Burwen Castle Roman forts


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Burwen Castle Roman forts
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

North Yorkshire
Craven (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SD 92465 49455, SD 92524 49388

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.

Although the monuments have been bisected by the building of the railway, much survives undisturbed. The two forts which exist on a single site illustrate the development of construction and design of this rare monument type.


The monument includes two Roman forts, one within the other and together known as Burwen Castle. The earlier fort lies within the later one and dates from about AD 70-80. It includes a square clay rampart, enclosing an area of the higher ground. The larger fort, which dates from about AD 210, is roughly oblong and has a stone rampart. The forts are bisected by a disused railway line. The main portion of the monument is located within the field to the north. The ramparts of the earlier fort rise to a height of 0.22m above ground level. Stones project through the turf indicating a stone or rubble base probably with turf on top. The eastern rampart is indistinct and the southern rampart has been destroyed by the railway line. The interior is fairly level and there are no buildings surviving visibly, although remains of them will survive beneath the turf. The later fort survives best on the western side where the rampart is most distinct. It appears to have consisted of a stone wall surmounted by turf and an embankment behind. A dip in the rampart may indicate a western gateway. Beyond it is an outer fortification or external traverse in the form of a slight bank running parallel to it. There also appears to be an extension of the western rampart running down to Earby Beck. The north rampart of the later fort survives as a ledge running along the hillside. On the eastern side the ground falls away and what appears to be a stone step marks the outer rampart. Part of the southern rampart has survived in the field to the south of the disused railway track.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 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.

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Books and journals
'Yorkshire Archaeological Society' in The Roman Forts at Elslack, ()
'Yorkshire Archaeological Society' in The Roman Forts at Elslack, ()
May, T, 'Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in Burwens Castle Roman Forts, , Vol. 21, (1911), 113-167
May, T, 'The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal' in , , Vol. 21, (1911), 113-167


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

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