In this month's Ouseburn heritage research blog, we share an insight from volunteer George. Along with a group of other Ouseburn Trust volunteers and members, George explores the history of Hadrian's Wall in Ouseburn. Learn a little bit about what they've been involved with so far. 

August 2020

Hi, my name is George and I am one of a number of volunteers researching Hadrian’s Wall in the Ouseburn area.

While the route of the wall is well understood in urban Newcastle at a few places, such as along Shields Road and Westgate Road (marked in red in the image below), there is a roughly 700-meter gap in archaeological data between the Greggs bakery at the west end of Shields Road (marked with a red right dot below) to St. Dominic’s Church. (marked with a red left dot below). The proposed line of the wall agreed upon by archaeologists across this gap runs in a straight line (yellow line below) between these two points just south of Byker Bridge and right through the heart of the Ouseburn Conservation area. Within this area there is at least one major feature of the Wall that remains undiscovered; Milecastle 3 (Shaded Area), which has been traced to near The Cumberland Arms. 

Map with markings which indicate the suspected Hadrian 

The route of Hadrian’s Wall across the heart of the Ouseburn Valley  

With the Ouseburn Trust, we have been undertaking research of a variety of topics to better understand the current state of the Wall. Part of our research has focused on studying scholarship on this section of wall, which runs back to the 17th century. Looking at both these old texts and as much recent archaeological evidence as we can get our hands on, we are putting together a more clear picture of the facts on (or in) the ground about the Wall. Going forward we are planning on carrying out some original research of our own to hopefully find any reused facing stones in the valley and produce a detailed understanding of the change of the topography of the valley in the last 2000 years to better predict where remains of the Wall would survive.  

Engraving from William Stukeley’s Itinerarium Curiosum Engraving from William Stukeley’s Itinerarium Curiosum 2nd Ed. (1776), a copy of original 1725 engraving. Milecastle 3 is located at A in the centre of the image. 

 A section of map from John Horsley’s Britannia Romana (1732) in which he traces the route of Hadrians Wall.A section of map from John Horsley’s Britannia Romana (1732) in which he traces the route of the Hadrian's Wall. The Ewsburn [sic] runs right to left in the middle of the image. 

Our group has also been engaging with local professionals to build strong connections and increase our skills. In February we visited the council archaeological offices to be shown their archaeological records and have a look at what archaeological resources they had from previous excavations. In February we attended the Hadrian’s Wall Networking Day in Carlisle run by Newcastle University’s Hadrians Wall Community Archaeology Project (WallCAP) to present our research to others and talk to various professionals and decision-makers who manage the Wall’s partnership board.  

Photo of Sue Bright Trustee of the Ouseburn TrustTrustee and Researcher Sue Bright presenting about the Trust. 

When lockdown finally ends we hope to be back in the field undertaking some more detailed analyses of stone structures in the valley and expanding our knowledge through more engagement with WallCAP.