Dubmill Point milefortlet 17, 560m WNW of Hill House, part of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Dubmill Point milefortlet 17, 560m WNW of Hill House, part of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast
© 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.

Allerdale (District Authority)
Holme St. Cuthbert
National Grid Reference:
NY 07724 45632

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 in the second half of the first century AD when a military road, the Stanegate, was constructed along with a series of forts. There is evidence that the Tyne-Solway route was being recognised as a frontier by the start of the second century AD, but the line was consolidated in the early second century AD by the construction of a substantial frontier work, Hadrian's Wall, in c.120 AD. Subsequent attempts to establish the boundary further north, between Clyde and Forth, failed by c.160 AD. Hadrian's Wall then remained the frontier of the Roman Empire in Britain until c.400 AD when Roman armies withdrew from Britain. For most of its course, the 70 miles of Hadrian's Wall running from coast to coast comprised a continuous stone wall (which in places was first temporarily built of turf) with permanent structures sited at intervals of one Roman mile (milecastles) and at third of a mile intervals (turrets) between the milecastles. At a later date, the Wall was strengthened by 16 full-size garrison forts built either on, or close to, the Wall. To the north of the Wall, for most of its length, lay a substantial defensive ditch and to the south a complex of banks and ditches provided east-west communication and demarcated the frontier zone from the province. To the west of Bowness-on-Solway, where the Wall reached the sea, however, the frontier had a different character and served a slightly different purpose. At the western end of the Wall a system of milefortlets and towers, spaced similarly to the milecastles and turrets along the Wall, extended the frontier system for at least 27 miles down the Cumbrian coast and helped control movement across the estuary of the Solway Firth. In places these milefortlets and towers were supplemented by lengths of palisade fences. 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. The frontier works along the Cumbrian coast survive as earthworks or buried archaeological remains, the latter sometimes visible on aerial photographs. They survive in this form largely as a result of the more ephemeral materials of which they were built (timber and turf instead of the stone of Hadrian's Wall land frontier) rather than because of poor survival of archaeological remains. Components of the coastal frontier which have surviving archaeological remains, whether visible or not, will generally be considered of national importance.

A combination of aerial photographs, geophysical survey and limited excavation have shown that buried remains of Dubmill Point milefortlet 17 survive well. The monument will contribute to any further study of the Roman frontier defences along the Cumbrian coast.


The monument includes the buried remains of all but the western edge of Dubmill Point Roman milefortlet. Within the sequence of milefortlets along the Cumbrian coast this one has been identified as number 17. The milefortlet was originally of turf and timber construction and is located on the western of two low parallel ridges of raised beach. It was found by aerial photography during the drought of 1976 which showed the outline of the broad ditch of a milefortlet, the western side of which was truncated by the B5300 and coastal erosion, and faint traces of a possible second narrower ditch further to the east. All that is visible on the ground is a slight ploughed-down depression which defines the broad ditch visible on the aerial photographs on the east and south sides of the milefortlet. Limited excavation by Bellhouse in 1983 found part of the milefortlet's main east-west axis road and evidence for three separate phases of rampart construction. The position of the milefortlet's broad ditch on the eastern side was confirmed by the excavation and found to lie approximately 9m to the east of the remains of the rampart. Roman pottery and iron nails were also found during the excavation. In 1994 geophysical survey produced a clear picture of the buried remains of the milefortlet; high resistance readings marked the position of the turf rampart, remains of internal buildings and the east-west road. The broad ditch was identified by a series of low resistance readings and an entrance on the western side was located. Approximately 20m to the east of this broad ditch the survey found a second arc of low resistance thought to be indicative of another ditch, together with a narrow band of higher resistance thought to represent a bank running south from this latter ditch. Exact measurements of the milefortlet are impossible to obtain because of the loss of the western edge of the monument but the geophysical survey indicates that the fortlet including its broad ditch measures c.47m NNE-SSW. All post and wire fences are excluded from the scheduling but the ground beneath them is included.

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


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

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Books and journals
Geophysical Surveys of Bradford, , Roman Defences of the Cumbrian Coast, (1994)
Bellhouse, R L, 'Trans Cumb and West Antiq and Arch Soc. New Ser.' in Roman Sites On The Cumb coast: Milefortlet 17, Dubmill Point, , Vol. LXXXVI, (1986), 40-7
Jones, G D B, 'Britannia' in The Solway Frontier: Interim Report, , Vol. 13, (1982), 283-97
MUCS 100,3. In Cumbria SMR 622, Jones,G.D.B., Dubmill Point Milefortlet 17, (1976)
MUCS 100,3. In Cumbria SMR 622, Jones,G.D.B., Dubmill Point Milefortlet 17, (1976)
MUCS 100,3. In Cumbria SMR 622, Jones,G.D.B., Dubmill Point Milefortlet 17, (1976)
RCHME, Cumberland Coast Events Record, (1995)


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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