Sources for Heddon-on-the-Wall

The only account of excavation on this site is P Brewis, ‘Notes on the Roman Wall at Denton Bank, Great Hill and Heddon-on-the-Wall – Northumberland’, Archaeologia Aeliana, 4th series, 4 (1927), 109–21.

Drawing by CJ Spence, 1884, of the corn-drying kiln built into the Wall at Heddon
Etching by CJ Spence, 1884, showing the corn-drying kiln at the western end of Hadrian’s Wall at Heddon. (From JC Bruce, Handbook to the Roman Wall, 2nd edn, 1895, facing p 51)

Material Sources/Collections

As far as is known, no unpublished records of Brewis’s excavations survive. There is no mention in his account of pottery, small finds or coins. This is not surprising: it is not unknown for quite extensive excavations on the line of the Wall to produce no Roman finds apart from building materials.

Visual Sources

A lithograph (reproduced on the History of Heddon-on-the-Wall page) of a watercolour of 1848 by HB Richardson, showing the Wall at Heddon before it was excavated and cleared, was reproduced in the first edition of JC Bruce’s The Roman Wall (see below) and his subsequent publications on the Wall until 1884. It was then replaced in the second edition of his Handbook to the Roman Wall (see below) by an etching by CJ Spence (reproduced above).

The original watercolour by HB Richardson is in the Laing Art Gallery, Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums.

Drawings by James Irwin Coates (dated 1879) are reproduced in T Wilmott (ed), Hadrian’s Wall: Archaeological Research by English Heritage 1976–2000 (Swindon, 2009), 13–14.

Historic England Archive

Items in the Historic England Archive at Swindon relating to Heddon-on-the-Wall include:

  • nine aerial photographs of Hadrian’s Wall at Heddon-on-the-Wall taken in 1930, part of an album of aerial photographs taken between milecastles 6 and 18 [AL1232/023/01–AL1232/031/01]
  • property file containing 12 sheets of drawings of Hadrian’s Wall at Heddon-on-the-Wall, dating from 1934 to 1989 [PF/HED].

More details of these and many other items can be found in the online catalogue. Some material is not yet listed in the online catalogue, including a large collection of aerial photography; for a full search, please contact the search team.

Copies of images and documents can be ordered through the website or by contacting the archive. For details of current charges for these services see the archive price list.

Antiquarian Accounts

Bruce, JC, The Roman Wall, 1st edn (London and Newcastle upon Tyne, 1851), 149 and facing plate [‘north face [of the Wall] is destroyed, but about five courses of the southern face are perfect’] [accessed 21 Feb 2013]

Bruce, JC, Handbook to the Roman Wall, 2nd edn (Newcastle upon Tyne, 1895), 55–7 and plate facing 51

Horsley, J, Britannia Romana: or the Roman Antiquities of Britain (London, 1732), 139 [the earliest account of the remains at Heddon-on-the-Wall (accessed 21 Feb 2013)]


The excellent website of the Heddon-on-the-Wall Local History Society includes a description of the historic setting of the site [accessed 21 Feb 2013].

Bidwell, P, ‘The systems of obstacles on Hadrian’s Wall: their extent, date and purpose’, Arbeia Journal, 8 (2005), 53–75

Bidwell, P and Watson, M, ‘Excavations on Hadrian’s Wall at Denton, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1986–89’, Archaeologia Aeliana, 5th series, 24 (1996), 1–56

Birley, E, ‘Hadrian’s Wall: some structural problems’, Archaeologia Aeliana, 4th series, 38 (1960), 39–60

Brewis, P, ‘Notes on the Roman Wall at Denton Bank, Great Hill and Heddon-on-the-Wall – Northumberland’, Archaeologia Aeliana, 4th series, 4 (1927), 109–21 [accessed 21 Feb 2013]

Frain, T, McKelvey, J and Bidwell, P, ‘Excavations and watching briefs along the berm of Hadrian’s Wall at Throckley, Newcastle upon Tyne, in 2001–2002’, Arbeia Journal, 8 (2005), 29–52

Hill, PR, The Construction of Hadrian’s Wall, BAR British Series 375 (Oxford, 2005)


'step into englands story