Purpose and objectives
The purpose of the RCHME Hadrian's Wall Project was to revise the
Ordnance Survey Linear File which had been compiled in the mid-1960s
and in some cases even earlier with only minor revisions in the
1970s. A considerable amount of archaeological research had been
undertaken in the intervening period. Revision was felt to be a
matter of some urgency as the Roman Military Zone was to be
designated a World Heritage Site and the National Trail had been
proposed by the Countryside Commission. In addition, several bodies
with responsibility for parts of the monument (e.g. English Heritage,
the National Trust, Northumberland National Park) required accurate,
current, detailed mapping of the archaeology for management purposes.
The complex archaeological history of the Wall adds to the inherent
problems of recording a landscape which consists of a bundle of four
individual linears (Ditch, Wall, Military Way, Vallum) studded with
hundreds of separate individual sites. Hadrian's Wall is unique in
this respect and it was this factor which suggested that the whole
corridor should be the subject of a dedicated database. Eventually,
however, with the development of MONARCH, the Hadrian's Wall database
was abandoned and the records recast to MONARCH format.
The Project took in every map sheet in Cumbria and Northumberland on
which any element of the Hadrian's Wall complex falls. Tyne and Wear
east of easting NZ 2000 was excluded from the field Project.
Nevertheless, some desk-based research into the extreme east end of
the Wall was undertaken.
The Project was undertaken as a map-based ground survey exercise.
Paper copies of the 1:2500 maps (1:1250 in the urban area of Carlisle
and the western suburbs of Newcastle) with plastic overlays, were
taken into the field on specially prepared portable drawing boards;
revisions, additions and deletions were drawn onto the overlays. All
archaeological detail was then inked onto these overlays in the
office. Field officers worked from existing map detail using
graphical survey techniques and it was very rarely necessary for
instrumental survey to be undertaken.
The fieldwork was mainly undertaken between January 1988 and
September 1990. In May 1991 Geophysical Surveys of Bradford were
commissioned to undertake a series of transects across the supposed
line of the Wall and Vallum in the western sector in an attempt to
establish the courses of these features more securely; some success
Sphere of interest
Sites of pre- and post-Roman periods were included in the Project
only when they impinged upon the Roman archaeology. Roman sites away
from the Wall, e.g. Stanegate, were only recorded where they fell in
the same kilometre square as an element of the Hadrian's Wall Linear.
Because the map overlays were regarded as the primary product of the
Project, with the textual information providing an extended caption
to the drawings, information readily available from the overlays
(such as NGRs) was not recorded initially.
The revised linear file consists of 1:2500 and 1:1250 base maps with
film overlays on which the archaeological detail is plotted. There
was a separate text record of annotations on Dbase, backed up by a
select bibliography and list of authorities; this is now being
replaced by entries in the MONARCH database. The level of
information contained in the new records is not necessarily any
higher than that contained in the old Ordnance Survey Linear File;
this is equivalent to RCHME Level 1 or 2.
The 1:2500 maps are in standard double plan format (except in rare
cases where single sheets are available) but the kilometre square was
the basic unit of record for the Project. The film overlays depict
all archaeological detail (except as noted above). A set of Project
drawing conventions was developed to reflect, as well as possible,
varying levels of certainty about the accurate location of sites and
sectors of the linears. Individual sites and discrete sectors of the
linear elements were given unique numbers referring to the text
record on Dbase in place of the labels applied to the OS Linear File
maps. Each km square had its own number sequence. Arrows were
applied to denote the limits of particular sectors of the linear
elements and the location of centurial stones, offsets, etc.
Marginal numbers, falling within the main number sequence, referred
to sites which cannot be accurately located. A site falling on two
adjoining squares was numbered in the square in which the greater
part of it lies and, if necessary, a note of its number was given in
the margin of the adjoining sheet. Sectors of the linear elements,
however, were artificially ended at kilometre square edges. As
stated above, the individual site records have now been converted to
MONARCH records but the original Project numbers have been retained
as Other Monument Identifiers.
The text record on Dbase file consisted of the same information given
on the labels of the OS Linear File maps, laid out in fourteen
1 Km. Sq.
2 Site No.
3 NAR No. (if any)
4 Site classification
5 Wall Mile No. (for Turrets and Milecastles only)
6 Site name (if any)
11 Extra text (in Memo File)
12-14 Land classification
The text was kept as short as possible by the use of abbreviations
and codes. The select bibliography was referenced by the Harvard
system. Only major references were included, as in the OS Linear
File. All this information has been transferred to MONARCH and the
Dbase File has been discontinued.
Within each kilometre square records were added, as far as possible,
in the following sequence:
Offsets, centurial stones (in situ), etc.
Ditch and glacis
Others, Roman and pre-Roman
Because of its form Hadrian's Wall is subject to a number of
hypotheses developed by 'Wall-scholars' over the years. Some of
these hypotheses have appeared to work so well that they have come to
be as firmly believed as established facts. A prime example of this
is the idea that along the Wall itself there is a milecastle every
Roman mile with turrets in between at 1/3 mile intervals; early
discoveries suggested that the Wall's builders had adhered to this
scheme rigidly, and so a 'Schedule' of deduced sites of milecastles
and turrets was established. These deduced sites, even where there
was no evidence to substantiate them, were included in the OS Record
and are therefore in the NMR. These alleged sites are clearly stated
to exist as 'measured sites only' in the MONARCH record.
In addition, a large number of minimal excavations undertaken along
the line of the Wall over the past hundred years or more have no
adequate records as to the precise location and/or nature of the
evidence found. In these cases the descriptive text clearly flags
the inadequacy of the information.
The Wall complex is partly entered to MONARCH.