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Prehistoric Canals – The Vallum

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Extract From Book……………………… Ancient Prehistoric Canals (Dykes) – The Vallum


Like most others, I believed I was aware of the story of Hadrian’s Wall and the reasons behind it being built and by whom, mainly as it was part of my certificate in Archaeology in the 1990s, which required me to submit an essay as part of my successful module.

Consequently, I had no reason to doubt the honesty of these ‘peer-reviewed’ publications to the authenticity of the information these eminent archaeologists and historians provided. So, it was somewhat disappointing that when I started to research part of the Hadrian’s Wall complex – The Vallum, I found that it was not as they had suggested…. In fact, it was totally wrong!

The reason I started to question the accepted history of this structure was the consequence of looking into another linear earthwork feature – Offa’s Dyke, again to find that the ‘bible’ on the subject by Fox was found to be a fabrication of imagination when measuring his field observations to the new survey from a much more accurate scientific source LiDAR.

Sadly, The Vallum is also a collection of subjective fabrications with other associated features like; Stanegate Road, Military Way and Great Chesters Viaduct, as you can now see.

Robert John Langdon (2022 – Prehistoric Canals – The Vallum)

Chapter 4 – The Vallum (Prehistoric Canals – The Vallum)

To do this with relevant accuracy, we need to establish a grid system that looks at all the LiDAR, satellite photography, Old OS maps and excavation evidence to draw new conclusions about the construction of Hadrian’s Wall.

Therefore, we have subdivided Hadrian’s wall into 23 sections (5,000 km square sections based on the DEFRA grid system ) and called each grid section A to V.

These grid sections include the  OS 1800 Map edition (for historical accurately, as new developments are not included), Google Earth Maps (showing Historic England Scheduled Areas and References) and our LiDAR (hi-resolution) maps, which are unique in their clarity and ease of landscape interpretation.

Our Findings and Conclusion (Prehistoric Canals – The Vallum)

Before we reflect on our findings section by section, It may be beneficial to look at the total statistics for some aspects of Hadrian’s Wall, as such details have not been found in our research on this subject.


Total length found by LiDAR: 73,916m (45.93 miles) – 65% of the entire Vallum length

Total length Missing (by LiDAR): 42,339m (26.31 miles) – 35% of the Vallum length

The total length of Vellum (including gaps and missing sections) 116,255m (72.24 miles)

Total number of Gaps in the Vallum – 49

Average Depth of the River Valleys (in gaps)  – 7.75m

In comparison, Hadrian’s Wall is reported as 80 Roman miles or 73 standard miles in length.


Within the 72.24 miles of the Vallum, we have identified – within 200m of the construction:

46 Springs (as specified by the 1800 OS maps series)

54 Quarries

14 Prehistoric Ancient sites

To judge if the frequency of these features are standard or an anomaly of the Vallum – we have measured two roughly parallel lines to the Vallum, one five miles to the north and the other to the south.

This mathematical exercise will give us a comparative average for these features in the environment within the locality:

Northern Test Line (within 200m)

12 Springs

25 Quarries

1 Ancient site

Southern Test Line (within 200m)

10 Springs

30 Quarries

3 Ancient Sites


46 v 10 Springs – Vallum has 460% more Springs, that the norm

54 v 30 Quarries – Vallum has 180% more Quarries, than the norm

14 v 2 Ancient Sites – Vallum has 700% more ancient sites, than the norm

Summary (Prehistoric Canals – The Vallum)

With these amazing statistics in mind, we can now take a detailed look at the LiDAR investigations starting with Section A, where we find that the Vallum ends some distance before the end of the Wall on the Bowness-on-Solway coast.

This terminus seems to be at a point of a Paleochannel/Dyke that turns and heads south overland, which has no connection to the Wall.  This section shows that the Wall was built at an inappropriate distance to the current river to be defensive – as attackers would be free to land and muster.

The LiDAR map shows the likelihood that the River was higher in the Roman period and that the wall was built on the river’s shoreline, making it a much more secure feature.  This raised water level would suggest that the Paleochannel was full of water and was used to link into the Vallum as a canal feature.

Section B, shows that the Vallum was in this area (sections A & B) as short-run (2.6 miles) and not continuous.  The terminal point to the east of this run again is in a river valley, which was again higher than today at the time of Roman occupation, allowing boats to enter and exit from the river Esk to supply or deliver Stone to the Wall as there is an absence of the suggested ‘Military Way’ that was supposed to be constructed for this purpose.

We will not see any signs of the Military Way (see case study) for the next 24.2km, indicating that the Vallum was the primary source of supply and communication.

Section C, demonstrates that the Vallum disappears for 2.6 miles on the LiDAR map.  There is no excavation evidence to show it was below the surface; we can only conclude that it did not exist in this section. This questions the old theory about the Vallum being constructed as a defence structure either before the wall was built or after to defend the south flank – as attackers could just walk around it.

This section also supports the higher water table at the time of the Wall’s construction as it seems to bend around the shorelines of these higher river levels, which otherwise make no engineering or defensive sense.

Sections D and E illustrate the raised water levels of prehistory and, consequently, the path of the Wall and Vallum, which in places (such as in the River Eden) disappears, indicating that the Vallum was probably constructed on an existing ‘Dyke’ and enlarged for their purposes?

Sections F, G and H show the first signs of the Roman Road called Stanegate (see case study).  The Vallum again is broken in its course by the river valleys in this area, eradicating any evidence of its existence. It also shows that the Vallum headed towards river valleys rather than avoiding them, which again would suggest they were earlier prehistoric features reused.

Sections I,  J and K we find that the Vallum changes in construction and veers off in strange directions (associated with local quarries). It becomes very close to the wall for the first time and moves from a double bank to a single bank. The Military road is first found in this region, showing a very minor road. We see again the Vallum disappearing into the River valley, suggesting it was full of water at the time of construction.

Section K is connected to our case Study Great Chesters Aqueduct.

Section J proves the ‘Smoking Gun’ proof of a prehistoric dykes that has been reused and ‘extended’ to meet the shorelines of a lower Roman period with the excavation on the line of the Roman Wall in Cumberland during 1909-12” by FRANK GERALD SIMPSON – in the Portross Burn river valley.

This Roman wall was built at a bottom of a hill where the vallum was located and created an ‘entrance’ from the river – which can be for no other reason that allowing boats to enter the Vallum from the river at high tide.

Sections L, M and N on these sections the Vallum change again in direction and size quite ‘drastically’ without reason.  Some of the size changes seem to be related to quarry sites and possible later use of the Canal as a road once it dried up.  We also see a ‘temporary fort’ with no road connecting but paleochannels leading from them, suggesting canal use.

Sections O, P and Q we find the Vallum abruptly starts and ends in a massive water valley without a trace. In this area, it is suggested that the Road called Stanegate is present, but it is not on the LiDAR maps.

Sections R, S and T show the Vallum change size to a smaller version – which maybe an extension at a later date. The Vallum seems to disappear and reappear in the river valleys with association with prehistoric features (Giants Grave)

Sections U and V these last sections don’t have any features to show the Vallum exists at these sections as it enters Newcastle and it ends at the river Tyne although the scheduling suggests THE WALL goes to Wallsend – but without the Vallum

Conclusion (Prehistoric Canals – The Vallum)

Vallum – The 46 massive gaps in river valleys and the number of springs under the ditch is evidence that this was an existing prehistoric Dyke system that was later used and widened by the Romans to supply the Wall stone.

Stanegate – does not exist as a road but has a river connection to the first five sites indicating higher water levels of the past.

Military Way – Does not exist as an independent road(way) but is observable in areas not covered by the Vallum. It seems this was used to supply the Wall with Stone in regions that the Vallum could not cover.

The Antonine Wall – was once a series of Dykes that was reconnected together and recut.

Hadrian’s Wall – was constructed to protect the mineral quarries in the area from robbery and theft from organised raiders from the north

Great Chester’s Aqueduct.  Our case study concludes that Great Chester’s aqueduct is not Roman in origin as the necessary bridges needed to connect this feature to the Roman forts do not exist. Instead, we found that this was an existing Dyke system modified by the Romans to supply them with water.


Prehistoric Canals – The Vallum

Prehistoric Canals - The Vallum
Prehistoric Canals – The Vallum

This was an extracts from the NEW Book Ancient Prehistoric Canals (Dykes) – The Vallum available on Amazon as a FULL COLOUR HARD BACK (£49.95) or a ECONOMY (£9.95) SOFTBACK black and white VERSION – it is also available as a KINDLE (£2.99) book. For further information about our work on Prehistoric Britain visit our WEBSITE or VIDEO CHANNEL.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Independently published (9 Oct. 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 477 pages
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8357147745
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 15.24 x 2.74 x 22.86 cm
  • Illustrations 360+

For more information about British Prehistory and other articles/books, go to our BLOG WEBSITE for daily updates or our VIDEO CHANNEL for interactive media and documentaries. The TRILOGY of books that ‘changed history’ can be found with chapter extracts at DAWN OF THE LOST CIVILISATIONTHE STONEHENGE ENIGMA and THE POST-GLACIAL FLOODING HYPOTHESIS. Other associated books are also available such as 13 THINGS THAT DON’T MAKE SENSE IN HISTORY and other ‘short’ budget priced books can be found on our AUTHOR SITE or on our PRESS RELEASE PAGE. For active discussion on the findings of the TRILOGY and recent LiDAR investigations that is published on our WEBSITE you can join our FACEBOOK GROUP.

Prehistoric Canals – The Vallum