Roman temporary camp and medieval monastic cross base, Mastiles Lane.


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1008777

Date first listed: 06-Feb-1964

Date of most recent amendment: 09-Feb-1995


Ordnance survey map of Roman temporary camp and medieval monastic cross base, Mastiles Lane.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Craven (District Authority)

Parish: Malham


National Grid Reference: SD 91486 65490


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

Reasons for Designation

Roman camps are rectangular or sub-rectangular enclosures which were constructed and used by Roman soldiers either when out on campaign or as practice camps; most campaign camps were only temporary overnight bases and few were used for longer periods. They were bounded by a single earthen rampart and outer ditch and in plan are always straight-sided with rounded corners. Normally they have between one and four entrances, although as many as eleven have been recorded. Such entrances were usually centrally placed in the sides of the camp and were often protected by additional defensive outworks. Roman camps are found throughout much of England, although most known examples lie in the midlands and north. Around 140 examples have been identified and, as one of the various types of defensive enclosure built by the Roman Army, particularly in hostile upland and frontier areas, they provide an important insight into Roman military strategy and organisation. All well-preserved examples are identified as being of national importance.

Stone crosses were erected widely throughout the medieval period, mostly between the 9th and 15th centuries and had a variety of functions, although the main purpose of raising such a cross was to reiterate and reinforce the Christian faith amongst those who passed it. Many crosses were erected to mark the boundaries of lands held by ecclesiastical institutions such as monasteries. Others fulfilled a role as waymarkers especially in difficult and otherwise unmarked terrain. Such crosses contribute significantly to our understanding of medieval religious custom and landholding. Decorated examples also contribute to our knowledge of sculptural and artistic traditions. All examples which survive as earthfast monuments, except those which are damaged and removed from their original locations, are considered worthy of protection. This camp survives reasonably well and retains significant detail on its original form. The cross-base situated within it is one of a group adjacent to Mastiles Lane which continue to mark a monastic routeway across this area of moorland.


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


The Roman camp is situated on Low Stony Bank, in a defensive position on a level tract of open moorland with higher ground towards the east. It is of typical rectilinear shape and measures 306m by 249m with the long axis running north to south. The slight but well defined earthen rampart is approximately 3.5m wide and 0.7m. The numerous breaks visible in the rampart are largely the result of later paths and sheep tracks cutting across it. A single v-shaped ditch about 3m wide surrounds the rampart, on the east side it reaches a maximum depth of 0.5m but is very shallow to the north and barely visible on the west and south sides. Three entrances on the north, east and south sides are discernible, these include a form of gateway defences known as internal claviculae, an inward extension of the rampart and ditch which blocks the direct line of access into the camp. On the western side the rampart has been considerably mutilated by modern breaks and no entrance is discernible. The interior of the camp lying to the north of the field wall which centrally bisects the camp is much disturbed for a distance of 30m. An old boundary wall crosses the north part of the camp and numerous circular depressions, most being natural solution holes, lie in the interior, two water filled ones have destroyed the bank on the north east corner. The camp encloses an area of 8.2ha and is of legionary size. It is suggested that the camp may belong to the campaigns of either Cerialis or of Agricola at the end of the 1st century AD, which effected the conquest of this area of northern England. The base of a somewhat subsided medieval monastic wayside cross lies beside Mastiles Lane and approximately centrally within the Roman camp. It includes a roughly triangular gritstone measuring some 1.5m by 1.2m sited on a foundation of three limestone boulders. The square socket hole roughly centrally placed has dimensions of approximately 0.3m by 0.3m and with a maximum depth of 0.25m. The cross is one of a number along Mastiles Lane which was originally a medieval routeway. It is associated with the nearby abbey at Coverham and linked the abbey with some of its grange farms in the area.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number: 24472

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Frere, S S, St Joseph, J K S, Roman Britain from the Air, (1983), 22-23
Raistrick, A , Malham, (1947), 13
Myers, J O, (1953)

End of official listing