Poltross Burn

Has been described as a Questionable Bastle

There are no visible remains

NamePoltross Burn
Alternative NamesThe King's Stables
Historic CountryCumberland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishUpper Denton

Poltross Burn Milecastle (also known as Milecastle 48) on Hadrian's Wall. It is situated on the crest of the west bank of a steep gorge through, which the Poltross Burn, tributary of the River Irving, flows. The milecastle survives as consolidated masonry remains and measures internally 21.5 metres north-south by 18.7 metres across. The walls were built to the broad gauge, initially envisaged for the whole of Hadrian's Wall before a change of plan and narrowing of the width, and the wing walls extend 4 metres either side of the milecastle. The milecastle was excavated in 1886 by R. S. Ferguson and between 1909 and 1911 by F. G. Simpson and J. P. Gibson. These excavations uncovered a range of features including the gateways of the milecastle. The lower courses of a flight of steps were found in the north east corner, suggesting that the rampart walk stood 3.7 metres above ground with the battlements adding further height. An oven was located in the north west angle. Flanking the central space of the milecastle stood long barrack blocks, which are believed to have had more than one phase of construction. Further excavations were undertaken at the milecastle by D. Charlesworth between 1965 and 1966. (PastScape)

There is no evidence that the Wall was reused {in the C16}, but perhaps the Milecastles were. Although there is no direct evidence the Milecastles would have made convenient barmkins.

No medieval finds reported. (Perriam and Robinson 1998)

Gatehouse Comments

Listed as a possible stonehouse site by Perriam and Robinson. No mention of possible bastle in PastScape record. Scheduled but possible stonehouse not mentioned in scheduling report. Perriam and Robinson term 'stonehouse' is used for small but thick-walled houses but not of a strict pele-house form, usually because the ground floor was residential rather than a byre house. A well excavated site (The Gibson and Simpson 1911 excavation report is notable good) but the excavations were done in the early C20 by people interested in the Roman remains and it may well be they totally ignored anything not Roman. The name 'King's Stables' possibly comes from the superficial resemblance of the Roman barracks to a stable. This argues against early modern buildings overlying (and making invisible) these remains.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY634661
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  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29) p. 133
  • Curwen, J.F., 1913, Castles and Fortified Towers of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 13) p. 422 (general suggestion of reuse of Roman milecastle sites in C16)


  • Charlesworth, D., 1967, 'Notes' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 67 p. 234-5 (Roman) online copy
  • Gibson, J.P. and Simpson, F.G., 1911, 'The Milecastle on the Wall of Hadrian at the Poltross Burn' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 11 p. 390-461 online copy