Keys to the Past



A small tower built into part of a fortification's curtain wall. These may be accessed from the ground, through the curtain wall itself if wide enough to admit passage, the ground level or the parapet along the top. These may act as accommodation for small garrisons separated from their main bases elsewhere, or can be used as a place for firing weaponry. Roman examples on Hadrian's Wall are thought to have had two floors of timber - as there are stone steps to act as a ladder base. On the turf-wall sector of Hadrian's Wall these were of timber. These also had hearths and outwards swinging doors. It is thought these acted as a base for eight to ten men, who have garrisoned them on a rotating duty roster. The turrets were (usually) evenly spaced along Hadrian's Wall. These have been numbered, as milecastles, from east to west - for example Turret 26b Brunton is the second turret of after milecastle 26, Blackcarts 29a the first from number 29. Medieval examples might also have their own battlements and loopholes. Latterly, turrets have been used as decorative elements to country houses and as eye catchers on estates.

Post-Medieval military turrets are also noted in the region - though being points were armaments were fired from. These allowed the rotating of guns so as to fire in a number of directions. At the Hartley (Roberts) battery, (Seaton Sluice, Northumberland), the gun turret off a ship being scrapped was used, at the end of World War I to the 1920s - so as to cover the Blyth and Tyne river mouths. (A corresponding turret was built on the other side of the Tyne - the Kitchener Battery, Marsden, to cover the Tyne and Wear approaches). In World War II Hamilton-Pickett turrets were erected on airfields - these were sunk in to the ground, and could be raised to provide machine-gun fire in the event of attack. These were prone to flooding and not widely used.

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