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3

Romans in Cumbria

MILECASTLES AND TURRETS

Every Roman mile (about 1650 yards or just under 1500 metres) along Hadrian's Wall there was a milecastle, a small fortlet about 50 feet square, with access at ground level and up stone steps to the walkway along the top of the Wall. In some cases ground level access was from both the inside (south) of the Wall and from the outside (north), so that the traffic could flow across the Wall. The Wall itself was not a permanently closed frontier barrier, and certainly not intended to deter peaceful trade and intercourse between people living on either side of it.

These milecastles could house patrol troops keeping watch on the Wall or used to foray into hostile territory beyond it. Between each pair of milecastles were two turrets, basically look-out posts or points at which patrols could change over.

The milecastles and turrets were part of the original Wall construction: excavation has proved that the forts were built a little later.

This pattern of forts, milecastles and turrets continued beyond the line of the Wall, down the Cumbrian coast as far as the village of Ravenglass, even though the Wall itself ended at Bowness-on- Solway.

 

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