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Boothby Roman fort

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: Boothby Roman fort

List entry Number: 1014585

Location

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

County: Cumbria

District: Carlisle

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Brampton

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 17-Nov-1964

Date of most recent amendment: 01-Jul-1996

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 27703

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

Hadrian's Wall marks one of the frontiers of the Roman Empire. The international importance of the surviving remains has been recognised through designation as a World Heritage Site. The military importance of the Tyne-Solway route across the Pennines was recognised by the Romans during their early campaigns through northern England and into Scotland in the second half of the first century AD. At this time a military road, the Stanegate, was constructed along with a series of forts. Subsequently the Romans largely withdrew from Scotland and there is evidence that the Tyne-Solway route was being recognised as a frontier by the start of the second century AD. This position was consolidated in the early second century by the construction of a substantial frontier work, Hadrian's Wall, under the orders of the Emperor Hadrian. Hadrian's successor, Antoninus Pius, subsequently attempted to establish the boundary further north, between the Clyde and the Firth of Forth, but by c.AD 160 growing unrest amongst the native populations of northern Britain and pressures elsewhere in the Empire caused a retraction back to the Hadrianic line. Hadrian's Wall was then the frontier of the Roman Empire in Britain until c.AD 400 when the Roman armies withdrew from Britain. Stretching over 70 miles from coast to coast, Hadrian's Wall was a continuous barrier built of stone in the east and, initially, of turf in the west. The stone wall was originally designed to be ten Roman feet wide and sections of this width are termed broad wall. A change of plan shortly after construction began led to a reduction in the width of the Wall to eight Roman feet, such sections being termed narrow wall. Today, stretches of both wall types survive, including some sections of narrow wall built on broad wall foundations. For most of its length a substantial ditch on the northern side provided additional defence. Where the Wall crossed rivers, bridges were constructed to carry it across. Construction of the Wall was organised and executed by legionary soldiers. From the beginning the barrier was planned to comprise more than just a curtain wall. At regularly spaced intervals of about a mile along its length lay small walled fortlets known as milecastles. These were attached to the southern side of the Wall and most had a gateway through the Wall to the north. Hence they controlled crossing points through the Wall as well as affording space for a small stable garrison. Between the milecastles were two equally spaced towers known as turrets. Together the milecastles and turrets provided bases from which the curtain wall could be watched and patrolled. Both the turrets and milecastles are thought to have been higher than the Wall itself to provide suitable observation points. It is often assumed that a platform existed on the Wall so that troops could actually patrol along the wall top; it is however far from certain that this was the case. At the western end of the Wall a system of towers, small fortlets and palisade fences extended the frontier system another 30 miles or so down the Cumbrian coast and helped control shipping moving across the estuary of the Solway Firth. As originally planned, and apart from whatever space there was in the milecastles, provision for the accommodation of garrison troops manning the Wall was left with the line of forts which already lay along the Stanegate. At some point a fundamental change of plan took place and forts were constructed along the line of the Wall itself. There are now known to have been 16 forts either attached to the Wall or in close association with it. Some overlay earlier features such as turrets or milecastles. At this stage another linear element, the vallum, was also added to the defensive system to the south of the Wall. This was a broad flat-bottomed ditch flanked by a pair of linear banks. It shadows the course of the Wall for almost all its length, sometimes lying very close to it but sometimes up to a kilometre away from it. The vallum's main function was to act as a barrier to restrict access to the Wall from the south. It also had a function in linking the forts along the Wall with a method of lateral communication. When the forts were placed along the wall line no provision was made for a road to link them. This situation was clearly found impracticable and a metalled track was therefore provided in places along the vallum between the north mound and the ditch. Later, after the withdrawal back to the Hadrianic line from the Antonine Wall, various refurbishments were made throughout the frontier line. At this stage a new linear feature was added: the `Military Way'. This was a road linking all elements of the Wall defence, running from fort to fort within the area bounded by the Wall and the vallum. Throughout its long history the Wall was not always well maintained. It was often neglected and sometimes overrun, but it remained in use until the late fourth century when a weak and divided Roman Empire finally withdrew its armies from the Wall and Britain. It now survives in various states of preservation. In places, especially in the central section, the Stone Wall still remains several courses high and the attached forts, turrets and milecastles are also clearly indentifiable. Earthwork features such as the ditch, vallum and Military Way also survive well in places. Elsewhere the Stone Wall has been virtually robbed out and only its foundations survive beneath the present ground surface. Similarly, stretches of the earthwork remains, including sections of the Turf Wall, have been levelled or infilled and now only survive as buried features. Although some sections of the frontier system no longer survive visibly, sufficient evidence does exist for its position to be fairly accurately identified throughout most of its length. The Stanegate military road linked Corbridge and Carlisle, both of which were also situated on important north-south routeways. It also extended west of Carlisle towards the Cumbrian coast. The construction of a series of forts along the road line allowed many troops to be stationed in this crucial frontier zone and ensured that the area could be closely patrolled. A series of smaller watch towers were also built to help frontier control. The Stanegate frontier was consolidated during the late first and early second century AD and helped crystallise Roman tactics and military expectations in the area. The function of the Stanegate road and its forts was changed by the building of Hadrian's Wall. Initially at least, the Stanegate's support function was enhanced, but as the new frontier line became more fully established its strategic importance declined.

Boothby Roman fort was one of a number of forts constructed along the Stanegate Roman road. Despite the absence of obvious earthwork features and the loss of part of the northern half of the fort due to landslip, the site of Boothby Roman fort survives reasonably well and remains unencumbered by modern development. An aerial photograph has identified below ground features which have been confirmed by limited excavation undertaken by Simpson in 1933. The monument will retain further archaeological evidence of the layout of the fort and its subsequent occupation.

History

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

Details

The monument includes the site of Boothby Roman fort which is located at a strategic position on the edge of a scar overlooking the River Irthing to the north. The fort was part of the Stanegate system, the first Roman defence system running across the Tyne-Solway route. The existence of the fort has been proven by the combination of an aerial photograph, which highlights features such as the infilled defensive ditch on the fort's south and east sides, and limited archaeological excavation undertaken by Simpson in 1933 who found evidence of the fort's ditch and rampart. A trench dug across the defences revealed that the ditch measured 5.2m wide by 1.8m deep while behind the ditch remains of a beaten clay rampart were located. Roman pottery found during this excavation was dated to the late first/early second century AD. The aerial photograph shows the existence of a gateway on the mid-point of the fort's southern side. The only surface evidence of the fort's existence is a slight hollow which marks the position of the ditch as it curves around the south east corner of the fort. All fence posts and gateposts are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Simpson, F G, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Rept of the Cumberland Excavation Committee 1933: Boothby, Castle Hill, , Vol. XXXIV, (1934), 154-5
Other
AP Ref no. STJ T33. SMR No 285, Cambridge University Collection of APs, Boothby Roman fort,

National Grid Reference: NY 54455 62969

Map

Map
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This copy shows the entry on 25-Nov-2017 at 11:37:58.

End of official listing