This browser is not fully supported by Historic England. Please update your browser to the latest version so that you get the best from our website.

Habitancum Roman fort and medieval settlement

List Entry Summary

This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Habitancum Roman fort and medieval settlement

List entry Number: 1008561

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County:

District: Northumberland

District Type: Unitary Authority

Parish: Corsenside

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 17-Dec-1929

Date of most recent amendment: 10-May-1994

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 25038

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Roman forts served as permanent bases for auxiliary units of the Roman Army. In outline they were straight sided rectangular enclosures with rounded corners, defined by a single rampart of turf, puddled clay or earth with one or more outer ditches. Some forts had separately defended, subsidiary enclosures or annexes, allowing additional storage space or for the accommodation of troops and convoys in transit. Although built and used throughout the Roman period, the majority of forts were constructed between the mid first and mid second centuries AD. Some were only used for short periods of time but others were occupied for extended periods on a more or less permanent basis. In the earlier forts, timber was used for gateways, towers and breastworks. From the beginning of the second century AD there was a gradual replacement of timber with stone. Roman forts are rare nationally and are extremely rare south of the Severn Trent line. As one of a small group of Roman military monuments, which are important in representing army strategy and therefore government policy, forts are of particular significance to our understanding of the period. All Roman forts with surviving archaeological potential are considered to be nationally important.

Habitancum Roman fort is very well preserved and retains significant archaeological deposits. It is important as an example of a garrison fort in the frontier zone throughout much of the Roman occupation and for its role in various Scottish campaigns.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

Habitancum Roman fort, also known as Risingham, is situated on a low knoll, surrounded by low ground, above the River Rede. Today, the fort appears as a classically rectangular shape with rounded corners measuring 135m north west to south east by 117 north east to south west within a substantial rampart and wall and with the remains of a medieval settlement within its walls. The visible remains at Habitanicum are of a fort constructed in the early years of the third century AD by the Emperor Severus; an inscribed slab, uncovered by excavation, records the construction of the fort by a 1000 strong mounted cohort (one of the ten units of a Roman legion). The walls of the fort are substantial features up to 10m wide and standing to a height of 0.5 to 1.2m above the interior of the fort. The walls were constructed of large blocks of local sandstone infilled with rubble and earth. Most of the the large facing stones have been removed leaving only the rubble infill. The wall is backed internally by a substantial earthen rampart. The fort is surrounded on all sides by medieval rig and furrow; it is thought that these rigs mask up to four Roman ditches which would have surrounded the fort walls. There are three gateways giving access to the interior of the fort: the west and south gates are represented by breaks in the wall and rampart 8m wide and are carried across the ditches on raised causeways 0.4m high. A gap in the centre of the northern rampart is thought to represent the site of a northern gateway. Such gateways would normally be flanked by small watch towers and it is thought that raised and slightly spread areas on either side of the west and south gateways are the buried remains of gate towers. The defensive circuit is furnished with small towers at each angle and at intervals along each of the fort walls: they are visible as grassed over mounds of masonry. A change in the course of the River Rede has eroded part of the northern wall including the north-west angle tower. Within the interior of the fort there are many traces of buildings, most of which appear as small rectangular and irregular enclosures and linear ditches; recent interpretation of these remains has indicated that the majority are the result of post-Roman re-occupation of the fort, the exact nature of which is uncertain. A post-Roman settlement at Risingham is mentioned in a survey of 1604 when one Elizabeth Swan had a holding here. The last inhabitant, William Ridley, left his cottage in 1826. The remains of the internal Roman buildings are thought to lie beneath this later settlement; partial excavations in the 1840s revealed the layout of the bath house situated in the south east angle of the fort and a headquarters building situated at the centre of the fort. Excavations also uncovered early second century pottery and evidence of burning beneath the present western rampart; this has been taken to suggest that the present visible remains resulted from the reconstruction of an earlier 2nd century fort built under the Emperor Antoninus Pius and probably destroyed during the invasions of northern tribes recorded in the late second century AD.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Frere, S S, St Joseph, J K S, Roman Britain from the Air, (1983), 119,121
Frere, S S, St Joseph, J K S, Roman Britain from the Air, (1983), 119 121
Johnson, A, Roman Forts, (1983), 287
Richmond, I A, 'Northumberland County History xv' in The Romans in Redesdale, (1940), 106-115
Other
NY 88 NE 04,
RCAME, (1982)
Welfare, H,

National Grid Reference: NY 89056 86215

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2017. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1008561 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 26-Jun-2017 at 11:20:05.

End of official listing