Haltwhistle Burn

Fort and Marching or Temporary Camps

The Small Fort at Haltwhistle Burn

OS National Grid Reference: NY 7145 6615
Dimensions: 210 x 170 feet c. 64 x 52 m
Area: 0.8 acres c. 0.3 ha

The small fort at Haltwhistle Burn, and another on the Stanegate at Throp, represent the first examples in Britain of a new element in the Roman military, the small fort or fortlet. These camps were designed to house only part of a normal unit, and the only difference between a small fort and a fortlet being that no provision was allowed in a fortlet for administrative buildings, these establishments being contained within the small fort. Excavations conducted within the defenses in 1908 revealed structures at the centre of the camp which have been identified as a small principia or regimental H.Q. building, which means that Haltwhistle should be termed a 'small fort'.

The fort was protected by a stone-faced rampart backed by an earthen bank and fronted by two v-shaped ditches which remain in an excellent state of preservation. These defenses enclose an area measuring about 210 feet from east to west by 170 feet transversely (c. 64 x 52 m), thereby enclosing an area of just over 0.8 acres (c. 0.3 ha). The Stanegate road approaches from the east and makes an abrupt turn to the south, skirting past the fort's south-east corner to cross the Haltwhistle Burn just to the south before resuming its eastward trajectory. The western defenses of the fort has been damaged by the eroding effects of the Burn and also by quarrying operations during the early-19th century.

Roman Temporary Marching Camps in the Haltwhistle Area

Haltwhistle Burn 1, Northumberland

276 x 482 ft (84 x 147 m)
2½ acres (1 ha)
This rectangular camp lies only 50m N of the NE corner of the Trajanic fortlet, and is aligned to the E, as evidenced by its surviving gates, set centrally in the short W side and another in the S side, offset to the E some 50m frrom the SE corner angle; any corresponding gateways in the N & E sides have been erased by a modern road which cuts across the NE corner of the camp.

Haltwhistle Burn 2, Northumberland

308 x 308 ft (94 x 94 m)
c. 1¾ acres (0.7 ha)
This square camp lies only 30m from the NE corner of Camp-1. There are at least 3 gates protected by external tituli, placed centrally in the N, S & E sides, but all traces of any W gateway have been lost by natural erosion and the building of the S defences of Camp-3, which utilized the N defences of this camp and portions of the E & W rampart.

Haltwhistle Burn 3, Northumberland

131 x 308 ft (40 x 94 m)
c. ¾ acre (0.3 ha)
This camp was formed by contracting the S rampart of the original Camp-2 and building another rampart just N of the original camp's E & W gateways. The area thus enclosed was somewhat less than half of the original. A new S gateway was also built, protected by an external titulum, though it seems probable that no new gateways were provided through the reduced E & W sides.

Haltwhistle Burn 4, Northumberland

52 x 62 ft (16 x 19 m)
< ¼ acre (0.1 ha)
This very small camp lies some 100m N of the NW corner-angle of Camp-1, and is roughly rectangular in shape with gateways set in the middle of its shorter E & W sides. Its unfavourable location make it probable that this camp post-dates Hadrian's Wall, which lay only a few yards to the N.

In addition to the four camps north of the Haltwhistle fort itself, which are detailed above, there are many other Roman temporary marching camps in the area; there are two on the west side of the Caw Burn at Markham Cottage, another on the south side of the Stanegate to the south-east at Milestone House, and others on the 'Barbarian' side of Hadrian's Wall to the north at Cawfields and to the north-west at Burnhead and Chesters Pike.

Map References for Haltwhistle Burn

NGRef: NY715662 OSMap: LR86/87

Roman Roads near Haltwhistle Burn

Probable Trackway: N (0.25) to Cawfields (Northumberland) Stanegate: E (3.5) to Vindolanda (Chesterholm, Northumberland) Stanegate: W (3.5) to Magnis Carvetiorvm (Carvoran, Northumberland) Stanegate: E (1) to Seatsides Stanegate: W (1.25) to Svnny Rigg