Hardknott Roman fort, bath-house, parade ground and tribunal, 4 Roman roads, Roman quarries and 3 cairns
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Copeland (District Authority)
- National Park:
- LAKE DISTRICT
- National Grid Reference:
- NY 21992 01549
Reasons for Designation
Around 150 Roman forts are known to have existed in England. Construction of these forts began soon after the invasion of AD 43 and continued into the fourth century. The distribution of these forts reflects areas where a military presence was necessary, and the north of England, acting as a buffer zone between barbarian tribes of northern Britain and the heavily Romanised southern half of the country, contained a large number of these forts. These sites provide considerable insight into the complexities of the frequently changing Roman frontier military strategy and add important detail to the historical account of the Roman subjugation of Britain. Mediobogdum is located on the Ambleside - Ravenglass Roman road and must have been closely involved in the control and policing of the native population of this mountainous area and the wider northern frontier region. The relatively short life of the fort (c.AD117-195) means it is a rare example nationally of an unmodified 2nd century Roman fort. The monument has remained unencumbered by modern development and is widely recognised as possessing one of the best preserved forts and bath-houses in the country. The parade ground and tribunal are the finest examples in England. The remote location of this monument has aided its survival and the site therefore retains considerable information about its origin and form and possesses a wide range of contemporary features including roads and quarries.
The monument includes Hardknott Roman fort, identified as the site of
Mediobogdum named in classical sources, its associated bath-house, parade
ground and tribunal or viewing platform, lengths of four Roman roads, areas of
Roman quarrying and three cairns. The site is located on a south-westerly
projecting spur of Hardknott Fell on gradually sloping fell side between 230m
- 290m above sea level. The stone-built fort covers 1.2 hectares and is
flanked by a rock-cut ditch 8m wide by 2m deep around the northern
corner, with a second ditch of similar dimensions running parallel between the
northern corner and north-east gateway. The fort walls stand up to 2m high
including a slate coursing placed to indicate recently rebuilt upper portions.
There are four gateways in the fort and a similar number of angle towers.
Internally the fort displays the lower courses of the granary, headquarters
building and commanding officer's house. Barracks exist in the praetentura or
front part of the fort, but their foundations have been covered over. Some
60m south-east of the fort is the bath-house. It is a three-roomed
rectangular building 18m long by 6m wide with walls up to 1m high. Externally
there is a furnace and reservoir to the west and a circular hot room to the
south. 200m north-east of the fort is an artificially levelled area of 1.2
hectares that was the parade ground. At the middle of its north-west side is
a large ramp of stones up to 6m high leading up to a review platform or
tribunal. Roman roads issue from the north-east, south-east and south-west
gateways; the former connects with the parade ground, that from the main
south-east gateway connects with the main Ambleside - Ravenglass road, as does
the road issuing from the south-west gateway. There is considerable evidence
in the form of extensive quarried faces, for the manner in which stone used to
construct the fort was extracted from areas immediately to the south-west,
west and north-east of the fort. North of the fort's ditches is a raised
level platform constructed of loose stone and measuring some 54m by 14m
in which are a number of shallow holes up to 2m diameter and 0.8m deep. This
platform is interpreted as an area where angular stone extracted from adjacent
quarries was roughly dressed before being used in the fort construction.
Between the fort and the parade ground is a shallow boggy area from which a
stone drain channels water into the fort. South-west of the fort are two
kerbed stone cairns linked by a short line of boulders, while to the east of
the bath house is a large stone cairn measuring some 37m by 17m and up to 1.7m
Epigraphic evidence and limited excavations indicate the fort was garrisoned
by the Fourth Cohort of Dalmatians, an infantry unit 500 strong. The fort was
constructed during the reign of Hadrian (AD 117-38). It was subsequently
evacuated or left with a greatly reduced manpower under the next emperor,
Antoninus Pius (AD 138-61) but re-occupied at some time during the mid-2nd
century. The fort was finally abandoned by the end of the 2nd century.
The site is in the Guardianship of the Secretary of State.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Garlick, T, Hardknott Castle Roman Fort, (1985)
Hutchinson, , History of Cumberland, (1794)
Parthay, , Pinder, , Itinerarium Antonini Augusti, (1848)
Richmond, I A, The Roman Road From Ambleside To Ravenglass, (1950)
'Trans, Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. Old Ser. New Ser.' in Original 1889-1894 Excavations, , Vol. 12, 13,1, ()
Charlesworth, D, 'JRS' in Hardknott Barracks, , Vol. LV, (1965)
Charlesworth, D, 'Ant Journal' in Roman Leather From Hardknott, , Vol. XLVIII, (1968)
Charlesworth, D, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in The Granaries at Hardknott Castle, , Vol. 63, (1963)
Wright, R P, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in A Hadrianic Building Inscription from Hardknott, , Vol. 65, (1965)
Pagination 5-6, Carlton, R.J., MPP Single Monument Class Description - Quarries (Romano-Brit), (1989)
Title: Ordnance Survey 6": 1 mile Source Date: Author: Publisher: Surveyor:
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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing