Saturday, February 04, 2012

Wall Mile 35

The curtain wall, beneath the by-now-familiar field wall, descends into Busy Gap and is breached by a modern gateway called the King's Wicket which seems to have a history. Busy Gap was a traditional route through the wall in the medieval and post-medieval period, ne'er-do-wells who used it for their nefarious activities earning the nickname Busy Gap Rogues (a term of abuse that remained in use into the 19th century). It has an even older significance, however, as an earthwork dyke that may date as far back as the Bronze Age runs through the gap and on towards what is now Scotland. Once again, the Roman Wall merrily slices across a traditional landscape. The angle between the wall and the dyke is adapted into a triangular enclosure by the earthwork known as Black Dyke, here thought to be used as a post-medieval stock enclosure associated with the passage through the wall. The Wall ditch reappears across Busy Gap, recognising its tactical vulnerability but terminates again once it begins to ascend Sewingshields Crags.

We follow the wall up, passing the site of Turret 35b and, once we achieve the summit, can pause to look back to the west, where we can see Broomlee Lough, Greenlee Lough beyond it, and Housesteads Crags, with Crag Lough and Peel Crags in the distance. At the top, a short length of curtain wall emerges from underneath its guardian field wall, just to remind you of its existence

Before long we stumble unexpectedly on Turret 35a (Sewingshields). Constructed on a broad gauge foundation but with a narrow gauge curtain wall, this turret, with its entrance at the eastern end of the south wall, was only briefly occupied before being demolished and its recess filled in.

The next stretch of curtain wall we find has a rather nicely consolidated expansion near its eastern end, confirming that these were not just a product of the imagination of Clayton's workman but were a genuine feature of the south face of the curtain wall, along the Central Sector at least.

More at Wall Mile 35