Albemarle Barracks
Exercise Iron Frontier
To uncover the ditch of Hadrian's Wall and a series of obstacle pits north of the Wall

Operation Nightingale was founded in 2012 to utilise the technical and social aspects of field archaeology in the recovery of soldiers injured on operations, including Afghanistan and at home.

Soldiers from regiments across the country are working alongside archaeologists from Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums and local volunteers from the WallQuest community archaeology project to excavate and record the north side of Hadrian's Wall at Albermarle Barracks.

WallQuest has carried out two season of work with the army at Albemarle Barracks, in 2013 and 2014. The excavation was hampered by bad weather in 2013 and groundwater flooding in 2014, but managed to record the first partial cross-section through the Wall-ditch ever to be recorded in this area.  Recording the exact position of the Wall-ditch allows us to calculate the location of Hadrian’s Wall itself, which is not visible here as it is buried under the B6318 ‘Military Road’. The dig established that the Wall runs beneath the centre and the south carriageway of the road. That means that the area in front of the Wall where it was thought defensive obstacles (as seen on Tyneside) might be present was inaccessible beneath the road, so we remain uncertain about whether they are present here, 15 miles west of Wallsend, or not. However, the dig found traces of a mound of stone and clay on the south lip of the ditch, which on Tyneside is associated with the obstacles – for now we will have to be content with this intriguing clue that the system of obstacles might have extended further west along the Wall.


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