Black Carts Turret
Building Simonburn Northumberland

Black Carts Turret

Building In Simonburn, Northumberland

Turret 29A on Hadrian's Wall.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hadrian's Wall runs for 73 miles from Wallsend in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in the west, and is made up of not just the wall itself, but a series of milecastles, forts, earthworks and turrets.

Milecastles, spaced roughly a Roman mile apart (approximately 1.5 kilometers), functioned as strongpoints with barracks and observation facilities. Midway between each milecastle you would find the turrets which were simpler in construction and served as intermediate viewpoints along the wall.

Black Carts Turret, also known as Turret 29A, is more than just a singular structure. It represents a critical component of a meticulously designed defensive system. Black Carts Turret is a compact structure, measuring a mere 3.45 meters by 3.45 meters (approximately 11 feet by 11 feet). Constructed from locally quarried sandstone, its walls, now only eleven courses high, showcase the robust Roman construction techniques.

One of the slightly unusual things about Black Carts Turret is the presence of flanking wing walls which suggests that the turret might have been built before the main Wall reached this point, initially functioning as a standalone defensive post, it is of a type thought to have been built by the Legio XX Valeria Victrix. Incidentally the term "carts" within the name is derived from the old English word “ceart”, which means rocky and rough.

While the physical structure provides valuable clues, a pivot hole and two grooves in the stone indicate where the door was hung, truly understanding life within the turret requires a deeper historical analysis. The cramped space likely housed a small contingent of soldiers, perhaps four to six. Their days would have revolved around patrolling the Wall, maintaining a vigilant watch for potential raiders or enemy movements, and meticulously caring for their equipment. Signal fires, relayed from turret to turret, would have formed a crucial communication network along the Wall's length.

Black Carts Turret's location offered a distinct strategic advantage. It lay roughly two miles west of Chollerford, where the well-preserved Chesters Roman Fort housed a significant cavalry detachment. This proximity ensured rapid response and support in case of an attack.

The turret was excavated in 1873, 1912 and finally in 1971, prior to being consolidated by the Department of the Environment. During these excavations, fragments of millstones were found, along with coins of Vespasian, Trajan, Hadrian and Constantine in quantities higher than are usually recovered.

The nearest formal parking area is a 40 minute walk away at Brocolitia Car Park, but for a short visit we parked on the small side road off the B6318 right next to Black Carts Turret.

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How To Find Black Carts Turret

Where Is Black Carts Turret?

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55.035966, -2.182539

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Where To Park For Black Carts Turret?

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55.035589, 55.035589

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We parked on the farm track adjacent to the section of Hadrian's Wall as we were only leaping out to quickly visit the site, but you may be better parking at Brocolitia Car Park and walking for 35 minutes along the Hadrian's Wall Path.

Contributed by Andrew Gardner

I love being outdoors, in nature, and experiencing the relaxation it brings. Wandering through the northern countryside seeing unexpected buildings, historic places and occasionally surprised wildlife is one of life's great pleasures.

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Andrew Gardner

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Black Carts Turret was listed in Building // Northumberland // Simonburn