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It seems that the so-called "vallum" on Hadrian's Wall was really (ahem) the construction trench for a road: as reported here. Confusedhock:

Has this man never seen a Roman military road? :roll:
Hmmm, I thought there was a road as well? :?
Interesting theory...I wonder how he can explain a six foot ditch through bed rock as the foundation for a road. This is what we found in West Denton and I know how deep it was because I was the measuring guide!

And there was a road as well Byron. Our bit was in the lee of the wall between the turrets.
Quote:"the two parallel lines of spoil heaps – still in evidence today – set back on either side to allow room for the lanes used by riders and pedestrians"
:?: Lanes for pedestrians? Are there Roman roads elsewhere with 'lanes for pedestrians'? I expected them to walk either on the road or directly besides it. And when a legion marched over it, all traffic moved aside, right?
Quote:"This is the only rational engineering explanation."
I'm no engineer, but even I doubt that claim.
What a load of Tosh. The Hexham Courant seem to print anything this bloke says without checking it through at all. Here's the article where he claims the wall was initially built of wood.
http://structuralarchaeology.blogspot.c ... -wall.html

The Vallum's purpose is very hard to define. Many theories have been put forward for its use including a demarcation line aiding control of traffic though the wall’s zone of control, a replacement for the wall during the wall’s construction, an extra barrier to enemy troops that had crossed the wall, or even a southwards facing defence system. Of all theories, it is clear that it was not a defensive structure. It is missing from many sections of wall and its placement is, in many cases, not on ground that could be construed as defensive (i.e. just below the summit of a hill, rather than above it). One favourite I like is that is served to define an area where animals belonging to the army could graze without casual interference from any locals.

There were metalled tracks along the Vallum, for the most part they appear on the south mound, although in two locations there are tracks on the North mound, and in many places there are none. Prior to the construction of the military way these may have been used for transportation, but let's not forget that the vallum was originally constructed with parts of the ditch filled in, and gaps in the vallum to provide crossing points to and from the Wall forts. If the vallum's primary purpose was communication these causeways would have provided barriers, especially as there is no evidence of the tracks being catered for in the gateways' construction (one still can be seen at Benwell, in Newcastle, near what was the fort of Condercum).

As for the ditch being the road surface, that is laughable in the extreme. During the lifetime of the Vallum the ditch was filled in, with the fill containing Hadrianic pottery at Birdoswald; and cleared of silt creating the "marginal mound" that can be found to the north and south of the ditch in places.
Sion McElveen
Quote:One favourite I like is that is served to define an area where animals belonging to the army could graze without casual interference from any locals.

I think the use of the land between the wall and the vallum for grazing is a useful by product of the vallum's construction but there has to be a military reason for it being there in the first place.

As I said before, a six foot ditch through bed rock seems an extreme way of just providing an obstacle to prevent cattle straying. And with the vallum mounds on either side, it was an obstacle no one was going to cross easily with or without ladders.
Oops, I should have said, I think the balance of evidence is that it created, with the Wall, a military controlled zone that stopped casual approaching, or crossing of the wall and helped control access to legitimate crossing points. (I do like the idea of it being a giant stockade though.)

You're absolutely right Vindex, it is far too big a project to merely be a cattle fence.
But, if the vallum is south of the wall, how did it contribute to the defense of the wall?
I think it was meant to be the Wall itself, but they found out just in time that they had selected the wrong place... :twisted:
Ah. Smile
Quote:But, if the vallum is south of the wall, how did it contribute to the defense of the wall?

IIRC from Breeze's excellent book, there were tribes who lived to the south of the wall who weren't always necessarily that friendly towards Rome. IIRC as well, the road ran between the wall and the vallum, which would have protected marching troops.
Quote:IIRC from Breeze's excellent book, there were tribes who lived to the south of the wall who weren't always necessarily that friendly towards Rome.
Hmmm, the argument quickly becomes circular.
Quote:IIRC as well, the road ran between the wall and the vallum, which would have protected marching troops.
Originally, no road at all! And then, as someone already noted, only along the vallum mound(s).
Silly question: what is "vallum"? Is it a title for this particular trench, or is it a name for any trench?
Quote:Silly question: what is "vallum"? Is it a title for this particular trench, or is it a name for any trench?
It's the rather confusing term given to this particular linear feature (hence my "quotes" in the thread title) that runs along behind Hadrian's Wall. (As you probably know, vallum really means "rampart", whereas the main component of this linear feature is the ditch!)
I always did find that a little confusing!
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