Ravenglass Roman fort

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013013

Date first listed: 09-Oct-1981

Date of most recent amendment: 16-Nov-1992

Map

Ordnance survey map of Ravenglass Roman fort
© 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 08732 95801, SD 08826 95817

Summary

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

Reasons for Designation

Around 150 Roman forts are known to have existed in England. Construction of these forts began soon after the Roman 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 military bases. 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. Glannaventa is located on the west coast at the end of the Roman road crossing the Lake District from Ambleside and Hardknott. The site's importance is attested by inclusion in the Antonine Itinerary. It played a major role in the defence of the northern frontier, being closely involved in coastal defence, policing of the native population of the coastal plain and adjacent mountainous area, and policing of the wider northern frontier region. Limited excavation at Ravenglass confirms that archaeological deposits from the 2nd to 5th centuries survive well, and has added greatly to our understanding of the Cumbrian coastal defence system. The site therefore retains considerable information about its origin, form and function.

History

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

Details

The monument includes Ravenglass Roman fort, identified as the site of Glannaventa noted in classical sources. It is located in Walls Plantation, 700m south of Ravenglass, on a low flat eminence adjacent to the coast and bordered to north and south by shallow ravines. The east rampart survives up to 1.5m high and measures 128m long. The fort was defended on the east side by a double ditch, the inner of which is faintly visible 5m wide and up to 0.3m deep, the outer having been virtually filled and obscured by vegetation. The south side of the fort has a very clear and sharp rampart up to 1m high. On the fort's north side, beyond the rampart, there is a single ditch, the two eastern ditches having merged into one at the north-east corner. This ditch becomes deeper towards its western end and develops into a ravine 6m deep. The western edge of the fort has been subjected to coastal erosion that has destroyed the wall and intervallum along this side. A railway runs north- south through the fort in a cutting and the monument is therefore divided into two areas: one lies to the east of the railway track bed and contains the central and eastern parts of the fort together with the eastern ditches. The other lies to the west of the railway track bed and contains the remains of the western part of the fort. Casual finds and limited excavations within the fort indicate an early Hadrianic fortlet constructed c.AD 122. In size this fortlet is similar to milefortlets associated with the Cumbrian coastal defence system and is thought to indicate either an extension of this system down to Ravenglass, or a separate localised defensive arrangement constructed to guard the estuaries of the rivers Esk, Mite and Irt. A later Hadrianic fort was built on the same site but on a different alignment c.AD 130 to consolidate the coastal defences. This fort displays evidence of destruction by fire in c.AD 197, AD 296 and AD 367, dates that mirror known periods of widespread turmoil in northern England. It was rebuilt after the latter destruction but no date of final abandonment is known. The fort was garrisoned by the Cohort I Morinorum, a unit 500 strong, at one time during its history. Glannaventa was the terminus of the Tenth Iter of the Antonine Itinerary, an official route list compiled in the early 3rd century. A short distance to the north-east of the fort is the Roman bath-house known as Walls Castle and scheduled as a separate monument. Casual finds north and east of the fort suggest that an extensive civilian settlement existed around the fort. The railway fence is excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath it is included.

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.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 13569

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Parthay, , Pinder, , Itinerarium Antonini Augusti, (1848)
Potter, T W, Romans in North-West England, (1979)
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)
Fair, M, 'Trans Cumb And West Antiq And Arch Soc' in Trans Cumb And West Antiq And Arch Soc. New Ser. Volume XXV, , Vol. XXV, ()
Fair, M, 'JRS' in JRS, , Vol. XXXIV, ()
Fair, M, 'Trans Cumb And West Antiq And Arch Soc. New Ser. (No.XLVIII)' in Trans Cumb And West Antiq And Arch Soc. New Ser. Volume No.XLVIII, , Vol. XLVIII, (1949)

End of official listing