Ravenglass Roman fort bath-house, also known as Walls Castle

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009352

Date first listed: 26-Jun-1924

Date of most recent amendment: 16-Nov-1992

Map

Ordnance survey map of Ravenglass Roman fort bath-house, also known as Walls Castle
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Copeland (District Authority)

Parish: Muncaster

National Park: LAKE DISTRICT

National Grid Reference: SD 08833 95929

Summary

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

Reasons for Designation

The habit of bathing was an essential feature of Roman everyday life and every community with pretensions to Roman civilisation possessed a bath-house which acted as the centre of social life. The Roman military bath-house consisted of a series of rooms raised to different degrees of heat. The simplest type of bath-house consists of a single unheated room serving as a dressing room (apodyterium) and cold room(frigidarium), with a plunge-bath of cold water, then a moderately heated room (tepidarium), then the hot room (caldarium) with a hot plunge-bath. A single furnace supplied all the required heat. This heat was carefully channelled around the bath-house, first passing under a metal boiler for heating the water, then under the raised hypercaust-floor of the caldarium, and then under that of the tepidarium. This type of compact bath-house is often located outside smaller forts. Most forts, however, had a larger, more elaborate bath-house including a Spartan room (laconicum) where sweating was promoted by dry heat usually heated from a separate furnace. Excavation of bath-houses frequently produces items of personal ornamentation such as rings, brooches, jewellery, hair grips and clothing fasteners, together with objects such as dice and gaming counters indicative of other social activities pursued in the baths complex. Ravenglass Roman fort bath-house is the best preserved Roman military bath- house building in the country. The structure still partly stands to the full height of its walls and displays a number of architectural features including doorways, windows, niches, arches and internal rendering. Limited excavation to the east of the extant remains has revealed foundations of a number of additional rooms, and further evidence of the internal arrangement of the baths complex will exist.

History

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

Details

The monument includes the extant and buried remains of Ravenglass Roman fort bath-house, also known as Walls Castle. The stone-built structure survives above ground as an irregular-shaped block up to 3.8m high consisting of two rooms and various projecting fragments of wall. The walls are of regularly coursed sandstone bonded with mortar and rendered internally with pink cement. The southern room measures 4.8m by 4.4m internally and contains on its southern side a culvert constructed of red tile mortared to form an arch of 0.15 - 0.20m diameter. The northern room measures 5.7m by 4.4m and contains the remains of two semi-cylindrical niches facing each other. The better preserved of these is built into the western wall, is cement rendered, and measures 1.1m high by 0.8m broad and 0.45m deep. Throughout the upstanding remains there are five arched doorways, four of the same rectangular type, the other having a smaller arch 2.74m above floor level. One of the doorways has a worn threshold and a broad groove to receive a timber doorframe. There are the remains of five windows with sills 1.2m above floor level, only one of which, in the northern room, has both sides remaining. It possesses inward splays or chamfered surfaces cut into the walls and has been blocked. Limited excavation in 1881 found foundations of a small room with solid floors east of the northern room. Adjacent was an almost square room with a hypocaust and beyond that again was another, larger room. The southern room was found to have had a solid floor. To the east of the southern room was a heated room apparently running the entire remaining length of the southern range. Ravenglass Roman fort bath-house is in the guardianship of the Secretary of State. All fences, signs and information boards are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath these features is included.

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

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 13570

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Denton, J, Accompt, (1610)
Birley, E, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in The Roman Fort at Ravenglass, , Vol. LVIII, (1952)
Collingwood, R G, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & ARch Soc. New Ser.' in Roman Ravenglass, , Vol. XXVIII, (1929)
Other
Title: Walls Castle Source Date: 1984 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Copy at Lancaster Univ Arch Unit

End of official listing