite a lot.
The Tales of the Frontier Project now has a new website at www.talesofthefrontier.org
Leaflets and booklets can be found in the ‘Stories’ section at http://www.talesofthefrontier.org/wall-stories-leaflets-and-booklet.html
Research for the Tales of the Frontier website was carried out by the Archaeology Department at Durham University to study the many ways in which visitors, locals and scholars view Hadrian's Wall; to explore how it has influenced the landscapes and communities through which it passes; and to understand how the Wall came to be the prominent World Heritage site that it is today.
- Where are we?
- History Map
- Hadrian's Wall >
1 Heddon township
- Heddon in the Middle Ages
- Common Land
- Middle Marches
- Tithe Award
- St Andrew's Church >
- Village property
- Heddon Hall >
- Heddon Banks Farm
- Frenchman's Row
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- Men's Institute
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- Welfare Field
- Knott Memorial Hall
- Memorial Park
- River Tyne
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- Occupations from 1800
- 2 West Heddon township
- 3 East Heddon township
- 4 Houghton & Close House township >
- 5 Eachwick township
- 6 Whitchester township
- 1 Heddon township >
- Old Photos
- Letter from the Emigrant Clergy of Frenchman's Row (1802)
- Alleged Brutal Murder at Heddon-on-the-Wall (1876)
- Sad boat accident at Ryton (1877)
- Coronation tree (1902)
- 65 Years on a Ferry Boat (1929)
- Come claim your kiss at Heddon (1953)
- The Swan (1972)
- Heddon WI (1987)
- Church House (1966)
- Happy return (1993)
- Hexham Courant (1997)
- Foot & Mouth (2001)
- Remembrance Day (1996)
- Remembrance Day (2016)
- RAF at Ouston (2007)
- Close House Golf Course (2009)
- Heddon pupils celebrate British heritage (2011)
- Roman Wall Forge (2011)
- Diamond Jubilee (2012)
- Auction of Bronze Statue, Close House (2012)
- Heddon WI (2012)
- Puffing Billy Festival (2013)
- Heddon Village Show (2014)
- View of the North (2014)
- The Wall at Heddon (2014)
- Heddon Village Show (2015)
- War veterans singing send-off (September 2015)
- Anglo-Saxon history (2014)
- Heddon WI at 100 (2017)
- Hadrian's Wall discovery (2019)
- Mike Furlonger
- Mackenzie (1825)
- Bates (1886) >
- History, Topography & Directory of Northumberland (Bulmer's) - 1886
- History of Northumberland (1930)
- Collingwood Bruce (1853)
- Whellan (1855)
- Post Office Directory (1879)
- Prominent people in Heddon
- Place names
- Ad Murum
- Archived documents
- Thomas Bewick's History of British Birds (1826)
- Census data 1801-1991
- Historical Records 1888-1890
- Knott Sale of Village Property (1924)
- Extracts from Parish Council Records
- Local colliery records
- Clark (c.1963)
- History of Church (1968)
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