Behind the Dividing of the Ways

Behind the Dividing of the Ways

The Twin Gun Barrels

Looking down, we are suddenly confronted by two tunnels, left and right – they have appeared suddenly below us, almost out of nowhere. One tunnel appears to be a little higher than the other. Very curious.

It may have been Michael Baigent who described these as ‘twin gun barrels’. It is certainly as good a description as any. Michael was the first to photograph this feature.

A sense of relief

In total, since we entered the tunnel and the only source of fresh air, we have travelled about 216 metres, (708 feet) inside the wall of a volcano.

Light tufa particles float in the air and this gets in the lungs. There is no light – the pictures shown don’t do justice to the inky blackness. There is not a single sound except for those created by yourself. Under sensory deprivation, something few experience in their whole lives, feelings of panic can easily take over. Comfort and safety is a long way away.

Here we can at least turn around and go back the way we came. We have just come through a hole, like a cork in a bottle which is just shoulder width and slightly less than that high. We have been crawling with our faces in an immense quantity of loose dirt earth and rubble.

Which tunnel we choose actually does not matter, because they both join up at exactly the same place, which is behind the rubble wall that was built at the Dividing of the Ways. We left these a long way back in the story of these tunnels.

The illuminated view shown here is lit by a single light. At the end of the left tunnel we can see the rubble wall – the right one shows solid rock. 

The Roman Wall

We shall go down the left tunnel to the place where the Romans bricked up the wall at the Dividing of the Ways. Space is very confined here. It is perhaps about half its original height here, there is an immense amount of rubble and soil. It’s very hard to tell after 2000 years or so whether the left wall has a coating of some kind – cement, but it looks very likely. Does it hide anything? We simply don’t know. At the right hand end of the wall there is some kind of ‘pocket’ – a recessed space that would possibly be large enough for someone to stand in if it wasn’t filled with soil. What was this feature? We simply don’t know.

The Right Hand end of the Wall

The Left Hand end of the Wall

This, and the picture to the right, both show a similar view into the end of North 120, through a hole battered into the left side of the wall which blocks off this area from the Dividing of the Ways.

The end of North 120

You probably already noticed the hole on the left side of the Roman wall. This is thought to be the end of North 120. This has not actually been proven, since either end is blocked a short distance in.

Had the later wall not been placed there, we would be looking directly into the end of N 120. It is possible to poke a head into North 120 and take a photograph, but it is not easy. It would probably be possible to crawl inside and inspect it a little more closely.

We can see that lamp niches are yet again set into the walls and we must presume for a purpose. It looks too as if a cement rendering has been added to the side walls: was this to hide something?

This is the first time that pictures of North 120 have ever been published anywhere – you saw it first here on

An Artist’s Impression…

If we assume that the tunnels are full human height under the débris – everywhere else is – then what we would see is this. If there was a solid doorway, which is doubtful because the floor slopes down with possible steps, then it would be where the red door is shown. 

This opening would afford access back into the Great Antrum to return again to daylight. But the Romans blocked it up and disguised it on the Antrum side of the wall.

Without the Wall

A view without the Roman wall would look like this. We are in the small chamber at the point where The Great Antrum becomes 290 – the tunnel which slopes down to the River Styx. 

The pink walls are those that are lined in smooth cocciopesto, the more yellow walls are those that remain rough-hewn, with axe marks.

At the risk of becoming tedious, what part of a steam channel for the Roman baths can this be? These are human sized tunnels with lamp niches. A utilitarian steam channel makes no sense.

Notice the slot in the roof of the end of North 120, which is the focus of our attention next.

Reconstruction inside North 120

Whether the end of North 120 was originally open behind the Dividing of the Ways or closed is impossible to say without investigation. This 3D modelling exercise was to reconcile how a slot now hidden behind tiles in 290 would appear in North 120.

Inside North 120 here it is completely filled with soil and not possible to see any evidence behind the Roman tiles. Clearly the tiles were hiding something and North 120 sits behind them.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Silver Echo

    most of the images on this page arent viewable so you might need to fix that. like four images are missing.

    1. Persephone Hades

      I am most grateful to you for bringing this to my attention. Thank you. Hopefully the links have been fixed.

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