Open daily from March to October. Times may vary. (Visitors with English Heritage membership qualify for an entrance fee discount). The fort at Birdoswald, with surely the most breathtaking position above the river gorge, is well excavated and, most importantly, shows how life continued on the site after the Romans left (between 400 AD and 500 AD) through the Dark Ages and up to the present day. The first Birdoswald fort was probably of turf (and timber) before being rebuilt in the stone that we now see. The fort is high above the River Irthing. Birdoswald Roman Fort is the perfect place to stop for a family day out or if you're walking or cycling along Hadrian's Wall in Cumbria. The visitor centre gives an insight into the way of life from Roman times onwards and has interesting interactive displays and artefacts as well as a model representation of the Wall at its full height. Enjoy delicious locally made cakes and treats in the tearoom while outside wildlife is in abundance as this site is a real nature haven. Birdoswald also offers farmhouse style accommodation available for those wishing to stay within this historic site.
You can explore an excellent stretch of the Wall from the fort east to the escarpment above the extensive foundations of the Willowford Roman bridge, now high and dry in a field as the river has cut a new path. It is reached by a steep path and crosses the river by an elegant new footbridge (lowered into place by an RAF helicopter!).
Hadrian's Wall from Birdoswald through Gilsland
The excavated remains of Hadrian's Wall continue east past the farm up to the village of Gilsland. (Car park available). A lot of fun can be had looking at how the legionaries coped with the terrain on which they had to build their Wall – often crazy slopes, or even cliffs. Look out, too, for the centurions’ marks – and the places where two sections of wall met – or didn’t quite!
West of the fort, at Comb Crag, among the wooded cliffs above the Irthing, is an old Roman quarry, where it is just possible to find the graffiti left by two Roman masons, signing off at the end of their stint.
The Poltross Burn Milecastle at the east end of Gilsland village offered more challenging terrain for builders and soldiers alike. The line of the Wall or its ditch can be traced almost all the way through both Gilsland and Greenhead.