Barcombe Signal Station
The Barcombe Hill Roman signal station lies just south of the Stanegate on the northern edge of Barcombe Hill within the north-western corner of an earlier ovoid multivallate defended encampment. This Iron-Age camp measures about 310 feet from north-east to south-west by about 138 feet transversely (c. 95 x 42 m) and encloses an area just under one acre (c. 0.4 ha); its northern defences have been damaged by stone quarrying, probably during construction of Hadrian’s Wall, also at sometime during the Medieval period.
The site was excavated in 1939 and again in the 1950’s, during which the defenses of the Roman signal station were uncovered, these were found to be of turf-and-timber construction set upon a base of limestone flags which cut into the defenses of the Iron-Age camp. The station is roughly rectangular in outline with rounded corners, measuring around 56 feet east-west by about 43 feet north-south (c. 17 x 13 m). These defences are delineated by a rampart 13¾ feet (4.2 m) in width which survives to a height of about 2¾ feet (0.8 m), fronted by a single ditch some 10 feet (3 m) in width. A central platform within the enclosure is thought to have supported a timber-built watch-tower or signal-station. A quantity of first-century ‘Flavian’ pottery was found during excavations, also an oven built into the north-eastern rampart.
Other Roman Sites in the Area
Birkshaw/Barcombe ‘B’ – Possible Signal Station
Another possible Roman Signal Station were discovered in 1988 about ¾-mile (1.2 km) to the south-west of the Barcombe Hill station at Birkshaw, just south-east of the fort at Chesterholm. The site was excavated by Manchester University Archaeology Department in 1989 who uncovered stone foundations, 3¼ feet (0.96 m) in width, marking the eastern corner of a square tower similar in construction to Turret 45a on Hadrian’s Wall. The remains of a small plinth, thought to be a ‘ladder platform’, was uncovered inside the corner-angle and a fragment of a late-1st/early-2nd century AD glass bottle was recovered from within the structure, along with several fragments of Roman roofing tile.
The Thorngrafton Coin Hoard
A bronze ‘under-arm’ purse containing 63 Roman coins was discovered on 8th August 1837 by workmen quarrying for stone near the ‘Langstone’ at Thorngrafton. The coins (3 gold and 60 silver) ranged in date from Claudius to Hadrian and were thought to have been deposited by a worker at the quarry sometime during the Hadrianic period. The purse is now on display in the Museum at Chesters but the coins constituting the Thorngrafton Hoard have since been ‘lost’.