Hadrian’s Wall at West Road, Newcastle upon Tyne

Archaeologist investigating a section of Hadrian’s Wall exposed in a trench for a new main water pipe on West Road © ARS Ltd 2023
Easternmost section showing the southern face of Hadrian’s Wall exposed at the junction with Newminster Road. Scale = 0.5m graduations © ARS Ltd 2023
Westernmost section showing the northern face of Hadrian’s Wall exposed near the Two Ball Lonnen Roundabout beneath a metal water pipe. Scale = 0.5m gradations © ARS Ltd 2023

In Spring 2021 Archaeological Research Services Ltd monitored and recorded two test pits and two trenches while they were being dug for a new main water pipe along West Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, to supply the surrounding housing between Fenham Reservoir and Two Ball Lonnen Roundabout on behalf of Northumbrian Water. The route of West Road is known to follow the line of Hadrian’s Wall. The works identified and recorded part of the southern face of a sandstone wall c.4.5m in length and a much smaller length of the northern face of the wall further to the west, both of which are previously undocumented sections of Hadrian’s Wall. The site of the archaeological works is located along the line of the Wall between the fort at Benwell (Condercum) and Turret 6b.

The trenches ran for a combined length of c.250m and to a depth of between 1.2m and 1.6m. The longer of the two sections of wall was constructed using large rectangular and square dressed sandstone blocks, with the inclusion of a single large granite rectangular block which had probably been used as a repair. The stonework was bonded together with light compacted clay mixed with small, chipped sandstone fragments. Sandstone blocks were used for the facing stones of the southern face of the bottom course of the Wall which overlay thinner, less-regularly-sized pieces of sandstone representing the foundations underneath it which were similarly bonded with the light compact clay. The westernmost section of wall was constructed using faced, rectangular sandstone blocks. The rubble core consisted of small to medium-sized fragments of sandstone bedded within orange/grey sandy clay.

The recording of this previously undocumented section of the Wall on West Road adds considerably to what is already known about the location and nature of the eastern section of the Wall. The predominant size of the stones which formed the bottom course of the Wall can be described as ‘quite large’, which is below the median line for sizes of stones used to construct the Wall. The size of these stones, when compared with the measurements of stones along the Wall, is smaller than those west of Turret 7b (Denton, east of turret) and compares most favourably with the sections of the Wall between Milecastle 11b (Heddon-on-the-Wall) to Turret 29a (Blackcarts). Based on the metrical study of the stones and the nature of the rubble core, the section of the Wall exposed at West Road supports the argument that the section of the Wall east of Milecastle 7 was built by a different legion from the section to the west.

A report on the results of the excavations will be published in Archaeologia Aeliana early next year.

To find out about the features and finds discovered at the site please use the ‘Links and Downloads’ page to access the project report.


West Road site location figure © ARS Ltd 2023
Archaeological Research Services Ltd