Hadrian’s Wall from the Air

HW_air_oldOne of my treasured possessions is Barri Jones’s Hadrian’s Wall from the Air (Archaeological Surveys Ltd. 1976; 65p). The cover shows Cawfields Crag and hints at the damage sustained to the wall by the development of a quarry. There is a short introduction, followed by a series of black and white aerial shots with a short commentary. The first image is of the Roman fort at South Shields, and the last the fort at Burnswark with the Roman siege works.


The booklet has been updated and revised by David Wooliscroft (Tempus Publishing, 2001; The History Press, 2009). Jones had started to revise his work in the 1990s.

Some of the major changes at sites are clear between the two volumes. Take for example the outline of the fort at Segedunum (p. 5), with the rows of housing, with the clearly defined plan (col. pl. 15). Or compare milecastles 37 and 39 in the two volumes (pp. 16-17; col. pls. 24 and 25).

Maiden Castle



Sir Mortimer Wheeler wrote the Ministry of Works guide to Maiden Castle in 1951. This was replaced by a ‘blue’ DOE guide in 1972, with the 4th impression published in 1980 (for 60 p). [There is an unexpected typographical error on the imprint page, as the first date of publication is given as '1792'!]

Wheeler, who excavated the site, structured the guide with the following themes:

  • Neolithic Village
  • Bank-barrow and its burial
  • Bronze Age hiatus
  • First Maiden Caste of the Iron Age
  • Later Maiden Castle
  • Eve of the Roman Invasion
  • Battle at the East Gate
  • Romano-British Temple

There is a foldout plan at the back.

Guides to Anglesey



O.E. Craster published a Ministry of Works guide to the Ancient Monuments of Anglesey in 1953. My 1972 copy is a 9th impression (with amendments). Price 17 1/2 p. Although the cover is in English the title page has a parallel title, Cyfarwyddyd I Henebion Mon. There is also a three page summary in Welsh at the end (pp. 42-44). The guide has is “Prepared by the Department of the Environment on behalf of the Welsh Office”.

The guide is organised by period:

  • Neolithic Age
  • Bronze Age
  • The Early Iron Age and Roman Occupation
  • The Early Christian Period
  • The Middle Ages and Later Period

In all, 23 sites are listed. Many have sites plans.



The 10th impression (1977; cost, 60 p) is very similar although the summary in Welsh is appropriately entitled Crynodeb (pp. 44-46). There is also a short list of further reading including three DOE pamphlets for Beaumaris Castle, Barclodiad y Gawres, and Bryn Celli Ddu. Notice the sublte change of title to Ancient Monuments in anglesey.A



The ‘blue guide’ was replaced by a yellow CADW guide (small format) in 1989 (revised edition 1994; cost £2.25) by Lesley Macinnes. This has an introductory section on the historical and archaeological background, and then groups the monuments on three ‘tours': Eastern Anglesey, Western Anglesey, and Holyhead. There is further reading, as well as a fold out map of Anglesey. The sub-title of the volume is A Guide to Ancient and Historic Sites on the Isle of Anglesey.

The replacement CADW guide is by M.J. Yates and David Longley (3rd ed. 2001). It has the sub-title A Guide to Ancient Monuments on the Isle of Anglesey.


MPBW Guide to Hadrian’s Wall

HW_card_MoWOne of the guides to Hadrian’s Wall is “A short Ministry of Public Buildings and Works guide to the monuments in the care of the State situated in Northumberland and Cumberland”. The price is 1 s 6 d. There is no date but the code ‘5/70′ probably indicates May 1970, and therefore just before decimilisation in 1971.

There are six ‘panels’ on each side. The front (with the cover) includes a map of the wall over three panels; my copy has annotations with the milecastle and turret numbers. There are two panels on the history of Hadrian’s Wall with a reconstruction of Walltown Crags by Alan Sorrell. On the reverse are details of the three main sites: ‘Corbridge Roman Station’, ‘Housesteads Fort, and ‘Chesters Roman Fort’. (For guides to Corbridge.)

A similar guide was published by the DOE for the Antonine Wall.

Old Sarum and the Office of Works Guide


The Official Guide to Old Sarum was issued by the Office of Works (Department of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings) in 1922 with 18 pages. The 1927 version has been digitised. (Price 6 d). The guide adopted the format of an introductory history, followed by a description of the key elements including the castle and the foundations of the first cathedral. The guide include foldout plans. Notice the advertisement for photographic film on the back cover.

Richborough Guides



The Department of the Environment (DOE) enhanced the former ‘paper’ guides issued by the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works (e.g. Lullingstone Roman Villa; Tretower)  by adding a ‘blue’ masthead. These were published alongside the fuller blue guidebooks (e.g. Stonehenge and Avebury; Bury St Edmunds Abbey). An example of this is provided by the 1978 (2nd ed.; reset 1983) guide to Richborough Castle by J. P. Bushe-Fox (Edinburgh: HMSO; price, 20p). This consists of 8 pages with a short history of the site and then a longer description. There is a single plan showing the different phases of the site. It is worth noting that the site was known as “Richborough Castle” whereas English Heritage now calls it “Richborough Roman Fort and Amphitheatre“. This DOE guide had its origins in the 1933 Office of Works guide to Richborough Castle (reprinted 1936) at 33 pages.


The DOE guide was published alongside two separate guides for “The Saxon Shore” that placed Richborough alongside the other forts under state guardianship: Portchester, Pevensey, Dover Castle (with the Roman lighthouse), Reculver, and Burgh Castle.



The present English Heritage guide by Tony Wilmott covers both Richborough and the nearby fort of Reculver. This has 48 pages along with fold out plan of Richborough and site guides for Richborough and Reculver.

Henry VIII and the Development of Coastal Defence



The standard ‘Blue Guides’ (e.g. Corbridge) for the Ministry of Works and the Department of the Environment were supplemented by some landscape volumes such as the ones to the Saxon Shore forts (and see also here). At the same time there were some general guides to the regions or specific monuments. This illustrated guide by B.M. Morley, Inspector of Ancient Monuments, was on Henry VIII and the Development of Coastal Defence  (London: HMSO / Department of the Environment, Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings, 1976) [Cost, 60p]. There are six sections:

  1. Historical
  2. The Fortifications
  3. The 1539/40 Castles
  4. Gunpower
  5. The Development of Coastal Defence
  6. Open to the Public

A number of fortifications built by Henry VIII are now in the care of English Heritage and feature in the text:

The guide takes a broader view of coastal defence including the Late Roman Saxon Shore (at Portchester Castle) and Elizabethan defences at Carisbrooke Castle and Berwick-upon-Tweed.