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Historic England Research Records

Rudchester Roman Fort

Hob Uid: 22801
Location :
Northumberland
Heddon-on-the-Wall
Grid Ref : NZ1127067550
Summary : The earthwork remains of Rudchester (VINDOBALA) Roman fort straddling Hadrian's Wall consisting of a turf covered platform, up to 1.6 metres high and covering an area of 1.8 hectares. It survived well until the 18th century when stone-robbing and ploughing have since reduced it. The best preserved scarps of the fort rampart are to the south of the Military Road where the fort platform is up to 1.4 metres high. In the south-east corner a slight hollow probably marks the position of the robbed-out corner tower. There are breaks in the scarps where the south and minor west gates have been excavated. The spina of the main west gate is in situ but turf-covered. The north part of the fort, which is under the plough, is defined only by a broad shallow scarp but the platform is nevertheless up to 1.6 metres high. The fort ditch survives as an earthwork only on the west side, 0.7 metres deep. However it was visible on air photographs taken in the 1930s on the north and south sides too. To the north of the Military Road the interior of the fort is devoid of features. To the south it is dominated by slight but distinct ridge-and-furrow cultivation. Other visible features are mainly the result of stone-robbing and excavations. Geophysical surveys within the fort were undertaken in 1987, revealing the fort wall on either side of the north-west corner, confused remains of buildings in the north-west quarter and more coherent traces of buildings, aligned east/west, in the south-east corner.
More information : NZ 1127 6755. Vindovala Roman Fort (G.S.C.) (1)

Vindovala survives as little more than a reduced platform with the ditch discernible on the west side only. It is under pasture and the southern half is obscured by rig and furrow ploughing.
Published survey (25") revised. (2)

Rudchester, the Roman Vindobala, is a fort on Hadrian's Wall 6 3/4 miles from Benwell. The fort guards the valley of the March Burn to the west, while to the east the ground drops away to the Rudchester Burn. It measured 515 by 385 ft. over its rampart, enclosing approximately 4.5 acres. Excavations in 1924 examined the gates and principal buildings. Four gates were of the normal double portal type and two were single portals. Inside the fort, the principia with its underground strongroom, a granary and a hypocaust in the praetorium were uncovered. In 1972 an area was excavated partly on and partly south of the via quintana, in the S.E. of the fort. It yielded the northern end of a stone barrack block of Hadrianic date, which had been burnt down, to be replaced in the late second or early third century by another barrack of similar design. This had eventually fallen into ruin and had never been rebuilt. In the late fourth century a final period of occupation occurred, attested by Crambeck and Huntcliffe pottery and a stone sill-beam with socket-holes for wooden uprights cut into its upper surface. Pre-Hadrianic plough marks were noticed in the clay sub-soil beneath the fort. Immediately above the clay sub-soil was a layer of dark earth rich in humus identified as the plough-soil. Although the surface of the subsoil was virtually flat, the upper surface of the plough-soil formed a series of undulations, similar to medieval rig and furrow. (3-6)

The fort was surveyed by RCHME at 1:1000 in 1990.
The best preserved scarps of the fort rampart are to the S of the Military Road where the fort platform is up to 1.4m high. In the SE corner a slight hollow probably marks the position of the robbed-out corner tower. There are breaks in the scarps where the S and minor W gates have been excavated. The spina of the main W gate is in situ but turf-covered. The N part of the fort, which is under the plough, is defined only by a broad shallow scarp but the platform is nevertheless up to 1.6m high. The fort ditch is visible only on the W side where it survives as an earthwork, 0.7m deep, for a short distance. To the N of the Military Road the interior of the fort is devoid of features. To the S it is dominated by slight but distinct ridge-and-furrow cultivation. Other visible features are mainly the result of stone-robbing and excavations. Geophysical surveys within the fort were undertaken in 1987, revealing the fort wall on either side of the NW corner, confused remains of buildings in the NW quarter and more coherent traces of buildings, aligned E-W, in the SE corner (7a and b). Full RCHME survey information, including a detailed report, is available in the NMR Archive. (7)

A plan and brief description was published in 1991. (8)

Scheduled (9)

The fort was visible as earthworks on air photographs in 1930. The fort platform and ditch was visible on three sides, the N, W and S. Medieval ridge and furrow (See NZ16NW 124) and post medieval ridge and furrow (see NZ16NW 126) lie within the fort and the latter overlies and has slighted the northern ditch. (10)

There are several depictions in the James Irwin Coates Archive (1877-1896). (11)

Located on the English Heritage map of Hadrian's Wall 2010. (12)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : 1:2500 1961
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Source Number : 2
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 RWE 03-MAR-1966
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Source Number : 9
Source : Scheduled Monument Notification
Source details : 14-Jul-97
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Source Number : 10
Source : Vertical aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF/26/AC 5 22-OCT-1930
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Source Number : 11
Source : Hadrian's Wall: archaeological research by English Heritage 1976-2000
Source details :
Page(s) : 14-15
Figs. : 27-29
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 12
Source : An Archaeological Map of Hadrian's Wall, 1:25,000 scale
Source details :
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Source : Hadrian's Wall/notebook
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Source : Rudchester
Source details :
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Source : Rudchester, figure 3/publication drawing
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Source : Rudchester/pencil survey
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Source : Rudchester - Vindovala - fort/ink survey
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Source : Rudchester, figure 1/publication drawing
Source details :
Page(s) :
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Plates :
Vol(s) : Fifth Series, Volume XIX
Source Number : 3
Source : Archaeologia Aeliana : or miscellaneous tracts relating to antiquity
Source details : (Brewis, P)
Page(s) : 93-120
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1, 1924
Source Number : 4
Source : Archaeologia Aeliana : or miscellaneous tracts relating to antiquity
Source details : (Gillam, J)
Page(s) : 81-5
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Vol(s) : 1, 1972
Source Number : 5
Source : Handbook to the Roman Wall with the Cumbrian coast and outpost forts
Source details :
Page(s) : 76-81
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Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : The place-names of Roman Britain
Source details :
Page(s) : 500
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Source Number : 7
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : Mark Bowden and Keith Blood/18-OCT-1990/RCHME: Rudchester Survey.
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Source Number : 7a
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Gibson, J 1988 A Geophysical Investigation of the Roman Fort and Vallum at Rudchester (Vindovala). Unpublished MSc dissertation, Durham University.
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Source Number : 7b
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Moore, J 1988 Resistivity and S-Wave Seismic Refraction Surveys at Hadrians Wall, Rudchester, Northumberland. Unpublished MSc dissertation, Durham University.
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Source Number : 8
Source : The Roman fort at Rudchester : an analytical field survey
Source details :
Page(s) : 25-31
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 19

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date :
Monument End Date : 399
Monument Start Date : 126
Monument Type : Fort
Evidence : Earthwork

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (County No.)
External Cross Reference Number : ND 28
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Hadrian's Wall Project Number
External Cross Reference Number : NZ 1167/3
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Northumberland)
External Cross Reference Number : 10856
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Scheduled Monument Legacy (National No.)
External Cross Reference Number : 26039
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : NZ 16 NW 11
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 22792
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1009054
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1012724
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1440251
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1440260
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1012723
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 1012722
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, RUDCHESTER (VINDOBALA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1800-01-01
End Date : 1899-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RUDCHESTER (VINDOBALA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1897-01-01
End Date : 1897-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RUDCHESTER (VINDOBALA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1901-01-01
End Date : 1901-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RUDCHESTER (VINDOBALA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1924-01-01
End Date : 1924-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON NZ 16 NW 11
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1966-03-03
End Date : 1966-03-03
Associated Activities : Primary, RUDCHESTER (VINDOBALA)
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1972-01-01
End Date : 1972-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RUDCHESTER BURN
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1975-01-01
End Date : 1975-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RUDCHESTER
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1987-01-01
End Date : 1992-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RUDCHESTER
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1987-01-01
End Date : 1987-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: HADRIAN'S WALL PROJECT
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1988-01-01
End Date : 1993-08-01
Associated Activities : Primary, RCHME: RUDCHESTER SURVEY
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1990-10-04
End Date : 1990-10-18
Associated Activities : Primary, RUDCHESTER (VINDOBALA)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1991-01-01
End Date : 1991-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RUDCHESTER (VINDOBALA)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1993-01-01
End Date : 1993-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RUDCHESTER FARM
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RUDCHESTER (VINDOBALA)
Activity type : DESK BASED ASSESSMENT
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RUDCHESTER FARM
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RUDCHESTER (VINDOBALA)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 1999-01-01
End Date : 1999-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RUDCHESTER FARM
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2000-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RUDCHESTER (VINDOBALA)
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2001-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, QUARRY HOUSE, RUDCHESTER
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2001-01-01
End Date : 2001-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: HADRIAN'S WALL WHS MAPPING PROJECT, NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2002-01-01
End Date : 2008-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT RUDCHESTER MANOR
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2008-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, RUDCHESTER FARM
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, QUARRY HOUSE, RUDCHESTER
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2013-01-01
End Date : 2013-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, QUARRY HOUSE, RUDCHESTER
Activity type : DESK BASED ASSESSMENT
Start Date : 2013-01-01
End Date : 2014-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, OHL RENEWAL, RUDCHESTER
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2016-01-01
End Date : 2016-12-31