Today, Barcombe Hill rises up dramatically behind Vindolanda, as it has for millennia. The remains of Roman quarries near its peak are still visible from the fort. Roman watchtowers have also been found. But is there more still that might have survived the centuries? What about the name Barcombe itself?
The nearest Wall fort to Vindolanda is Housesteads, a few miles away to the northeast. A possible Roman road from Housesteads pointing toward Vindolanda was first identified in the 18th C. More recently, aerial photos appear to show structures lining the supposed road. A road link would make sense, and the shortest route from Vindolanda to Housesteads passes up and over Barcombe Hill.
What does this have to do with names? Housesteads' name in Roman times was Vercovicium. Is Barcombe Hill a fossilized memory of a "Hill to Vercovicium," passed down 1600 years?
Possibly; another etymology is suggested by 'combe':
...coomb, a valley in the flank of a mountain, in principle above the highest springs...
[from Celtic comb, in present day Welsh cwm, dale or valley]
So perhaps Barcombe Hill means 'the hill blocking or 'at' the head of the valley?