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Two Roman forts and three sections of Roman road at Caermote

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Two Roman forts and three sections of Roman road at Caermote

List entry Number: 1014285

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Allerdale

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Bewaldeth and Snittlegarth

National Park: LAKE DISTRICT

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 23-May-1962

Date of most recent amendment: 06-Sep-1995

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 23794

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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

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.

Roman roads were the first artificially made up routes in Britain and were introduced by the Roman army from c.AD 43. They facilitated both the conquest of the province and its administration. Additionally Roman roads acted as commercial routes and became foci for settlement and industry. On the basis of construction techniques two main types are distinguishable; the first has widely spaced boundary ditches and a broad elaborate agger comprising several layers of graded materials, the second usually has drainage ditches and a narrow simple agger of two or three layers. Other construction features include central stone ribs, kerbs and culverts. Roman roads provide important evidence of Roman civil engineering skills as well as the pattern of Roman conquest and settlement. A high proportion of examples are considered to be worthy of protection.

Despite being crossed by a modern road, the two Roman forts and lengths of three Roman roads at Caermote survive well. The fort played an important military role in the policing of the Lake District and its indigenous population, and controlling access into the northern Lakes. Limited antiquarian investigation suggests that another function of the garrison at Caermote was the production of lead. Further limited excavation of the forts and roads this century revealed prime conditions for the survival of organic materials such as wood and leather, and indicates that despite having two phases of occupation the monument is a rare example of turf and timber forts which were not subsequently rebuilt in stone.

History

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

Details

The monument includes two turf and timber constructed Roman forts at Caermote; specifically a large early fort and a smaller later fort built within the earlier fort, and three lengths of Roman road. The site commands extensive views southwards and is strategically positioned to control access into the northern Lakes. The monument is crossed by the modern Torpenhow to Bewaldeth road and this, together with the layout of the surviving earthworks and proven below ground archaeological deposits indicating the presence of an annexe on the north east side of the earlier fort, renders it divided into three areas.

The earlier larger fort is rectangular in plan with rounded corners and measures approximately 135m by 127m. Its defences consist of an earthen rampart and a double bank and ditch originally on all sides but now partially destroyed on the east by road building. The rampart measures up to 6m wide and 1m high and is best preserved on the south and south west sides. The ditches measure c.3m wide and are also best preserved on the south and west sides but particularly at the south west corner. The fort would originally have had an entrance on each side but only the north and south gateways remain visible. On the north eastern side of the fort limited excavation during the 1950's located the presence of the rampart and ditch of an associated annexe which, although not yet identified in its entirety, would have flanked much of the north and east sides of the fort. Three Roman roads issue from the fort; that from the south gate can be seen as an earthwork running for approximately 90m towards the modern road, that from the largely obliterated east gate can be seen as an earthwork running for approximately 90m before turning north eastwards and continuing as an earthwork for a further 50m, that from the north gate can be seen as a faint earthwork running for approximately 73m before branching into two, one to the north west, the other to the north east. The later smaller Roman fort was built into the north west corner of the earlier fort. It is rectangular in plan with rounded corners and measures approximately 73m by 65m. Its defences consist of an earthen rampart and the double ditch system of the earlier fort on the west side, which has been extended along parts of the north and south sides. The remainder of the fort is defended by a rampart and single ditch. The rampart measures up to 3m wide by 1m high and the ditches up to 3m wide.

Limited excavation at both forts in 1901 and again in 1959 found that the site had suffered from a degree of waterlogging both in Roman times and since, which has subsequently led to good preservation of organic materials such as wood and leather. Other finds included pottery, nails and glass. Additionally limited antiquarian investigation within the annexe immediately to the north of the early fort found remains of a two roomed stone building within which melted lead was found, suggesting that the Romans may have been involved in lead working and that they would presumably have exploited the nearby Caldbeck Fells for the ore.

Dating of the pottery from these excavations indicates that the early fort was constructed during the late first/early second century AD. During this initial period of occupation it would have been garrisoned by a unit of auxiliary troops about 500 strong employed in policing the area, and in particular controlling access into the northern Lakes. The garrison appears to have been reduced in size after a short period of time hence the construction of a smaller fort within the defences of the earlier. The present lack of evidence for a vicus or civilian settlement outside the fort suggests that the length of occupation was limited.

All modern field boundaries, gateposts, and field drains 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.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Higham, N, Jones, B, The Carvetti, (1985), 20
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Some Fieldwork At Caermote, (1958), 27-9
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Some Fieldwork At Caermote, (1958), 27-9
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in The Roman Road From Old Penrith To Keswick And Beyond, (1955), 22
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in The Roman Road From Old Penrith To Keswick And Beyond, (1955), 21-2
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in The Roman Forts Near Caermote, , Vol. LX, (1961), 20-3
Haverfield, F, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Report of the Cumberland Excavation Committee, (1904), 328-339
Haverfield, F, 'Trans Cumb & West Antiq & Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Report of the Cumberland Excavation Committee, (1904), 328-39
Robinson, J, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. Old Ser.' in , , Vol. III, (1882), 243-5
Shotter, D C A, 'Roman North-West England' in Roman North-West England, (1984), 21-2
Shotter, D C A, 'Roman North-West England' in Roman North-West England, (1984), 21-2
Other
AP No. 2667/9 In Cumbria SMR 882, Caermote Roman Forts,
AP No. 2667/9 In Cumbria SMR 882, Caermote Roman Forts,
AP No. 2667/9 In Cumbria SMR 882, Caermote Roman Forts,
AP No. BPB4. In Cumbria SMR No.882, Caermote Roman Forts,
AP No. BPB4. In Cumbria SMR No.882, Caermote Roman Forts,
AP No. BPB4. In Cumbria SMR No.882, Caermote Roman Forts,
SMR No. 6428, Cumbria SMR, Snittlegarth Farm, (1989)
SMR no. 882, Cumbria SMR, Roman Forts at Caermote, (1984)

National Grid Reference: NY 20221 36877, NY 20357 36977, NY 20374 36818

Map

Map
© Crown Copyright and database right 2017. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2017. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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End of official listing