Poltross Burn Milecastle - Hadrian's Wall

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Poltross Burn Milecastle


Poltross burn milecastle.jpg
Poltross Burn Milecastle (Milecastle 48)
Type: Roman milecastle
Grid reference: NY63416620
Location: 54°59’20"N, 2°34’24"W
Material: Stone
Owned by: English Heritage
Website: Poltross Burn Milecastle Hadrian's Wall

Poltross Burn Milecastle, otherwise called Milecastle 48, is a milecastle on Hadrian's Wall. It is to be found in Cumberland, just outside the village of Gilsland (and immediately adjacent to the Tyne Valley Line]].

The Milecastle has been known locally as "The King's Stables"[1] for over 100 years but recently the heritage industry has begun to call it Poltross Burn Milecastle. The monument is currently in the care of English Heritage.


Remains of a flight of stairs

The milecastle measures 61 feet east to west by 70 feet north to south, substantially larger than many other milecastles.[2] Two rows of buildings are visible within, probably barracks, one either side of the north-south road running through the gateways. Interior buildings are not normally so well-preserved or substantial in other milecastles[2] and local people, "mining" the milecastle for building stone in the past, may have recognised the layout as similar to stable-blocks. The walls are 'broad gauge', including stub 'wing walls' which connect with the Narrow Wall curtain of Hadrian's Wall on either side. It has 'Type III' gateways. Milecastle 47 is and lies 1,663 yards to the east and Milecastle 49, the Harrows Scar Milecastle is 1,594 yards west.

A notable feature of this milecastle is the survival of a substantial part of the flight of stairs giving access to the ramparts of Hadrian's Wall in the north-east corner, allowing a wall-walk height of 12 feet to be projected and suggesting a height for the curtain wall (including parapet) of around 15 feet.


The Milecastle was excavated in 1886 by R. S. Ferguson; between 1909 and 1911 by J. P. Gibson and F. G. Simpson; and between 1965 and 1966 by D. Charlesworth.[3]

The excavations uncovered a range of features including the gateways of the milecastle.[3] The lower courses of the flight of steps were found in the north east corner, and an oven was found in the north west angle.[3] Flanking the central space of the milecastle stood long barrack blocks, which are believed to have had more than one phase of construction.[3]

Associated Turrets

Turret 48A
Turret 48B

Each milecastle on Hadrian's Wall had two associated turret structures. These turrets were positioned approximately one-third and two-thirds of a Roman mile to the west of the Milecastle, and would probably have been manned by part of the milecastle's garrison. The turrets associated with Milecastle 48 are known as Turret 48A and Turret 48B.

Turret 48A

Turret 48A (Willowford East) (NY62966630) is situated on a river terrace on the south bank of the River Irthing. It was excavated in 1923.[4] It measures approximately 13 feet across.[4] The north wall has a maximum height of 4 feet, the east wall 7 courses, west wall 5 courses and the south wall 6 courses high.[4] The doorway was situated in the south-west wall, and several hearths and evidence of bronze and iron working were found in the interior.[4] The site was cleared and partially rebuilt in 1951/2, and the remains are visible as consolidated masonry.[4]

Turret 48B

Turret 48B (Willowford West) (NY62526650) is situated on the south bank of the River Irthing immediately east of Willowford Farm. The turret was excavated in 1923.[5] The remains are visible as consolidated masonry.[5]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Milecastle 48)


  1. Gibson, J.P. & Simpson, F.G. 1911. "The Milecastle on the Wall of Hadrian at the Poltross Burn"; Trans. CWAAS XI (New Series) Art XXIII pp390–461
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bird, W.G. 1913. Gilsland and Neighbourhood; Gregg, Gilsland
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 National Monuments Record: No. 13969 – Milecastle 48
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 National Monuments Record: No. 13972 – Turret 48A
  5. 5.0 5.1 National Monuments Record: No. 13977 – Turret 48B